The frustrated grimace Casey Mize wore on his way off the mound Wednesday night reflected his disappointment over a two-run lead that vanished. He might have been the only person connected with the Tigers with that face.
This was the moment Tigers fans and personnel had been anticipating ever since
The frustrated grimace
This was the moment Tigers fans and personnel had been anticipating ever since Detroit drafted Mize first overall in 2018. He didn’t get a decision in the 5-3 loss to the White Sox, but his 4 1/3 innings left an indelible impression on the Detroit sports scene as well as the record books.
Never had a Tigers starter struck out seven or more batters without a walk in his Major League debut. No Major League pitcher had done it since another No. 1 overall pick, Stephen Strasburg, debuted for the Nationals on June 8, 2010. Mize’s splitter, which he deployed on Yoán Moncada for his first Major League strikeout on his second big league batter, became a highlight pitch. And Tigers fans found a must-watch pitcher again.
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Asked a day earlier what he expected of himself, Mize said he expected to give his team a chance to win like always, but that he also expected to have a lot of fun. He kept up his end of a pitching duel with fellow White Sox debutee and former SEC rival Dane Dunning before José Abreu and Edwin Encarnación homered off of Gregory Soto in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie for Detroit’s eighth consecutive defeat.
Mize racked up two strikeouts in the first inning, then rebounded from Encarnación’s leadoff homer in the second to hold the damage there. Mize fanned Tim Anderson on his splitter during a clean third inning, then retired the side after an Eloy Jiménez infield single in the fourth.
Jeimer Candelario’s three-run homer gave Mize a lead to protect in the fifth, but Zack Collins’ leadoff double put Mize on the defensive. Mize fanned Adam Engel on a fastball, but Anderson adjusted to the splitter and sent a seeing-eye single through the left side for an RBI single. Moncada’s game-tying single chased Mize from the game.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.