The Tigers dropped the finale in Baltimore to the Orioles by a final of 2-1 in extra innings on Sunday. Eduardo Rodriguez started for Detroit and threw seven shutout innings, but the offense’s inability to execute with men on base wrecked any chance the Tigers had at salvaging a game in the series. They left 13 runners on base while Baltimore was able to capitalize on the few opportunities they had after breaking up Rodriguez’s perfect game bid late in the seventh.
Detroit now finds itself on a four game losing streak with virtually every hitter in the midst of a slump. They are 7-13 as they head to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers.
The tenth inning was a microcosm of the season for the Tigers. With Riley Greene serving as the ghost runner, he moved over to third on a Matt Vierling groundout that would’ve been a run scoring single if not for a diving stop by Ramón Urías at second base. With lefty Keegan Akin on the mound, Baltimore opted to walk Eric Haase to setup the double play, but it didn’t matter as Zach McKinstry followed with a three-pitch strikeout, getting blown away by 94 in the zone. With two outs, the Orioles decided to walk Spencer Torkelson to load the bases, which they were rewarded for thanks to an easy pop-up by Nick Maton to end the threat. Javier Báez was presumably not available due to jamming his finger in Saturday’s contest.
In need of only one run, the Orioles were able to small-ball their way to victory. A textbook sacrifice bunt moved the ghost-runner over to third with one out, and then Mason Englert spiked a curveball into the dirt that allowed Urías to scamper home and give Baltimore the win.
Eduardo Rodriguez followed up his best outing as a member of the Tigers by carrying a perfect game into the seventh. Rodriguez was surgical with his command of the strikezone and had the Orioles off-balance all afternoon. With two outs in the seventh inning, Ryan Mountcastle battled with a one-two count against Rodriguez. On the eighth pitch of the at bat, Mountcastle served a changeup to left-center field, and it was unfortunately able to find grass before finding glove, ending the perfect game and no hitter. Rodriguez was able to navigate around it with ease, and exited with seven masterful innings of shutout baseball.
Ryan Mountcastle broke up an Eduardo Rodríguez perfect game in the 7th inning pic.twitter.com/vzYXj7WEH5— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 23, 2023
We also got the obligatory horrendous strike zone from what has been one of the worst crews in recent memory over the three game series. This AB by McKinstry in the sixth was just one of the more egregious examples. How can you teach strike zone discipline when the home plate ump doesn’t know what’s a ball or strike with any consistency?
After multiple blown opportunities with runners in scoring position, the Tigers were finally able to breakthrough in the eighth inning. Vierling notched his second hit of the day to start the inning, and then a pinch hit single for Haase put two on with no outs. Torkelson came through with a nice piece of situational hitting sending a fly ball to right field that allowed Vierling to tag up and break for home. Ryan McKenna made a strong throw home to Adley Rutschman, but Vierling was able to avoid the tag with a head first slide just out of reach of the glove.
The 1-0 lead would not last though, as AJ Hinch opted to go to lefty Chasen Shreve in relief of Rodriguez in the bottom half of the eighth. With two outs and the speedy Jorge Mateo on first base, the Orioles opted to pinch hit the right-handed Anthony Santander. Alex Lange was up and ready in the bullpen, but Hinch decided to stay with Shreve, a decision that will no doubt be put under a microscope given what followed. Santander doubled down the left field line, and a poor relay started by Akil Baddoo allowed Mateo to score from first and tie the game.
After a five game winning streak, the Tigers have now lost four straight. Young teams with low expectations tend to have these rollercoaster moments where the highs are a lot of fun and the lows seem bottomless. Not only are they not scoring, but they’re striking out a ton and drawing very few walks. With no one stepping up, Scott Harris might have to consider turning to a prospect like Justyn-Henry Malloy who is on fire at Triple-A Toledo to try and capture a spark, but they’re still going to have to put Malloy’s development ahead of any attempt to spark an offense that has no business being quite this bad.