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Detroit 3, Rangers 2: Tigers salvage the series and the not-so-good day

Detroit fans desperately needed something to smile about. The boys delivered.

Texas Rangers v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Spirits among Detroit Tigers’ faithful were low entering Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Texas Rangers.

Not only had the Texas offense whooped Detroit’s pitching two days in a row. Not only did the team just lose its best pitcher and best position player for indefinite periods less than 24 hours apart. But Joey Wentz, sporting a 7.80 ERA and 55 ERA+, was ticketed to be the man to stop the streak and give fans something to smile about on this terrible, no good, very bad day.

And to the shock of everyone, Wentz... had a solid outing against baseball’s best offense and the Tigers won 3-2.

No, seriously.

Despite surrendering seven hits, the 27-year-old held the dynamite Texas offense to just one run, striking out five Rangers. That included a three-K third inning.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Texas hitters weren’t picking the ball up. He surrendered eight batted balls of 100 mph or more off the bat — nine if you count Josh Jung’s 99.6 mph groundout. But it got the job done.

But his offense needed to back him up. Ranger hurler Dane Dunning entered Wednesday’s game in the midst of a breakout season, but the former White Sock has struggled against the Tigers in the past. He was 0-2 against the Cat Team with a 5.79 ERA entering Wednesday.

After five solid one-run innings — the only tally was via a Javier Báez ground ball that would’ve been an inning-ending double play if not for a Marcus Semien throwing error — Texas manager Bruce Bochy sent Dunning back out for the sixth.

Perhaps he shouldn’t have. Nick Maton and Tyler Nevin singled, and Texas turned to Jonathan Hernandez to escape the situation. Zack Short immediately squared up to bunt, and he laid down a perfect sacrifice — so good, in fact, that he beat the throw to first to load the bases with nobody out.

The Tigers have been one of the worst teams with the bases loaded this season. In fact, they had a similar situation earlier in the same game when Nevin struck out to leave the bases juiced. But this time, Jake Rogers’ sacrifice fly and a single from fresh-faced Jake Marisnick scored two runs to put Detroit ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth.

Speaking of Marisnick, the outfielder — whom the Tigers acquired from the Chicago White Sox for cash considerations on Tuesday — introduced himself to Detroit faithful with a good game. It only took five pitches for him to make a nice catch in the deepest part of Comerica Park’s outfield.

He had multiple putouts and ripped two singles, including the run-scorer in the sixth.

That RBI proved necessary. Chasen Shreve allowed a run in his 23 innings of work, but Will Vest, Jason Foley and Alex Lange all pitched scoreless outings to help the Tigers avoid a sweep.

Vest got five outs with no trouble. Foley worked out of a Shreve-induced jam but allowed a single and a triple in the eighth. Fortunately, the single was promptly erased by a double play, meaning the triple came with the bases empty. Josh Smith’s weak groundout ended the threat.

Lange continued to pitch like one of the best closers in baseball to finish the game. He earned his 10th save of the season, striking out ex-Tiger Robbie Grossman and Nathaniel Lowe in the process.

Detroit improves to 26-28. They’ll take Thursday off before making their first trip to Guaranteed Rate Field of 2023 to take on the White Sox. Reese Olson will make his career debut on Friday.