Detroit Tigers right-hander Casey Mize earned a hug from pitching coach Chris Fetter after his sixth and final inning against the Boston Red Sox. He had just escaped a bases-loaded jam, keeping the Red Sox from stealing the lead.
The bullpen spoiled Mize’s solid performance, but Jeimer Candelario gave the Tigers (9-22) a dramatic 6-5 win Wednesday at Fenway Park with a three-run home run off Red Sox reliever Garrett Whitlock in the top of the 10th inning
Despite losing 16 of its past 19 games, Detroit snapped a six-game losing streak. Closer Gregory Soto escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth. He returned for the 10th inning, allowed one run and gave way to Michael Fulmer, who started Tuesday’s game, with runners on the corners and one out.
Fulmer allowed a run charged to Soto — trimming the Tigers’ lead to 6-5 — but got the next two batters out for his first career save.
Mize fired six innings of one-run ball, giving up three hits and four walks. The 24-year-old earned three strikeouts and tossed 56 of his 95 pitches for strikes. JaCoby Jones went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Candelario put together a three-hit performance to boost his batting average to .284.
Ex-Tiger J.D. Martinez crushed a game-tying two-run homer — his 10th long ball this season — in the seventh inning off reliever Bryan Garcia, taking what could’ve been Mize’s second career win away from him.
Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Soto loaded the bases with two outs, but left fielder Robbie Grossman made a sliding catch to send the game to extra innings.
The contest Wednesday started after a 37-minute rain delay. The three-game series — and the nine-game road trip — concludes at 1:10 p.m. Thursday, and the Tigers have an opportunity to win the set. Right-hander Spencer Turnbull is starting, opposed by righty Nathan Eovaldi.
Although Mize didn’t bury his opponents, he competed well throughout his sixth start this season. His ability to battle with runners on-base helped him get through six innings with one run allowed.
He escaped trouble in the second and fourth innings. The Red Sox finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against him and stranded seven runners. The lone run against Mize came in the second inning, after he walked Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez to begin the frame.
Mize came back with three consecutive outs, but Christian Arroyo’s grounder to second base pushed home Bogaerts for an early 1-0 lead. He stranded runners on the corners in the fourth by striking out Hunter Renfroe swinging on a 3-2 fastball.
In the sixth, Mize got Renfroe to ground out with the bases loaded to complete his outing.
With his 95 pitches, Mize used 34 two-seam fastballs, 23 four-seam fastballs, 13 curveballs, 13 splitters and 12 sliders. He had six swings-and-misses — two two-seamers, three four-seamers, one curveball and two sliders — and 16 called strikes.
Mize has a 4.88 ERA, 10 walks and 21 strikeouts across 27⅔ innings in 2021.
A little luck, a lot of Jones
The Tigers put two runners on base — Candelario (single) and Miguel Cabrera (walk) — to start the fourth inning. But Niko Goodrum and Willi Castro, the next two batters, were called out on strikes. This sequence is all too familiar for the Tigers, considering their struggles stranding runners this season.
Jones drove a first-pitch cutter to left field. Franchy Cordero made an error in the outfield, allowing Candelario to score. Cabrera moved up from first base to third base on the mistake, and Jones advanced to second. With two runners in scoring position, Victor Reyes flied out to right field.
While the Tigers managed a run, they got lucky because of Cordero’s error. Goodrum’s four-pitch strikeout and Castro’s three-pitch strikeout put them in a tough situation, and Reyes couldn’t keep the inning alive.
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In the sixth inning, the Tigers didn’t need luck.
Candelario and Goodrum singled and advanced to second and third base, respectively, because Candelario tested the arm of right fielder Hunter Renfroe. He beat the throw. After Castro softly lined out for the second out, Jones punched a two-run single off the Green Monster in left field for a 3-1 lead.
The single from Jones chased Red Sox starter Martin Perez. He allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. All of his strikeouts were on called third strikes. Perez used his five pitches — cutter , changeup , sinker , four-seam fastball and curveball — to get seven swings-and-misses and 17 called strikes.
Waiting on Miggy
Cabrera continues to struggle. On Wednesday, the first baseman went 0-for-4 with one walk and one strikeout. He is now in a 0-for-27 stretch. During those at-bats, he struck out 14 times.
The 38-year-old remains one hit away (currently at 2,872) from tying the legendary Babe Ruth on the all-time hits list. He is 128 hits away from No. 3,000 and 11 home runs away from No. 500.
Cabrera is hitting .098 through 17 games this season.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.