Mize starts strong, but Tigers drop Game 1

Detroit Tigers

For the second time in eight months, Casey Mize was in a pitching duel on the south side of Chicago. This time, he shut down the White Sox for four innings, out-pitching White Sox counterpart Carlos Rodón before two walks and two singles fueled a three-run fifth in a 3-1 Tigers loss in Game 1 of a Thursday doubleheader.

On the same mound where Mize took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning opposite Lucas Giolito last September, the young right-hander looked in form Thursday, allowing only a José Abreu walk and Zack Collins single through four innings. He needed just 48 pitches to get that far, including eight swings and misses using a pitching repertoire he mixed confidently. He racked up three consecutive strikeouts from the third inning into the fourth on different pitches, fanning Leury García on a slider, Tim Anderson checking at a high fastball and Adam Eaton on a curveball.

Mize needed to put up zeroes to protect the slim lead Detroit’s offense built off Rodón, whose three perfect innings brought memories of the no-hitter he threw two weeks ago. The Tigers racked up seven strikeouts and two infield outs the first time through the order against the left-hander. Robbie Grossman singled leading off the fourth, stole second and scored when Jonathan Schoop laced a ground ball inside the third-base line for a two-out RBI double, a much-needed bit of small-ball offense from a team that has struggled with contact.

Mize took the mound for the fifth with a one-run lead, but paid for a 1-2 fastball over the plate to Jake Lamb, whose leadoff single seemingly got Mize out of rhythm. Eight of his next nine pitches missed the strike zone, and the exception barely caught the top edge. The back-to-back walks loaded the bases with nobody out.

After a mound meeting with pitching coach Chris Fetter, Mize put Billy Hamilton in an 0-2 hole. He didn’t get the strikeout, but Hamilton’s grounder down the first-base line looked like a potential double play. First baseman Miguel Cabrera thought the same and rushed a grab in hopes of an out at the plate, bobbling the ball. Cabrera still retired Hamilton sliding into first, but Lamb scored to tie it.

Mize’s next pitch to Garcia rendered the play moot. Garcia lined a first-pitch splitter back up the middle to score two.

Mize finished the inning and overcame a Yoán Moncada double for a clean sixth, settling for an abbreviated complete game. But Rodón and closer Liam Hendriks shut down Detroit the rest of the way.

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