On days like this, it’s hard not to overextend one’s hopes for the Detroit Tigers 2021 season. The pitching and defense were generally quite good, while the offense flashed power from new sources. Sunday it added up to a 5-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Lakeland.
Spencer Turnbull, the Tigers de facto number one starter, looked good again. He went four innings as the process of stretching out the starters continues, punching out four and walking two, while allowing one earned run. Turnbull set down six in a row to begin his outing, then got a little help from his defenders in the third.
New left fielder Robbie Grossman was slotted in right field as manager A.J. Hinch continues to test his charges out of their comfort zones. After Turnbull walked the O’s Ryan McKenna, the center fielder stole second base and then tried to ramble home on an Austin Wynns single into right field. However, Grossman did a nice job charging the ball aggressively and threw McKenna out at the plate with a nice catch and tag from catcher Wilson Ramos.
Victor Reyes finally got into the action on Sunday as well, and contributed to the cause with a nice grab on a sinking liner in the second inning.
Daniel Norris came on in the fifth and made quick work of the O’s, burning through three hitters in just five pitches. He allowed just a double in his three innings of work, and needed just 29 pitches to wrap up his outing.
The Tigers offense got on the board first, as consecutive singles from Ramos and Reyes started the inning. Greg Garcia and JaCoby Jones followed with soft groundouts that ultimately brought Ramos around for the first run of the game. Beyond that we were in TTBDNS mode much of the afternoon.
However, the Tigers were prepared to jump on the O’s bullpen late, and they finally broke through in the eighth, courtesy of a pair of new names in the Tigers’ organization.
Harold Castro singled to lead off the inning, and after Spencer Torkelson struck out, backup catcher Dustin Garneau was hit by a pitch. That brought new infielder Zack Short to the dish. Short, acquired for Cameron Maybin from the Chicago Cubs, is a utilityman extraordinaire, described to me by a Cubs fan familiar with the Tigers as, “Andrew Romine on steroids.” Make of that what you will, but Short certainly announced his presence in his first plate appearance of the spring after some hangups with the COVID protocol. He jumped on a first pitch fastball and smoked it out to left-center for a three-run homer.
And the Tigers were not done. Akil Baddoo continues to demand a roster spot, and everyone’s favorite Rule 5 pick added more emphasis to his argument, following Short with an opposite field blast of his own.
Gregory Soto and Jose Cisnero mowed through the younger Orioles on their roster, allowing no baserunners in the final two frames and collected a combined three strikeouts. All in all a very sound pitching performance from your Tigers.
The Tigers will be back at it on Monday at 1:05p ET, taking on the Toronto Blue Jays. That game will also be televised on FSD in the Detroit area.