After splitting the first two games of their four-game weekday series in Detroit against the Minnesota Twins, the Tigers built on Tuesday’s shutout win with second nice, nearly complete performance in a row in a 9-6 victory... but it got a little too close at the end.
Getting the start for Detroit tonight was Alex Faedo. Coming into tonight’s game his 2023 numbers don’t look so bad: 7.6 and 2.0 K’s and BB’s per nine innings, and a WHIP of 1.037. But he’d given up 7 home runs in only 35⅔ innings, which isn’t going to help anybody except your opponents. Also, according to Baseball Reference, his last name is pronounced “fie-a-dough”... I think I’ve been hitting the “e” a little too hard.
Bailey Ober, whose first name is actually John, got the nod for the visitors. He’s in his third full season with the Twins, although he spent a chunk of 2022 on the IL with assorted groin injuries. He spent a little time at Triple-A St. Paul earlier this season, and has bounced back and forth between the minors and the Tall Buildings — to borrow a Jim Price favourite — but lately he’s really cut down on walks and it looks like he’s here to stay. To wit, he hadn’t walked anyone since July 7 coming into tonight.
The Tigers got on the board early with two runs in the first: Riley Greene walked (how about that!), Matt Vierling singled, and Kerry Carpenter hit a single to right that Max Kepler bobbled. Greene was going to score all along, but the bobble allowed Vierling to follow him home and make it a 2-0 Tiger lead.
The Twins got those run back, and then some, in the second: Carlos Correa hit a leadoff solo homer to the deepest part of left-centre, followed a little later by a Joey Gallo a two-run home run to right. When the dust settled, the guests were up by a 3-2 score.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Zack McKinstry doubled down the left field line, and Eric Haase hit a single on a line to right to put runners on second and third with one out. Akil Baddoo struck out for the second out and left things up to Greene, who singled to tie the game at 3. Vierling saw that, thought it looked pretty fun, and did the same to drive in Haase and put the Tigers up 4-3.
Faedo got into a bit more trouble in the third, when Jorge Polanco hit a double to the gap with one out. A groundout pushed him to third with two outs, bringing Correa to the plate, who’d already homered; Faedo got him to chase a low slider for the third strike and the third out.
In the bottom of the third, Miguel Cabrera singled to left to pass Robin Yount for 19th place on the all-time hits list.
Miguel Cabrera's 3143rd career hit is a third-inning single off Bailey Ober. He's now 19th on MLB all-time list, passing Robin Yount. He passed Tony Gwynn to crack the top 20 yesterday. pic.twitter.com/tgMIrzMAlG— Jason Beck (@beckjason) August 9, 2023
Haase managed to hit a popup in the fourth that was high enough to get over a 6’9” pitcher, but soft enough to have it plop softly into the grass behind the mound for an infield single. That’s skill, baby.
Faedo’s day was done with two outs in the fifth, after walking Polanco. Andrew Vasquez was brought in to face a lefty, Max Kepler, and he got Kepler to ground out to first on a nice diving play by Spencer Torkelson. That means Faedo’s final line was 4⅔ innings, 4 hits (including two dingers), 3 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, which isn’t great but isn’t terrible, either.
To borrow something else from the late Mr. Price, if you make a good defensive play, you’re going to lead off the next inning... cue the TorkBomb™ and a 5-3 lead.
Brendan White took over for the sixth, and with one out he barely nicked Matt Wallner on the toe. Willi Castro doubled Wallner home for a 5-4 score and then stole third, and after a strikeout White was dispatched in favour of Tyler Holton. But Holton walked the pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow, who stole second to put runners on second and third, and the game was threatening to go completely sideways. But after a trio of two-strike fouls, Holton struck Kyle Farmer out with a shoulder-high fastball to end the threat. He then carried on into the seventh without incident.
Torkelson led off the seventh again, and again he hit a leadoff solo home run, putting the Tigers up 6-4. Is this Tork’s breakout game where those hard hits finally turn into something other than line-drives squarely at outfielders?
Cabrera got his third hit of the night and was lifted for a pinch-runner (Jake Rogers, heh), and after McKinstry hit a single, Haase cashed his fellow catcher in with a single to left field that deflected off Correa’s glove at short, for a 7-4 Tiger lead.
Holton carried on to start the top of the eighth, and darn-it if he didn’t get the Twins 1-2-3. My goodness, what a pickup: 2⅓ innings, no hits, one walk, three strikeouts. After Faedo’s early exit, this was a fantastic outing that really saved the Tigers’ butts.
In the bottom of the inning Vierling tripled with one out, and Torkelson followed with a walk to put runners on the corners. Jordan Balazovic uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Vierling to score and Torkelson moved up to second. Carpenter then followed with a ground ball to second base; Balazovic went to first to receive the throw but he dropped it, and Torkelson scored all the way from second. A double-play grounder from Rogers ended the inning, but it was a 9-4 game by that point.
Trey Wingenter took over for the ninth, and let’s just say it’s a good thing the lead was five runs. With one out he gave up a single, and after a flyout he walked the next two to load the bases. José Cisnero was summoned to get the final out, but on the first pitch, Kepler singled to make it a 9-5 game with the tying run, Correa, coming to the plate. But on a 2-2 count Cisnero got Correa to chase a slider down and away for strike three, and the ball game was over.
You may now unclench.
In case you missed it, Michael Lorenzen threw a no-hitter against the Washington Nationals tonight. He walked four and threw 124 pitches, and I think he was probably on his last batter of the night either way, but he got Dominic Smith to fly out to center to finish the job.
On This Date, Ten Years Ago
Also, when did the Yankees ever wear those hats with the white peak? Weird.
Stats and Notes
- Miguel Cabrera’s OPS numbers are quite different against lefties and righties. Coming into tonight’s game, against left-handers (69 (nice.) plate appearances)it’s .802; against rightites (170 PA) it’s .605.
- His OPS by month: .477, .550, .840, .739. (August just got started.) In his career overall, his highest OPS month has been May (.917), narrowly beating out June (.914).
- Holy mackerel, those career numbers are astounding. His lowest-OPS month has been September/October, with a mere .888.
- Used this approach to smoke some ribs on my barbecue today. Took a while, but they came out fantastic.
- Today in 1173, in a town just west of Florence, construction began on the bell tower of the local cathedral, or campanile. What the construction workers and designers didn’t know was that the ground underneath the tower wasn’t very stable, and shortly after construction began, it had already started tilting a few degrees to one side. The upper floors were built to accommodate that tilt, and it has been largely stabilized in the past few decades, so I don’t think the Leaning Tower of Pisa is going anywhere.