How Detroit Tigers’ Casey Mize showed gumption when it all went wrong early in loss to A’s

Detroit Free Press
Dana Gauruder |  Special to Detroit Free Press

What Casey Mize did after giving up a career-high three homers on Saturday may be just as portentous as what he did in his previous start.

A meltdown and a quick hook could have ensued. Instead, Mize grinded through three more innings after allowing three bombs in a 7-0 Tigers loss to Oakland.

After Aramis Garcia and Mark Canha cleared the left-center field wall on back-to-back pitches, Mize only allowed one more run, on Matt Chapman’s fielder’s choice grounder in the fifth.

Mize cruised through seven shutout innings at Houston on Monday for his first career victory in start No. 9. Career start No. 10 didn’t go as planned, but there were still signs of growth from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft.

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“It’s something that could have snowballed and turned into an even worse outing,” he said. “I was able to put up a couple of zeroes, and then, unfortunately, they were able to put up another run on a slow-developing, (potential) double-play ground ball. It was a tough play because it wasn’t hit very hard. … I honestly felt like I made a lot of quality pitches after inning two.”

Mize gave up three hard-hit balls in the first two innings, beginning with Matt Olson’s laser to right-center on an elevated fastball. He attributed his early issues to a spotty slider and not showing enough inside fastballs to keep Oakland’s hitters honest.

“Casey’s stuff looked fine,” manager AJ Hinch said. “When he leaked into the strike zone in an area where they could drive the ball, they didn’t miss it.”

Another Tigers pitcher didn’t have that problem.

The A’s didn’t hit anything off of reliever Joe Jimenez simply because the enigmatic reliever was so lost on the mound. Jimenez was relegated to the taxi squad out of spring training but got promoted on Thursday after Nomar Mazara went on the disabled list.

Jimenez walked three of the four batters he faced that night. His second outing, on Saturday, was even more disastrous as he issued four free passes while recording just two outs in the seventh inning.

He may not get another chance in the near future.

“It’s been a bad first couple of games for him back in the big leagues,” Hinch said. “The walks are a concern. I know he’s worked hard to corral his delivery but we need the ball over the plate.”

What Hinch needs even more is for his offense to awaken. After scoring 20 runs in a three-game sweep of Houston earlier in the week, the Tigers were shut out in the second and third games of their four-game series in Oakland.

A’s left-hander Cole Irvin enjoyed the best start of his young career on Saturday, limiting the Tigers to four hits in six innings.

“He looked like he had a little sneakiness and we just didn’t put at-bats together,” Hinch said.

Leadoff hitter Robbie Grossman, playing against his former team, had two of the Tigers’ five hits.

He wants to see more determination from his new teammates.

“It’s just moreso guys are learning how to play games at this level,” Grossman said of the scoreless outings. “We have a bunch of young guys. We’re going to see who really wants to be here and who wants to show up and play hard every day and be a part of this.”

The team’s most celebrated young pitcher displayed on Saturday he’s able to work through adversity.

“I love the fact that Casey stays in the competition and continued to pound the strike zone and ultimately got us through five (innings),” Hinch said.

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