Apparently neither the Tigers’ nor the Reds’ pitching staffs could find the plate with both hands, a flashlight and a map. In the end, Cincinnati came out the victor in Walkfest ‘23 by a 4-3 score.
Eduardo Rodriguez made his 23rd start for Detroit. Did you know this year is Rodriguez’s best year in terms of ERA, 0.63 earned runs per nine innings lower than 2019, in which he was sixth in the Cy Young voting? It’s true!
Making his second major-league start and appearance for the Reds was Connor Phillips. He was drafted in 2020 out of a junior college in Texas, and made steady progress up the minor-league chain since 2021. In the minors his strikeout rate was consistently 12-13 per nine innings, which is pretty eye-popping. He’ll also walk more than his fair share (sitting around 5 BB/9 in the minors). His first start was against a tough Mariners team on September 5, and while he didn’t stick around quite long enough to get the win, the Reds came away victorious and he struck out seven in 4⅔ innings.
The Reds got on the board in the second: after a single and a walk (the first of the night), TJ Friedl poked a base hit over the first-base bag for a two-run triple. Rodriguez also walked ninth-place hitter Luke Maile — not exactly a fearsome presence in the batter’s box — and you had to wonder if this was going to be another Rodriguez start in which he walked a bunch of batters. Indeed, in two of his previous three starts, he walked four batters. Let’s put a pin in that.
In the bottom of the third the Tigers evened the score: Zach McKinstry walked to lead off the inning, and after a Matt Vierling foul-out to the catcher, Spencer Torkelson did his thing on a fastball:
Rodriguez walked Harrison Bader to lead off the fourth, his fourth free pass of the night, so that ain’t great. A pair of singles loaded the bases, Chris Fetter came out for a chat, and whoops, a soft grounder to second produced a run. And then a really stupid play ensued: with runners on the corners and one out, Jonathan India struck out for the second out. Maile, who was on first, took off for second, and got in a bit of a rundown; meanwhile, Noelvi Marte, who was on third, came on down the line and scored, making it 4-2. COME ON, FELLAS.
The Tigers got one of those back in the bottom of the inning. Parker Meadows walked (obviously) with one out, stole second base, and came home on an Akil Baddoo double, making it a one-run game.
In the fifth, a walk and a single spelled the end of the day for Phillips; Fernando Cruz struck out a pair but walked Miguel Cabrera to load ‘em up, and he departed in favour of lefty Sam Moll to face lefty Meadows. The lefty won the battle — that is, the lefty pitcher, as Meadows grounded out to first to end the threat.
Rodriguez walked his fifth batter of the night to start the sixth, and after a flyout, his day was done. (Elly De La Cruz, the sensational rookie, came in to pinch-run when the count was full. That’s pretty unusual.) Miguel Díaz relieved Rodriguez and after a flyout De La Cruz stole second — he would’ve been out but Carson Kelly’s throw popped out of McKinstry’s glove — but it was a moot point as Díaz struck out Friedl to end the inning, and that sure was a long sentence.
Mind you, the Tigers walked plenty tonight as well: a mini-threat in the bottom of the sixth started with a pair of two-out walks, numbers six and seven on the night drawn by the Tigers. Alas, a Torkelson strikeout ended the inning.
Alex Faedo and his crazy hair came on for the seventh, needing eight crisp pitches to dispatch the Ohioans. In the bottom of the inning, a pair of one-out singles put two runners on, but Meadows struck out and Kelly flew out to center.
But Faedo joined the walk party in the eighth, giving a free pass to the leadoff hitter. He redeemed himself via the ol’ strikeout sandwich, though, with a flyout to left as the filling. His outing carried right on through to the ninth — to borrow a phrase from the late Jim Price, “Why not?!” — and he gave up a leadoff single but got a popout and the ol’ 5-3-5 double play, and no, that’s not a typo.
So, the stage was set. One-run game, going into the bottom of the ninth. On came Alexis Díaz, the Reds’ closer (and brother of injured Mets closer Edwin). Andy Ibáñez drew a one-out walk (obviously) to put the tying run on, and Zack Short pinch-ran for him... but then Tyler Nevin struck out for the second out. Short stole second during Meadows’ at-bat, but then he lined out to first to end the game.
At least Faedo looked pretty good, though.
He’s Been Pretty Good, Alright
Tyler Holton’s work out of the bullpen? *chef’s kiss*
Rookie Wins Above Average (WAA) Leaders (via @Stathead)— Foolish Baseball (@FoolishBB) September 13, 2023
1) Gunnar Henderson 3.5
2) Corbin Carroll 3.0
3) Kodai Senga 2.5
4) Matt McLain 2.4
5) Tanner Bibee 2.1
6) Davis Schneider 2.0
7) Andrew Abbot 1.9
8) Tyler Holton 1.9
9) Eury Pérez 1.8
10) Yainer Diaz 1.7
Numbers and Such
- Something interesting popped out at me when I was looking at Sawyer Gipson-Long’s minor-league stats. In college and in almost every year in the minors, he’d strike out at least 10 per nine innings... with one exception: 2022, the year he came over from Minnesota in the Michael Fulmer trade. Maybe they thought he was toast and gave up on him, only to have his strikeout numbers bounce back the next year? Not really sure about that one.
- I am sure, though, that when I hear his name, I immediately think about country band Sawyer Brown. They had a few hits over the years.
- In case you missed it, Max Scherzer is probably done for the season with a strained teres muscle. I was watching the Rangers/Jays game last night, and... yeah, he tweaked something and was pretty mad at himself.
- A guy in a job interview is asked what his greatest weakness is. He says, “I’m too honest.” The interviewer responds, “I don’t see how that could be a weakness. I’d think that’d be a strength!” The guy replies, “I don’t really care what you think.”
- On this day in 1848, Phineas Gage was injured in a railroad construction accident in Vermont. This wouldn’t normally be newsworthy nearly two centuries later, but since Gage survived the incident — a metal rod 32 mm in diameter was driven through his skull and brain — and suffered personality differences afterwards, he was a unique and instructional case in the development of the fields of neurology and neuropsychology.