A forecast for thunderstorms Wednesday evening in Michigan prompted a preemptive postponement of that game to Thursday afternoon, and a straight getaway-day doubleheader was arranged between the Detroit Tigers and
California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels. When the dust finally settled, Shohei Ohtani had the (pitching) game of his life, and added some sparks on offense as well.
Game 1: Angels 6, Tigers 0
It was the pitching matchup that wasn’t initially supposed to happen: Michael Lorenzen for the Tigers, and Shohei Ohtani for the Angels. But it did! Wheeee!
Lorenzen, as we all know, was the lone Tiger at the All-Star Game and he’s been having a lovely season so far. (So lovely as to warrant a trade? We’ll see.) Coming off a sensational seven-inning start in Kansas City, on the year he’s had a WHIP under 1.1, the lowest walk rate of his career (2.3 per 9 innings), and thrown the second-most innings in his career. He came into the game having thrown 21 ⅔ consecutive scoreless innings. I still wish A.J. Hinch would let him hit on occasion.
Speaking of pitchers who hit... Ohtani! What a sensation this guy is. Crushes dingers, whiffs batters, steals bases. Then he’ll make you an omelette, do your taxes, and sew you a slick silk suit while he’s at it; dude can do it all. Pitching-wise, though, he’d been a little shaky lately: his three starts before today all saw him give up five runs, and in his previous start he surrendered four home runs to the Pirates on July 21 (but he also struck out nine and got the win). Apparently, he’s been battling some blister/fingernail issues... but whatever was bothering him before appears to have been plenty taken care of.
The Angels got on the board in the second with a single and a double, and a sacrifice fly by the delightfully-named Trey Cabbage. Lorenzen had his changeup working well early, getting lots of swing-and-miss on it, striking out five in the first three innings — although with the run in the second, his scoreless-inning streak ended at 22 ⅔.
The Angels added runs in the fourth with another single and double to set up Cabbage again; this time around he hit a single to score both of them, making it a 3-0 game.
The Tigers finally got a hit of Ohtani in the fifth when Kerry Carpenter managed a single, but he was promptly erased on a double play. That was the only hit the Tigers would get for the entire game.
Lorenzen’s day was done after five innings. He gave up 3 runs, walked one and struck out seven; if that’s your final start as a Tiger, well, Michael, it’s been a decently fun ride, and thanks for yelling on every single pitch you threw. Zach Logue came in for the sixth and promptly gave up a double to Mickey Moniak and a two-run home run to Taylor Ward, for a 5-0 Angels lead.
We’re a little light on Tigers highlights for this game, so here’s Lorenzen striking out Ohtani in the first. Enjoy.
21-pitch opening inning for Michael Lorenzen, who struck out the Angels in order -- including this called third strike on his friend and ex-teammate Shohei Ohtani -- after Luis Rengifo reached on a Zack Short error. pic.twitter.com/iVpo7ppWeF— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 27, 2023
Speaking of our favourite two-way Japanese player, he was having a pretty easy time of things on the mound: he was reaching the high-90s with his fastball deep into the game, and through six had faced the minimum 18 batters. With two outs in the seventh, though, he issued a four-pitch walk to Torkelson and you had to wonder if he was starting to—whoops, nope, he then struck out Carpenter on three pitches, the last of which was a perfectly-placed curveball. False alarm.
Ward got to Logue again while leading off the eighth, sneaking a fly ball into the shrubbery in centre to make it a 6-0 game. On a doubleheader day, even with the 27th roster spot opened up, you’re going to need some relievers to give you multiple innings, and Logue was that man in Game 1. Aside from the pair of mistakes to Ward, I guess he did fine: in the end he threw four innings in relief, gave up three runs, walked none and struck out five.
Ohtani came back out for the ninth inning, the first time in his major-league career that he’s ever pitched into the ninth. His pitch count was at 97 to start the inning, and honestly, at this point it was pretty clear the Tigers weren’t going to win so, heck, I love complete games, let’s see him do it — which he did with a 1-2-3 ninth.
It was a one-hit shutout by Ohtani, his first-ever complete game in the major leagues. He was reaching 98 mph in the ninth, locating pitches perfectly all day, and struck out eight; the Tigers lineup isn’t exactly a Murderers’ Row, but that was just an impressive performance. You can’t help but tip your cap to that.
Game 2: Angels 11, Tigers 4
In the second game, Matt Manning got the nod for the Tigers. The less said about his previous start, the better — not because Manning wasn’t solid, of course, but he was lifted after a rain delay and everything fell apart for the Tigers after that against the Padres. In his past few starts he’s been a little inconsistent, giving up either no runs or four, but overall this season he’s been decent enough, after spending time on the shelf with a broken toe.
Patrick Sandoval started for the Angels in the nightcap-of-sorts. This season Sandoval’s seen his walks creep upward towards four per nine innings, which is pretty high. Similarly, his strikeout rate is down a tick this year, although he’s been excellent the past few seasons with limiting home runs, giving up only 7 in 93 innings coming into today. But, remember, last year Sandoval threw a shutout of his own in Detroit; Tiger fans were hoping he wasn’t going to repeat that.
Manning came out strong, but in the second the Angels put up a five-spot highlighted by a two-run line drive home run to left by, you guessed it, Ohtani. If he was tired from just throwing a complete game on a hot day, he sure didn’t show it there.
