After a Friday doubleheader split, the Tigers took on the Guardians in Cleveland for a Saturday night showdown. The Tigers got some good starting pitching, but several relievers couldn’t quite find the plate. Fortunately, they did just enough to stifle several late threats to allow Detroit to hold on for a 4-3 victory.
Matt Manning, who was originally supposed to start on Friday night before the rainout, manned (heh) the mound for the Michiganders. His previous start saw him pitch into the sixth, only giving up one earned run, but the previous three were, shall we say, lousy. Which Manning would we get tonight?
Opposing Manning tonight for the Ohioans was Tanner Bibee (BYE-bee), who has been sensational in his rookie season. Before tonight he pitched into, or through, the seventh inning four of his previous five starts, giving up no more than three runs in any of them. Two of those five starts were 1-0 Cleveland wins so, y’know, no pressure, kid.
The Tigers got off to a hot start in the first, when Kerry Carpenter thwacked a changeup on a line into the right-field seats for a three-run home run:
Cole Calhoun got a run back with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning, so it was a 3-1 game after one. There was lots of hard contact in the first couple of innings off Manning, and he got out of a tough spot in the second with two on and two out, but a one-hopper to shortstop got him out of the inning. He righted the ship in the third with five pitches, inducing three groundouts to second, giving Zack McKinstry a record-tying three assists in the inning.
Gabriel Arias led off the fifth with a sharp single to right, and Bo Naylor doubled to center; Riley Greene couldn’t cleanly corral the bounce off the wall, and Javier Báez’s couldn’t handle Greene’s throw. When the dust had settled, Arias had scored, Naylor was on third, and it was a 3-2 game with none out.
But then Manning managed an escape act that would’ve made Houdini jealous: he got a grounder to first (the Cleves did not have the Contact Play on), Steven Kwan hit a comebacker to Manning (who made a great throw to first right over Kwan’s head), and José Ramírez grounded to second (with McKinstry making a lovely play far to his left). All in all, Manning did a solid job limiting the damage, and the lone run only scored because of some questionable defence.
Because of his quick innings earlier, Manning had plenty left in the tank to carry on into the sixth, still hitting 94 mph on his four-seamer and his slider was looking pretty good all night. But to end the sixth, Will Brennan had a twelve-pitch at-bat that ultimately ended on a routine flyout to left, and by then Manning had thrown 87 pitches and his night was done.
Báez atoned for his earlier error with a leadoff home run in the seventh, and the lead was back up to two for the Tigers:
Will Vest started the bottom of the inning, and he gave up a one-out double and single that put runners on the corners. Kwan then singled to center, closing the gap to 4-3, and Alex Lange was brought in to face the dangerous Ramírez; he flew out softly to left for the second out. Calhoun, who’d homered earlier, walked to load the bases — Lange was all over the place — but darnit if Lange didn’t coax a groundout out of him, ending the inning. (Extra points to Jake Rogers this inning for handling all those curveballs in the dirt.) Lange’s ⅔ of an inning: 15 pitches, 8 strikes. I don’t think he’s fixed quite yet, folks.
Andrew Vasquez took over in the bottom of the eighth; he’s really gotta cut down on the walks to be successful. Andrés Giménez greeted him with an infield single, Ramón Laureano — you guessed it — walked on four pitches, and a groundout pushed those runners up to second and third. But then Bo Naylor popped out to first, and Myles Straw struck out swinging to end the threat.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, McKinstry walked, and he took off to steal second. Naylor’s throw was wild, allowing McKinstry to reach third on a nice, tag-evading slide. Alas, Rogers hit a scorcher to short for the third out, and it was all up to Jason Foley to close out the game, facing the top of the order.
So, how did Foley do? He struck out Kwan, got Ramírez to hit a screamer right at Carpenter, and Calhoun struck out Calhoun on three pitches. Finally, a reliever had a 1-2-3 inning!
Bring On the Robot Umps
- Batter: J. Rogers
- Inning: 4
- Umpire: C.B. Bucknor
We’ll Always Have the Memories
Eric Haase’s 21st home run with Dan Dickerson’s call. pic.twitter.com/ER1V9gQ4ED— Rogelio Castillo (@rogcastbaseball) September 11, 2021
Numbers and Whatnot
- You think the Tigers have been hitting better in August? Here’s the team’s OPS by month: .628, .697, .665, .668... and a nice .747 in August coming into tonight’s game. So, yeah, you’re not wrong.
- In the last week they’ve had an OPS of .812. With 13 home runs! Fun!
- Spencer Torkelson blasted a line drive to the top of the left-field wall in the third inning. A replay seemed to suggest it was a double, not a home run... but I’ll let you decide.
- Bill Clinton and Tipper Gore share a birthday today. Neat. There’s a mathematical problem called the Birthday Paradox, in which there’s a more-than-50% chance that two people in the same room will share a birthday if there’s 23 or more people in that room. It doesn’t seem like it should work out statistically, but it does.