A gloomy Sunday Michigan afternoon provided the backdrop for the fourth and final game of the extended weekend series between the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles took an early lead, the Tigers made it close in the late innings, but couldn’t complete the comeback as the O’s won the finale, 5-3.
Spencer Turnbull made his sixth start of the season for the Tigers. As we all expected, in his first year back from an extended absence due to surgery, he’s been a little rusty; the best of the lot coming into today was his five-inning, six-hit, one-run outing in Toronto on April 13.
Opposing the Detroiters was Kyle Bradish, who’s in his second season with the Baltimoreans. Last year, in 23 starts and 117 2⁄3 innings, his walks were a little high and he gave up a few too many home runs, but his WHIP was pretty soft at 1.402. This is his age-26 year and he made his fourth start today; so far this season he’s regressed a bit. He was a fourth-round draft pick in 2018 so he probably never had super-prospect status, and his minor-league stats were never spectacular, so making it to the bigs (and staying there) has to be quite an accomplishment.
The Orioles drew first blood in the second: after a walk and an error by Zach McKinstry, a two-out single by Ryan O’Hearn pushed across the first run of the day. They continued their tour around the bases in the third, with a pair of doubles to left field brought around a second run.
Meanwhile, the Tigers only managed a Nick Maton double through the first three innings. Coming into today’s tilt, the Tigers were 14th in OPS in the American League, 14th in on-base percentage, 15th in slugging percentage, and 13th in batting average.
[insert sigh here]
[I actually sighed when typing the above, for the record]
The Orioles added a run in the fourth with a solo home run to right, making the score 3-0. Turnbull needed 83 pitches to get through four innings, which was as far as he got. His final line: 4 innings, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. He threw 50 strikes (60.2%), which isn’t great.
Tyler Holton took over in the fifth, and Baltimore put on a “productive outs” clinic: Ryan Mountcastle doubled, took third on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly, making it 4-0. Matt Vierling threw a rocket but it was just off-line, and Jake Rogers made an impressive play to snag the throw and nearly nab Mountcastle. But, since “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades,” that don’t count for nothin’, son.
Rogers got a pair of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, though:
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Riley Greene kept the good swings coming with a two-out single, and with a full count Javier Báez doubled to left to score Greene all the way from first, narrowing the gap to 4-3. Spencer Torkelson was plunked to put runners on first and second, and that was the end of Bradish’s day. Cionel Perez replaced Bradish, and Nick Maton struck out on a check-swing that was declared a swing by the powers-that-be, probably unjustly. (Fight the power, Wolfie!) But hey, at least we had a ball game at this point.
Holton really settled down after giving up that first-batter double in the fifth, cruising nicely through the sixth and featuring a nice slider at times with a healthy dose of changeups. After a one-out walk in the seventh Holton was dismissed in favour of Jason Foley, who induced a double-play grounder, which was nice. He also got another double play in the eighth, so good on ya, sir.
Down by a run with six outs to go, Torkelson worked a leadoff walk. After an Eric Haase strikeout, Zach Short poked a short fly ball to center to put two runs on with one out. But then Matt Vierling struck out looking on what was definitely ball four, and the Orioles sent for Yennier Cano, who hadn’t given up a hit in the first 26 batters he’d faced this year. Sure enough Rogers struck out, and the threat ended.
Jorge Mateo led off the ninth with a no-doubter off Chasen Shreve to left field which was barely fair, widening the gap out to 5-3. Alex Lange came in to try and keep things close for the bottom of the frame, which he did, striking out a pair.
Cano continued on to the ninth and he got a groundout, strikeout and a groundout, and that was it.
A Skubal Update
Let’s See How YOU Like It, Marlins Fans
OH MY GOD A CUBS FAN JUST PULLED A STEVE BARTMAN IN MIAMI pic.twitter.com/xtC1P2PDZg— Calico Joe (@CalicoJoeMLB) April 30, 2023
It isn’t in a playoff game or anything, but the parallels here are pretty superb.
Notes and Observations
- From April 12 through 29, Spencer Torkelson’s slash line was .175/.246/.263 for a .509 OPS. He struck out 14 times in 65 plate appearances (21.5%).
- Say what you will about his bat, but I think we can all agree that Tork has been much better with the glove than we all thought he’d be. (Cue the Javier Báez jokes here.) Then again, first base ain’t hard.
- Coming into today, the Rays had the most home runs in the American League, with 57. The Tigers were second-last with 19.
- How crazy is it that Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are probably going to pitch against the Tigers this upcoming week? (Answer: very.) Remember, Verlander’s coming off an injury and Scherzer was suspended for sticky stuff. I wish them both good luck... against everyone else.
- This one goes out to the Canadians... GET THOSE TAXES DONE TODAY! Despite the PSAC strike, your taxes are due by May 1, rain or shine.
- Happy 246th birthday to Carl Friedrich Gauss, a physicist and mathematician from Germany. Dude did all the things: laid the groundwork for the discovery of the first asteroid, invented the least-squares method (shout-out to all the stats people out there), co-invented the telegraph, and proved the fundamental theorem of algebra. He invented the magnetometer, and a unit of magnetic field strength roughly equal to that of the Earth, the gauss (G), is named in his honour. (For reference, 10⁴ G = 1 T.)