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Tigers 5, Guardians 0: Rodriguez strikes again

Yet another fantastic outing from Eduardo Rodriguez stifled Cleveland’s hitters as the Tigers made some early runs stand up.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The sunny Wednesday afternoon finale and rubber game of a three-game series in Cleveland against the Guardians featured another great outing from Eduardo Rodriguez, and the Tigers took the series with a 5-0 win, in slightly over two hours.

Rodriguez got the start for the Tigers, and he has been nothing short of sensational lately. His first two outings of the year were shaky, but since mid-April he’s been absolutely lights-out. In the five starts before today he’d gone an average of just under 7 innings, surrendering 18 hits in 34 23 innings, only two runs (both earned), four walks, and 33 strikeouts. The question is, would he be able to continue this good run today? After all, the second start of this streak was against the Cleves back on April 18, going eight shutout innings and striking out 10, so maybe he’s got their number.

Facing Rodriguez today was Peyton Battenfield, a sturdy 6’4” (193 cm) right-hander who made his major-league debut earlier this season. So far he’s been okay-ish, with a respectable WHIP of 1.192, but since his FIP is 5.11 vs. his ERA of 4.07, he’s been somewhat lucky: his BABiP-against is a measly .222, which is far below the major-league average this year so far of .298. To experience success at the major-league level he needs to take his walk rate down, too; coming into today it was a touch above 4 per nine innings, which ain’t gonna cut it.

The Tigers got things cooking early, as Zach McKinstry singled on the game’s first pitch and took second on a wild pitch. Javier Báez singled to put runners on the corners, and a Riley Greene groundout pushed McKinstry across to put Detroit up 1-0. Andy Ibáñez continued his hot hitting and doubled home Báez, making it 2-0.

They added to this lead in the third with Báez doubling, taking third on a groundout, and scoring on a Spencer Torkelson single. Ibáñez singled, pushing Torkelson to second, and both gentlemen scored on an Akil Baddoo double; when the dust settled the Good Guys were up 5-0.

The Guardians made things interesting in the fourth, with a pair of two-out walks and an infield single loading the bases for Mike Zunino, who’s never usually that good a hitter. (Remember 2021 when he hit 33 home runs and got some MVP votes, though?) Thankfully, Rodriguez threw a 1-2 fastball on the inside corner, and Zunino stood there like the house on the side of the road and watched it go by, as Ernie Harwell might’ve said.

Battenfield really settled down after Baddoo’s double, though, and the Guardians needed some innings from him as their bullpen’s been taxed in recent days. He really cut down on the hard contact, although a Miguel Cabrera lineout to end the sixth did register 93.2 mph for an exit speed.

Rodriguez was done after seven shutout innings. That’s four run-free starts out of his past five, and in that other one he only gave up one run. I was really hoping he’d be able to go the distance in this one, as I absolutely love complete games.

(And pitchers hitting.)

(Yes, you read that right.)

Jason Foley took over in the eighth and had a delightfully boring inning. Chasen Shreve was called upon to face the 4-5-6 hitters in the ninth; he’s had some rough outings of late, but his previous two have been no-run, multi-inning appearances. Shreve walked Josh Bell to lead things off, but then a foul pop-out, a strikeout and an infield flyout closed out the game without any further incident.

So, the Tigers scored some runs early, the pitching locked everything down from there, and there really wasn’t a whole lot of tension in this one. Just a nice, enjoyable afternoon.

Well, That’s Nice To See

Notes and Numbers

  • I still can’t get over last night’s futility-fest by the Tigers’ hitters with runners in scoring position. They had at least one runner in scoring position for every inning from the first through the eighth, and they scored exactly zero (0) times. In that span, Detroit hitters were 1-for-15, eventually stranding 11 LOBsters. That’s bush league.
  • Cleveland closer Emmanual Clase has had quite the workload in his two-plus full seasons in the major leagues. In 2021 he appeared in 71 games, finishing 51 with 24 saves. In 2022 he led the major leagues with 77 appearances, 67 games finished and 42 saves. After last night’s game he was again leading the majors with 20 appearances, 18 games finished and 13 saves. How’s his pitching this year? An ERA of 1.40, a WHIP of 0.865, and six home runs in 161 23 innings. I dunno, hopefully, his arm just falls off or something.
  • Cameron Maybin on the radio broadcast — who I am really enjoying — told a story surrounding his first major-league hit. In his first game he’d gone 0-for-4 against Chien-Ming Wang, and then before the second game, cigarette in hand, Jim Leyland told him, on his first at-bat, if there was a runner on, he was to execute a hit-and-run on the second pitch, “or else you’re outta here.”
  • Happy 235th birthday to French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel. (Pretend the “s” is silent; that’s the trick with a surprisingly large number of French words and names... go with “fruh-NELL”.) He put the final nail in the coffin of Isaac Newton’s “corpuscular” theory of light, which suggested light was made of little particles, in favour of Christiaan Huygens’ wave theory. He also invented the thin and effective Fresnel Lens, a brilliant (heh) idea that has found countless applications, including in lighthouses.