The look on Casey Mize‘s face as he watched Matt Olson’s first-inning home run soar 438 feet out to right field summed up the pitch as well as his outing Saturday. The Tigers’ right-hander had the A’s slugger in an 0-2 count, couldn’t get him to chase splitters out of the zone, then left a 95 mph fastball over the plate and paid for it with his first home run allowed this season. He didn’t need to watch it land before turning around and asking for another ball.
After back-to-back pitches in the heart of the zone met a similar fate in the second inning, Mize had a talk in the Tigers’ dugout. The way Oakland’s pitching has held down Detroit’s offense, the Tigers’ third consecutive loss was already looking likely, but the rest of the outing became a learning experience for Mize.
Five days after Mize shut down Houston’s offense for seven innings for his first Major League win, the former top overall pick allowed five runs in as many innings. The Tigers’ 7-0 loss to the A’s on Saturday became a reminder of the learning curve they’ll have to endure with their young pitchers from start to start, and the challenge Mize faces to be precise with his secondary pitches, and the thin margin of error he faces when he attacks in the strike zone.