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Phillies 3, Tigers 2: Swept for the second series straight

The offense struggled badly again, and once they finally broke through their most dependable reliever blew the game anyway.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers survived a no-hit bid by the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler and came back to take a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. Alex Lange couldn’t hold it, as everything is going bad in a hurry, and the Tigers were swept out of Philly by a score of 3-2 on Thursday night.

The Tigers went with the opener strategy in this one, trying to take a little heat off of Reese Olson and get him into the flow of the game before facing the toughest part of Philly’s order. It went pretty well, as Tyler Holton struck out leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber, walked Nick Castellanos, and then got Bryce Harper to ground into a 3-6-1 double play to end the first.

In the second inning, Akil Baddoo walked with two outs, while Nick Maton, Eric Haase, and Jonathan Schoop each struck out. Zack Wheeler had quickly established the tone and he would continue to batter the desiccated husk of an offense the Tigers are running out there all night long.

Olson took over in the bottom half of the second, collecting two quick outs before striking out Bryson Stott whiffing at a changeup.

Wheeler continued to dominate with three quick outs in the third, only one of them, a drive to center field from Zach McKinstry, hit hard. Olson allowed a Kody Clemens single but no more, and the two would cruise through the fourth and fifth innings without a hit allowed and Wheeler’s developing no-no intact. Olson’s slider and changeup continued to be lethal, and he even drew a few whiffs and fouls on fastballs in the zone.

Finally, in the bottom of the sixth, the armor cracked a bit. A one out walk to Schwarber where Olson lost the handle on his changeup was followed by a line drive single from Castellanos that moved Schwarber to third. Olson got ahead of Bryce Harper, but couldn’t put him away. Harper fouled off a couple of fastballs, then reached out and poked a changeup in the air to left field. It was an easy play from Tyler Nevin out there, but his throw home was offline as Schwarber tagged and scored. Trea Turner flew out to Baddoo in center to end the inning.

That would do it for Olson at 75 pitches. He allowed just a run on three singles and a walk, with three strikeout in his five innings of work. The kid is looking pretty good.

The offense is not looking good. The Tigers continued to get dominated by Wheeler in the seventh. Nick Maton was hit on the leg with two outs, but Haase flew out to right field on Wheeler’s 100th pitch as the no-hitter watch kicked into red alert mode with only two frames left to go. Wheeler only struck out eight, but the Tigers over and over lifted weak pop-ups and routine fly balls for outs.

Chasen Shreve took over in the bottom of the seventh and struck out J.T. Realmuto, Stott, and Brandon Marsh in order.

Baddoo grounded out to start the eighth. Schoop reached on a ground ball to Josh Harrison that he threw in the dirt. Clemens couldn’t quite scoop it, but it was ruled an error and the no-no went on....for a minute or so, when Nevin singled to right field, moving Jake Marisnick, pinch-running for Schoop, to third.

Wheeler got a nice hand as his night ended on a somewhat disappointing note. Serathony Dominguez took over and was greeted by Zack Short, who bunted one straight down into the dirt as Marisnick took off from third. The high hopper was fielded by Dominguez, but he had no play anywhere and we had ourselves a tie ballgame. Any hopes of a breakthrough for the Tigers’ offense were then foiled when McKinstry bounced into a double play to end the inning.

Jason Foley took over in the bottom of the eighth. Josh Harrison reached on a Báez throwing error with one out, but Foley popped up Schwarber and struck out Castellanos to send this to the ninth deadlocked at 1-1.

Craig Kimbrel took over in the top of the ninth, and Báez slapped his first pitch, a knuckle curve, to right field for a single. Kimbrel leaned back and blew Torkelson away with fastballs, but Báez was working to irritate Kimbrel and eventually drew his A throw. Kimbrel uncorked a wild pickoff toss that moved Báez to second base. Nick Maton fell behind taking back-to-back knuckle curves for strikes, but he laid off a fastball for a ball, fouled off another one, and then got the curve again and lined it to right for an RBI single as Báez raced around to score from second. The Tigers had a 2-1 lead, but they needed more.

Haase flew out, but Kimbrel was fading and he walked Baddoo and Marisnick to load the bases, bringing Tyler Nevin to the dish looking to further spoil the Phillies fun. He battled through an eight pitch AB but eventually flew out to deep center field.

So, for the first time in six games, the Tigers had a good chance at a victory. Alex Lange took over looking to wrap this one up after allowing his first home run in months in his last outing, courtesy of Jake Burger’s grand slam in Chicago. Unfortunately, he struggled again.

Bryce Harper drilled a first pitch curveball to right field for a double, and Trea Turner walked. Chris Fetter came out to settle Lange down, but the pressure was on now.

Lange fell behind Realmuto 3-1, but battled back to strike him out for the first out of the inning. Stott slapped a ground ball into the hole at shortstop with Báez playing near second base. The shortstop did a nice job getting to it to hold Harper at third and wisely held the ball, but it mattered not, as Marsh lifted a sac fly to left. Harper tagged and scored, and we were tied again. And Lange was still in a jam and not looking sharp.

That brought Kody Clemens to the dish. Lange missed with a sinker, then spotted one for a strike. Haase called for a changeup, and Lange missed away. For some reason Haase didn’t call for any curveballs, returning to a sinker which Lange fired down the middle. Clemens lined it sharply to right, Turner scored, and the Tigers were swept out of Philly and have now lost six straight.

Expectations are already gone with Greene and Eduardo Rodriguez out, but this team needs to get its head together quickly or it’s going to be an extremly long five weeks until the All-Star break.