It’s starting to feel legit.
Following a 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, the Detroit Tigers improved to 13-8 in May and might actually be competitive heading into the summer. Part of that is being in the weakest division in all of baseball, but this team is playing much more sound baseball than it was a month ago.
The heart of the order — Javy Baez, Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson — is figuring it out and drove in four of Detroit’s five runs, and even the question marks on the pitching staff are starting to shine.
Things started off slow for the Tigers, though, going down 1-0 early. Jake Burger caught Eric Haase napping and swiped the first base of his career. Haase looked surprised that Burger took off, but Baseball Savant has the 27-year-old’s sprint speed in the 77th percentile of MLB players. Burger came around to score almost immediately on a Tim Anderson flare to right field.
Detroit had a chance to answer in the bottom of the third after Lucas Giolito walked the bases loaded, but Riley Greene got doubled up on a line drive hit right back to second base.
Fortunately, the mighty Akil Baddoo launched a no-doubter into the seat in right field, tying the game at one in the bottom of the fourth. Had Greene gotten back to the bag in time, Baddoo might have hit a grand slam.
Giolito stayed rattled after the Baddoo homer. A double for Haase and two more walks loaded the bases for Javier Baez, who laced a single up the middle to score Miggy and the Detroit backstop. Spencer Torkelson punished a fastball left middle-middle to make it 4-1 and end Giolito’s night.
Meanwhile, Faedo was putting together one of the best nights of his career, setting a new personal best with 10 strikeouts. His slider looked great against righties and his changeup falls off the table against lefties. It’s the best either pitch has looked all season, and the results match the effort.
Alex Faedo, Filthy 87mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/8U62JN20yY— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 25, 2023
Faedo’s now at 22 strikeouts with a 0.74 WHIP over 21 2⁄3 innings this season. The only thing holding him back (besides a fourth pitch) is the long ball. He’s given up six homers this season, including a solo shot to Gavin Sheets immediately after Detroit gave him a three-run lead.
An 18.5% home run to fly ball rate suggests that Faedo has been incredibly unlucky this season. The home runs should even out over the rest of the year, but there’s no doubt guys have hit him hard early in the season. If he can figure out the home run problem, Faedo could end up being a solid arm for Detroit
Alex Faedo is the 3rd Tigers pitcher in franchise history with 10 K, 0 BB and 3 or fewer hits allowed joining Denny McLain (1965) and Aníbal Sánchez (2014) pic.twitter.com/MKB8ZwuEER— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 26, 2023
Greene got back the run for Faedo in the bottom of the sixth with a single up the middle to score Zach McKinstry.
A. J. Hinch decided not to push Faedo any further after 94 pitches and went to Jose Cisnero in the seventh. Cisnero set the White Sox down in order and Jason Foley needed just nine pitches to get through the eighth.
Zack Short added two more runs to the Tigers’ total in the bottom of the eighth, moving things out of save territory. Mason Englert got the call to close things out, and got a game-ending to close out the Tigers’ 23rd win of the season.
Walking 11 times and holding your opponents to zero free bases will always be a good thing, and Detroit capitalized most of the time it got runners on base.
The Tigers are back at it tomorrow (May 26) at 6:40 p.m.