The Tigers got a fantastic, if short, start from Reese Olson on Monday night as they welcomed in the last place New York Yankees. Of course, the AL East is a little different beast than the Central. Unfortunately, the offense was pretty abysmal for the third straight game as the Yankees took this matchup 4-1.
The game started out with a bit of a wild and woolly first inning for Reese Olson. He walked DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, the former on a clock violation, which still seems odd to write in a baseball recap. However, Olson also struck out Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Another blunder on a pretty routine grounder by Spencer Torkelson allowed Isiah Kiner-Falefa to reach first and load the bases. Olson responded by carving up Anthony Volpe to get out of the jam unscathed, but he needed 32 pitches in the inning.
Meanwhile, Luis Severino has been downright terrible for the Yankees this season, but he had no trouble with the Tigers in the bottom half. The big right-hander struck out Zach McKinstry and Matt Vierling, while Riley Greene grounded out in between them.
Olson came back out in the second and got Everson Pereira swinging through a nasty changeup for his fourth strikeout. Oswaldo Cabrera singled, and that brought up the specter of the big boys coming to bat with runners on as the lineup turned over. However, Olson then struck out Kyle Higashioka as well on a nasty sinker down and in. Five outs recorded and all via strikeout in the early going for the rookie right-hander. He then fell behind LeMahieu 2-0, but bounced back to get him whiffing over another really good changeup.
That’s six strikeouts, and there aren’t many guys in the game throwing as good of a slider-changeup combination as Olson showed through two innings.
After Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter grounded and popped out, respectively, Miguel Cabrera lined one off Severino’s glove for a single. However, Severino bounced back, painting a fastball and a cutter on the inner edge to Parker Meadows, and then freezing him with a perfect fastball on the outer edge.
Olson kept it going in the third, whiffing Judge again on a slider down, and then spotting a sinker just under the zone and getting another whiff from Torres. That made eight straight outs by strikeout to start the game. Giancarlo Stanton slapped a single back through the box, but Olson sawed off Kiner-Falefa for a little blooper to Torkelson at first.
Despite his record this season, the Tigers continued to make Severino look in prime form early in the bottom of the third. Javy Baez and Carson Kelly quickly struck out, but Zach McKinstry drilled a drive to right for a triple. Unfortunately Greene’s recent struggles continued, as he bounced out to end the inning.
Reese Olson's 3Ks in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/knusMku4yg— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 28, 2023
Olson just continued to do his thing in the fourth. Volpe led off and grounded out, and then Olson carved up Pereira again, spotting a fastball down that was tipped into Carson Kelly’s glove. The only problem is that Olson continued to use up a ton of pitches. He got ahead of Cabrera 0-2, but couldn’t put him away and walked him. He bounced right back to get Higashioka swinging over another hellacious slider for his 10th strikeout of the game. Olson had 19 swings and misses recorded to that point, which is pretty wild. However, that last pitch was his 90th of the outing, so his day was quickly coming to an end.
We know Olson has a great slider, one of the best in the game, and a really good changeup to boot. What really was concerning in his minor league career was his struggles commanding the fastball. The Tigers have Olson throwing more sinkers than fourseamers, and that seems to have helped. He spotted quite a few of them in this game, which was encouraging.
Reese Olson's 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th Ks.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 28, 2023
Thru 4. pic.twitter.com/Pv48qIqrM6
It didn’t help that his teammates continued to struggle with Severino. Between them, Vierling, Torkelson, and Carpenter saw six pitches and all three grounded out. Olson had barely sat down, so the performance of the ol’ heart of the order there was rather infuriating.
Considering the lack of stress, AJ Hinch no doubt felt fine sending Olson back out for the fifth, and LeMahieu, trying not to fall behind, got a first pitch heater and grounded out. That helped with the pitch count issue a bit, but walking Aaron Judge, the next hitter up, did not. Olson got ahead of Gleyber Torres 0-2, and dropped a pretty good slider on the outer edge, but it was up near Torres belt and he whacked it to center for a double that scored Judge all the way from first. That was the end of Olson’s outing, but it was a damn good one and he was getting no help at all from his teammates.
Brendan White took over, and he did a nice job shutting any hopes of a Yankees rally down. White froze Giancarlo Stanton with a slider at the bottom of the zone, and Kiner-Falefa flew out to end the top half of the inning.
Olson’s final line: 4.1 IP, ER, 3 H, 4 BB, 10 K.
The bottom half of the fifth started with a Miguel Cabrera ground out. Parker Meadows drove a ball hard to center but Kiner-Falefa was there, and Báez grounded out. Brendan White got three quick outs in the top of the sixth.
Carson Kelly struck out to start the bottom half of the sixth, but McKinstry was up to the task, hammering a deep ball to right center field and racing around to third for his second triple of the night. The Yankees pulled the infield in and it worked out for them, as Riley Greene spanked a one-hopper back up the middle. Volpe made a nice snag and fired home from his knees as McKinstry went on contact. His throw was wide, but Higashioka picked it nicely and McKinstry was a dead duck. Vierling following with a line drive just off Volpe’s glove into left field and that brought Torkelson to the plate with runners on first and second. Unfortunately, in a 2-2 count Severino ramped it up to 99 mph and made a perfect pitch, blowing the fastball by Torkelson to strand the runners.
Missed the Sevy roar. Haven't gotten to see it much this season. pic.twitter.com/5HKo7Gourq— River Ave. Blues (@RiverAveBlues) August 29, 2023
The Tigers struggles to hit in Comerica Park, and Torkelson’s struggle to hit with runners in scoring position, continue...
Beau Brieske took over in the seventh and quickly punched out Higashioka. He then got LeMahieu whiffing on a sinker down. However, Brieske fell behind Judge 2-0 and tried to drop a right-on-right changeup on the inside edge to Judge. There’s a reason we make a big deal of it when a pitcher can do that consistently. This one did not work out as Judge blasted it to left to make it 2-0 Yankees. Another changeup down to Torres met the same fate, and it was 3-0 Yankees. Brieske did strike out Stanton to end the inning, but the way the offense was swinging the bats things looked bleak indeed.
Beau Brieske had allowed just one home run over 90 batters faced this year, but he just gave up back-to-back solo shots to left to Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) August 29, 2023
Kerry Carpenter led off the bottom of the seventh with a sharp single. Cabrera struck out, but a balk moved Carpenter to second. But Meadows grounded out to first, and Báez took a slider right down the middle first pitch and then grounded out to shortstop.
Jose Cisnero took over in the eighth, and having collapsed since the All-Star break, that didn’t bode well for this one either. Kiner-Falefa reached on an infield single to third to open the inning. Volpe grounded out back to Cisnero, moving Kiner-Falefa to second. Pereira struck out, but Cabrera singled to center to score the run. 4-0 Yankees. Cisnero yanked a slider for a wild pitch, moving Cabrera to second and then walked Higashioka. Chris Fetter came out for a chat, and Cisnero got LeMahieu to fly out, ending the inning.
Jonathan Loaisiga took over from Severino in the eighth and retired the Tigers in order. Alex Lange took the top of the ninth and after walking Aaron Judge he set the Yankees down in order.
Akil Baddoo didn’t get the start against Severino for some reason, but he pinch-hit against reliever Clay Holmes to start the inning and launched a solo shot to right to get the Tigers on the board. 4-1 Yankees.
Spencer Torkelson followed with a single back through the box, but Carpenter grounded into a double play and Miguel Cabrera struck out to end it.
After taking down the Guardians on August 20th, the Tigers have gone 2-5. LHP Tarik Skubal will take on reliever RHP Michael King and try to right the ship on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. ET.