Spencer Turnbull was the story of the night at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, no-hitting the Mariners, only allowing two walks in his 50th career start as the Tigers won 5-0.
The no-hitter by Turnbull was the eighth in Tigers history, and becomes the sixth pitcher to throw one for the Olde English D. It was, incidentally, the first time he’d pitched into the ninth in his major league career.
Turnbull’s fastball was sitting around 93-95 mph all evening, with some really nice fastball movement on both the 2- and 4-seamers, mixing in the slider and generally staying away from his curve and changeup until later in the game. He reached back for a little extra in the ninth, touching 96 on the last batter he faced, Mitch Haniger, who he struck out swinging on a foul tip. It was just a fantastic, dominating performance from Turnbull, who didn’t allow many hard hit balls all night.
Jeimer Candelario, not unlike the late Shock G from the Digital Underground, got things cookin’ — with a two-out solo home run against Mariners starter Justin Dunn in the first inning.
Sweet swings are made of this
Who are we to disagree?
We’ve traveled the country for a hitting spree
Candy’s lookin’ for something pic.twitter.com/G6XaMU694Z
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) May 19, 2021
Turnbull was looking to build on his solid last start against the Royals on May 13, in which he threw 68 of 99 pitches for strikes, pitched into the seventh inning, giving up a single run and striking out seven. He set down the first nine Mariners in order, and quite smartly at that.
In the third, Robbie Grossman walked (surprise, surprise), Jonathan Schoop hit a dribbler that bounced off third base, and both were wild-pitched up a base. Candelario came through again, hitting one too softly to first for the Mariners to make a play at home to get Grossman, who was off on contact; the Tigers thus went up 2-0 without getting a ball out of the infield.
Myself, I’m not usually a fan of the “break for home on contact” thing, but doing so forces the defence to make a play, and that’s certainly been AJ Hinch’s M.O. so far this year — and here it worked out.
Turnbull allowed his first of two baserunners, a leadoff walk to highly-touted rookie Jarred Kelenic, in the fourth. Kelenic stole his first career base with two outs, but was stranded there when Kyle Lewis struck out.
Dunn was acquitting himself decently on the mound as well, with very few hard-hit balls aside from the Candelario home run. Through five innings he’d struck out eight and only walked one; over the abbreviated 2020 season and in the 2021 season coming into tonight, he’d averaged over six walks per nine innings. Tigers gonna Tiger, I guess.
In the bottom of the fifth, Turnbull continued his then-Very Good Unnamed Thing by getting three groundouts.
In the bottom of the sixth he had himself another boring, nice inning: lineout, pair of groundouts.
Hot shot by Haniger to lead off the seventh, nasty in-between hop? Candy’s got it. And right about here, you started to believe Turnbull might pull this off.
A flyout and a strikeout followed. At the end of the seventh, Turnbull had thrown 84 pitches, 56 for strikes.
Candelario continued the fun by roping a double to centre with one out in the eighth. Miguel Cabrera blooped a single to right, and Candelario blew right through a Chip Hale stop sign to score, the there-in-time throw bouncing off Mariners catcher Luis Torrens, to make it 3-0.
Turnbull’s eighth: groundout to second, popout to third, strikeout of Torrens.
In the ninth, Harold Castro doubled (more on that below), and Akil Baddoo poked a single into left to score Castro. Baddoo got a great jump and stole second, and scored on a Schoop single to push the score to 5-0… and we moved on to the bottom of the ninth.
The tension was palpable. The butterflies were fluttering… and that was just me! I can’t imagine what that Tiger dugout was like at this point in the game. Probably pretty quiet, I reckon.
Turnbull started the ninth with a pitch count of 102, and he started off the ninth facing Jose Marmolejos, bouncing a pair of pitches and eventually walking him. Sam Haggerty struck out on a nasty fastball for the first out. Kelenic hit a grounder to second, and it might’ve been a double play but Schoop’s throw was wide to first and it was just a forceout. The dangerous Haniger was next; Turnbull got two quick strikes on him and finished him off with a foul-tip into Eric Haase’s mitt.
“How Many Catchers were in the Tigers’ Starting Lineup Tonight?” Count
2 (Eric Haase at catcher, Wilson Ramos at DH)
“How Many Castros were in the Tigers’ Starting Lineup Tonight?” Count
1 (Singles-Hittin’ Harold, at shortstop)
Notes and Stats
- Seriously, folks, coming into today’s game, Harold Castro was 18-for-61 with, count ‘em, zero extra-base hits. Tonight’s tally: two more singles… and then a bloop double over a drawn-in third baseman in the ninth! The last Tiger to start a season with 20 consecutive singles: Bob Swift, in 1951.
- Before Monday night’s victory, the Tigers had lost 14 of their previous 15 games in Seattle.
- If you think you’re frustrated with Joe Jimenez’s performance this year, this excellent article in The Athletic shows that he’s just as frustrated as you are, and probably more so.
- Let’s take a moment to remember one of the best ever at total deadpan humour, Charles Grodin, who passed away at age 86. His ability to keep a completely straight face at all times was enviable.