Ah, baseball. Just a week ago, the claws were out and sports talk radio was taking call after call from furious fans. Now here are the Tigers, winners of five straight after a spectacular outing from Eduardo Rodriguez and a timely solo shot from Riley Greene helped them sweep the doubleheader. The offense is still stuck in first gear, but wins are wins.
Part two of Tuesday’s doubleheader was a very low-scoring affair. Eduardo Rodriguez absolutely carved up the Guardians for his part, taking advantage of the cold by pounding the strike zone with all of his pitches and forcing the Guardians to swing the bat in pitchers’ counts. Through the first five frames, which took just an hour to play, the Tigers’ southpaw racked up seven strikeouts, five on swinging third strikes. He worked fast and really had the Guardians unbalanced, collecting a surprising number of whiffs on the fastball as well as the cutter/changeup combination.
The Guardians got a leadoff single from Josh Bell in the second, but that went nowhere. In the third, Gabriel Arias led off with a single of his own, but was cut down by Jake Rogers to Jonathan Schoop as he tried to steal second. Otherwise, it was very quiet on the basepaths.
The same could be said for right-hander Peyton Battenfield. Tyler Nevin singled with one out in the second, but Spencer Torkelson lined out to right and Matt Vierling flew out to right to end the inning before a threat materialized.
Finally in the fourth, Javier Báez singled to right center field with one out. Kerry Carpenter struck out, but Nevin drew a two-out walk to move Báez into scoring position. But again the Tigers couldn’t get it done, as Torkelson grounded into a fielder’s choice at third.
The Guardians' fifth started with Josh Naylor lifting a fly ball just over the wall in right field, but Vierling was there with a perfectly timed jump to rob him.
E-Rod struck out Arias to open the sixth, his eighth strikeout on the day. He then popped up Cam Gallagher and got Will Brennan to ground out. The run prevention was going well. The run-scoring? Eh, not so much, until Riley Greene led off the bottom of the sixth with his second home run of the season. Greene took a 90 mph fastball on the outer edge and cranked it the opposite way, just inside the left field foul pole. 1-0 Tigers.
The Tigers went down in order from there, and we were onto the seventh. Rodriguez started the inning with only 70 pitches thrown. He was still locked in.
Myles Straw lined a single to right to lead off the inning, and with Jose Ramirez up, this felt like the moment the worm would turn. Instead, Rodriguez punched his ticket for the third time on the day with Ramirez unable to check his swing on a high fastball. Josh Bell popped out to Torkelson at first, and Naylor lifted a routine fly ball to Nevin, who was playing left field in this one.
Rodriguez’s line at this point was delightful. 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 10 SO.
Torkelson led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to center field against reliever Xzavion Curry, who has a cool name and had taken over from Battenfield to start the inning. Vierling lined out to right, but Jonathan Schoop lined a single to right field to keep things going. Unfortunately, Curry struck out Jake Rogers, and Nick Maton lined a hard-hit ball right to Will Brennan in left to end the threat.
Eduardo Rodriguez was at 83 pitches now and still dealing, so A.J. Hinch let him come out for the eighth. With Mason Englert and Alex Lange used in game one, Hinch didn’t have his top options but did have Trey Wingenter, Jason Foley, as well as Will Vest up as the extra man for the doubleheader, as potential closing options.
Oscar Gonzalez started the eighth with a solid single to center field. Andres Gimenez sacrificed Gonzalez to second with a bunt, making the first out of the inning. Rodriguez got ahead of Arias 0-2 with a pair of cutters, missed up with a pair of four-seamers, and eventually dusted him with a four-seamer right passed him that Arias could only tip into Rogers' glove.
Terry Francona needed a single badly, and inserted Steven Kwan to pinch hit for catcher Cam Gallagher. Rodriguez quickly got ahead of Kwan 0-2, but the outfielder battled back and eventually ripped a ground ball that Schoop made a fantastic diving stop on. Kwan runs really well, and Schoop had to fire quickly from the ground, one-hopping it to first where Torkelson scooped it up, turning the Guardians away again.
That was a heck of a performance from Eduardo Rodriguez. Make it 10 strikeouts to four singles, no walks, and no runs, over eight strong innings.
The Tigers needed add-on runs, but they did not get them. Curry struck out Greene and Carpenter in the bottom of the eighth, while Báez flew out in foul territory down the right field line.
Hinch decided to go with Jason Foley to close it out. Akil Baddoo took over from Nevin in left to start the inning.
Will Brennan grounded out to third, and Myles Straw to second, as Foley’s bowling ball of a sinker did its thing. That just left the final boss, Jose Ramirez. Foley worked into a 2-2 count and spotted a beauty of a changeup on the outer edge. Ramirez whiffed, and the Tigers were winners of five straight ballgames. That was also a well-earned first career save for Foley.
Don’t look now folks, but we’re streaking!
I’m not sure which is more impressive; Eduardo matching Max Scherzer and “Wild” Bill Donovan, or the fact that the Tigers struck out Jose Ramirez in all four plate appearances in this game. Both quite rare feats.
Eduardo Rodriguez is first Tiger to toss 8+ scoreless innings with no walks and 10+ K's since Max Scherzer vs. Rockies on June 17, 2012. Last Tiger before that was Bill Donovan on June 27, 1908.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) April 18, 2023