In the third inning, the Tigers got their first runner of the day to third base, through a single, an infield single/throwing error combination. And, what do you know, Torkelson came through with an RBI groundout for the first Detroit run of the day. Carpenter kept the line moving with a single through the middle, scoring Matt Vierling for a 5-2 game.
The Angels widened their lead in the fourth with an Eduardo Escobar solo home run, though, making it 6-2. Then with two outs in the frame, Ohtani gave the Angels another run with a solo shot of his own. A lineout to left ended the inning with the Tigers now down by five runs.
Rogers led off the bottom of the fourth with a lineout to right followed by a Cabrera foul-tip strikeout and a McKinstry lineout to go down 1-2-3. The Halos followed suit in the top of the fifth, keeping things right where they were on the scoreboard.
The Tigers looked to get something going early on a Short single but Vierling grounded into a double play and Ibañez flew out to center. While there was no action happening on the field, Hinch brought in Trey Wingenter to spell Manning after a rough outing for the right-hander.
Hunter Renfroe greeted the reliever with a solo home run on the third pitch he saw to push the score up to 8-2. The rest of LA’s offense went down in order after that, maintaining the six-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
The Angels also made a pitching change this inning, replacing Sandoval with Jacob Webb. The fourth-year hurler walked Torkelson on five pitches before getting him out on a force out off the bat of Carpenter. Baez, predictably, struck out looking to end the frame.
The Tigers finally got some relief from Ohtani’s dominance when he was replaced by Michael Stefanic — who promptly flew out — at DH to start the top of the seventh. Then, Moniak walked but Ward grounded into a double play, keeping the current score intact.
Andrew Velazquez replaced Moustakas and Gerardo Reyes was summoned to the mound for the Tigers’ half of the frame. Cabrera grounded out, but after a nine-pitch at-bat, McKinstry doubled to right; Nick Maton came in as a sub for Short but grounded out. The good news is that the Tigers pushed McK across the plate thanks to a fielding error by Neto on Vierling’s grounder, which was followed by a single by Ibañez. Could the Tigers claw back into this one?
Unfortunately, Tork grounded out to third, ending the threat and leaving Detroit with a five-run deficit heading into the eighth.
Chasen Shreve replaced Wingenter and off we go into the final two frames of the game! The lefty got Velazquez to ground out but Thaiss hit a line-drive single to get a runner on base. Renfroe singled on the eighth pitch he saw, making things a bit uncomfortable for the Tigers, but Escobar and Renfroe flew out to end the threat.
Zack Weiss took the ball from Reyes in the bottom of the eighth, getting Carp out on a grounder before hitting Baez with a pitch. Rogers coaxed a walk out of him to put two on with one out before Miggy struck out swinging, which led to Aaron Loup entering the game for Weiss. McKinstry was not fazed, lining a single to drive in Baez... but Rogers was thrown out trying to advance to third — which was upheld after review. Oh well, 8-4, Angels.
Brendan White replaced Shreve in the top of the ninth, starting strong by getting Neto to ground out. However, he walked Stefanic and surrendered a single to Moniak, making things way too stressful for the final frame. He then walked Ward to make things worse, but following a mound visit, the righty got Velazquez to strike out swinging. Two down.
Thaiss took advantage of the situation by lining a first-pitch sweeper into right to score two, pushing the score up to 10-4. Renfroe followed with another single to make it a seven-run lead before Escobar grounded out to end the pain. But the damage had already been done.
Jaime Barria replaced Loup to kick off the final half-frame of the game, serving up a walk to the Wolfman who was immediately erased on a double play grounder by Vierling. Then the Tigers were put out of their misery when Ibañez grounded out for the third and final out.
The final line for starter Matt Manning in Game 2: seven runs on seven hits (THREE home runs) and one walk while striking out five over five frames. Not the kind of outing you expect from a pitcher who is not far separated from their first career no-hitter (tandem or not).
Joey Votto is an International Treasure
Check Out This Grip
I love clips of ultra-slow-motion knuckleballs being thrown, barely rotating on their way to the plate. It’s mesmerizing.
But in this video of Devin Williams of the Brewers, check out the slo-mo of him releasing one of these devastating breaking balls at about the 10-second mark. The way he gets side-spin on that is... well, it seems pretty unusual to me, but what do I know? I think I might’ve thrown one good curveball in my entire life.
Notes and Numbers
- Things are getting a little interesting in Deadline Deals Season, no? Go check out Mr. Day’s piping-hot take on what this means for the Tigers.
- Zach McKinstry’s OPS by month this year: .775, .865, .485, .630. I know people have been talking about how lousy he’s been lately, but his July has been better than his June.
- On the other hand, his walk totals by month: 4, 20, 4, 2. “One of these things is not like the others...”
- Michigan? Michigan State? I hope they both do well in all their sporting endeavours.
- I may disagree with Ted Nugent on a whole lot of things, but Queen of the Forest is so overwhelmingly guitar-y, I can put that aside for three minutes and change.
- A more appropriate song for this week, perhaps: “Tradewinds” by Super Furry Animals. (Yes, that video is extremely weird.)
- On this day in 1866, the first transatlantic telegraph cable was completed between Ireland and Newfoundland. I assume the first message sent through that cable was, “So, is it rainy and foggy over there, too?”