The Detroit Tigers had a day off between the home opener and Saturday’s matchup with the Boston Red Sox, but the rest didn’t seem to do the team any good as the Motor City Kitties fell, 14-4, in a game they never stood a chance in.
Joey Wentz struggled to find any command in his second start of the season, and A. J. Hinch pulled him after facing just 10 batters, leaving the bases loaded for Garrett Hill in the second inning. Wentz was missing high with his fastball and inside with his cutter when he didn’t leave it over the plate. His curveball got a little more play than it usually does, but it wasn’t generating a ton of swing-and-miss despite finding the right spot most of the time.
Just so it doesn’t go forgotten, Wentz retired the first three batters of the game in order. He wasn’t horrible in his first start of the season, either, so there’s hope yet for the second-year major leaguer.
Boston didn’t need to do much to take the lead. Wentz walked in a pair of runs in the second, after starting the inning by giving a free base to Masataka Yoshida. Alex Verdugo got the only hit of the day off Wentz, a double to right field.
That’s when Hill came in and promptly gave up a grand slam to Rafael Devers on a changeup running off the plate. It wasn’t the worst pitch in the world, but that doesn’t mean much if the ball still leaves the yard and four runs cross. Hill got Justin Turner to line out in serve pitches to end the inning, but the damage was done. That was probably the same moment most fans reading this turned off the TV and decided to do something better with their Saturday. It’s hard to blame you...
Rafael Devers, ladies and gents. pic.twitter.com/7DCC7zQIaz— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 8, 2023
Detroit couldn’t get much offense going against Boston starter Tanner Houck, who allowed just two batters to reach the first time through the lineup. Akil Baddoo, who was called up to replace Austin Meadows, singled in the first, and Nick Maton walked in the second.
Adam Duvall homered in the third to add another run to the Red Sox lead, but Hill settled down after that. He’d finish out the third, fourth and fifth for Detroit before turning things over to Tyler Alexander.
The Tigers finally put some offense together in the fourth inning. Riley Greene started things off with his third walk of the season. Javier Báez struck out on that slider off the plate that continues to elude him, but Kerry Carpenter came through with a single to put runners on the corners for Nick Maton, who laced a sinker left up in the zone for an RBI double down the first-base line. Spencer Torkelson drove in a second run for Detroit with a sacrifice fly to left-center.
Nick Maton drives in the Tigers' first run with a clutch pay-off swing.#RepDetroit pic.twitter.com/ggWpVgnFIu— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) April 8, 2023
Alexander pitched a clean sixth, getting the bottom third of Boston’s to go down in order. He struggled in the seventh and eighth, though, allowing runs to score in each inning. Devers homered for the second time with no one on and one out, bringing the score to 9-2 after seven, and four Red Sox put together hits in the eighth to gain a double-digit lead.
Boston showed some mercy and pinch hit for Devers with two men on in the eighth, and they didn’t try to tag up on a ball to right field that had sacrifice fly potential. It’s okay to sigh if you’re still reading at this point. It’s been a tough start to the season... and we’re only eight games into it.
Houck finished his night for Boston after just five innings, so it was Zack Kelly keeping the Tigers quiet in the sixth and seventh. Kaleb Ort came in pumping 98 mph in the eighth, and Detroit had zero answers for it. Yes, even Nick Maton, who Matt Shepard insists can hit the fastball well, struck out on a 96.6 mph heater outside the zone. (Read that last sentence again with heavy sarcasm if you didn’t the first time).
Zach McKinstry got to pitch the ninth with Detroit being down more than eight runs. For those who missed it, one of the many rules changed by MLB this season is the one regarding when position players can pitch. The new rule says that teams have to be up by 10 or more in the ninth inning, down by eight runs at any time or in extra innings to put a position player on the mound.
Raimel Tapia - Boston Red Sox (1)— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) April 8, 2023
Duvall padded his stats with a double and Raimel Tapia hit a no-doubter to right field. 14-2, Boston.
Finally, McKinstry got out of the inning, and the Tigers decided to give the die-hard fans something to cheer about before going home. With two outs, McKinstry walked, Jake Rogers got hit by a pitch and Akill Baddoo singled to load the bases for Riley Greene. The former fifth-overall pick singled in a pair, and Báez put a ball into play that Enrique Hernandez made an error on to score another. Ryan Kreidler, who replaced McKinstry at third, struck out to end the game, but at least there was some fight at the end to build off of on Sunday.
Detroit is back at it tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET in search of at least one win in the series.