Mize goes long in dominating Mariners

Detroit Tigers

The sight of Casey Mize at the railing of the Tigers dugout, less than pleased with an eighth-inning hook from his start Monday in Seattle, and manager A.J. Hinch explaining the move, brought back memories of Justin Verlander, who once went to the other steps of the dugout to avoid his manager Jim Leyland.

The 7 2/3 innings Mize delivered before his exit brought back some comparisons to Verlander as well.

While Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic was the headline rookie at T-Mobile Park, Mize stole the show. He also put the Tigers on his right arm, supported by Eric Haase’s two home runs, for a 4-1 win to begin a three-game series.

Not until Tom Murphy’s leadoff home run in the eighth, his fourth homer in as many games against the Tigers in his career, did Mize allow a run. He allowed a Kelenic infield single to begin the game and a José Marmolejos ground-ball single in the second, but ended both innings with double plays. Seattle went hitless against him for the next five innings and hit just three balls out of the infield in that span.

Mize didn’t light up radar guns like Verlander as a rookie, but he got stronger and more effective as the game went on, transitioning from a solid slider to a buckling curveball while working up and down with his fastball. He needed just seven pitches to retire the top of the Mariners lineup in order in the sixth, followed by a nine-pitch seventh through the middle of the order.

Once Murphy’s homer drew the Mariners within 3-1, Mize struck out his next two batters, fanning Sam Haggerty on a curveball before freezing Donovan Walton on a fastball. Out came Hinch to bring in Gregory Soto for a lefty-lefty matchup against Kelenic, a development that left Mize clearly less than pleased.

Mize finished with a career-long 7 2/3 innings of three-hit ball, walking three and striking out seven. After Soto retired Kelenic, Michael Fulmer — the last Tigers rookie starter to enjoy this kind of stretch — retired the Mariners in the ninth for his third save.

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