Detroit Tigers’ young arms stand out in 4-0 loss to Toronto Blue Jays in spring training

Detroit Free Press

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LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-0, on Monday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.

The Tigers dropped to 7-7 in Grapefruit League play.

Statement about fans at Comerica Park

The Tigers released a statement during Monday’s game about the capacity for fans at Comerica Park in Detroit once the regular season begins. For now, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is allowing 1,000 fans at outdoor venues. The limit is only 2.4% of Comerica Park’s official 41,083 capacity.

At Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, there are 2,000 fans per game allowed in a ballpark that holds a maximum of 9,777 people — roughly 20% capacity — for spring training games.

[ Opinion: Come on, Gov. Whitmer: Let more Tigers fans into Comerica Park ]

On Monday, Republican lawmakers called on Whitmer to increase the capacity limit for Opening Day, which is scheduled for April 1 against the Cleveland Indians.

Here’s the Tigers’ statement: “In the coming days, we look forward to announcing more details on increased capacity for Opening Day and beyond at Comerica Park. For the past several months, we have been coordinating with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, public health and medical experts, government officials, Major League Baseball, and leading venues throughout the country, to develop a comprehensive plan that will allow fans to confidently and safely return to the ballpark for the 2021 Detroit Tigers regular season. We appreciate the passion, patience, and resilience of Tigers fans and expect to soon announce more details on increased ticket availability.”

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What happened in the game

Left-hander Matthew Boyd started for the Tigers and went four innings before giving way to prospect Matt Manning. On the sixth pitch of the game, leadoff hitter Jonathan Davis homered to left-center field. The Tigers’ bullpen — Manning and left-hander Tyler Alexander — kept the Blue Jays off the board for four innings, but Franklin Perez allowed two runs in the ninth. The bats only picked up four hits, led by Nomar Mazara’s two.

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Starting off

Boyd allowed four balls in play with an exit velocity of more than 100 mph, and his fastball averaged 92.4 mph. Still, he got six swings-and-misses — three with his slider, two with his changeup and one with his fastball. He used 60 pitches (39 strikes) and mixed his slider and changeup well in the third inning. Boyd gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk, with four strikeouts. This spring, the left-hander has a 2.00 ERA in nine innings across three games.

At the plate

Besides the 2-for-2 showing from Mazara, the Tigers didn’t accomplish much offensively. Outfield prospect Riley Greene, who entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, legged out an infield single, and Willi Castro had a sharp single to left field in the third inning. Detroit stuck out 10 times and only had two walks — an 11-pitch free pass taken by Dustin Garneau and a ninth-inning walk from Daz Cameron.

On the mound

Manning pitched two scoreless innings — the fifth and sixth frames. In the fifth inning, he struck out Teoscar Hernandez looking (95.7 mph fastball) to escape a jam with two runners in scoring position. The 23-year-old’s fastball averaged 95.6 mph and maxed out at 97.1 mph. He got two swings-and-misses with his fastball. Alexander posted perfect innings in the seventh and eighth. He worked efficiently — 18 pitches, 12 strikes — and got one strikeout. Perez gave up two runs on two hits and one walk in the ninth inning. He needed 20 pitches to record two outs (both strikeouts) before manager AJ Hinch pulled him after his second punch out. His fastball averaged 90 mph and touched 91.6 mph, but there’s a ton of work to do in his progression. Miguel Del Pozo got the final out.

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Prospects

Entering the seventh inning, the Tigers made numerous defensive changes: Greene (right field), Spencer Torkelson (third base), Parker Meadows (center field), Kody Clemens (second base) and Zack Short (shortstop). Cameron entered in the seventh inning as Miguel Cabrera’s pinch runner and stole second base. Torkelson struck out in his lone at-bat.

[ How Tigers’ Jonathan Schoop stayed ready, and where backup catcher race stands ]

Three stars

1. Alexander, 2. Manning, 3. Mazara.

Next up

Tuesday vs. New York Yankees in Lakeland.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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