Miller Park American Family Field dome was open, the weather was pleasant, and the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers were sufficiently recovered from their respective Memorial Day barbecue cookouts.
Well, the batters had recovered, but the pitchers must have still been a little woozy from some bad potato salad, as this game turned out to be a walk- and homer-filled affair with the Tigers winning 10-7.
The starting pitcher matchup, such as it was, featured Eric Lauer for Milwaukee and Matthew Boyd for Detroit. This was Lauer’s fourth start of the year, along with two relief appearances, and his outings have been pretty mixed. Lauer’s last outing was a solid six-inning start against the Padres.
Boyd’s last three outings have been, as the French would say, “terrible” (spelled the same, pronounced differently). While Boyd had kept the home runs largely at bay this year coming into this game, he’d given up 4, 5 and 4 earned runs in those preceding three starts. Ultimately he’d be charged with five runs again tonight, too.
So, what did Kolten Wong do as he led off the bottom of the first? You guessed it, solo dinger. As the French would say, “le sigh.”
Dearborn’s own Eric Haase, on an 0-2 pitch, returned the favour by leading off the top of the second with a solo leadoff dinger of his own, his first of the night.
Willi Castro then singled, and both Robbie Grossman and Jeimer Candelario walked to load the bases with two out for Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera clubbed a double to the right-centerfield gap to clear the bases and put the Tigers up 4-1. Turns out this double was rather historic:
.@MiguelCabrera‘s second inning double had a few milestone implications.
Tied Robin Yount for the 21st on the MLB all-time doubles leaderboard (583).
Became the eighth player in @Tigers franchise history to have 400 doubles wearing the Olde English ‘D’.
— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) June 2, 2021
Jonathan Schoop continued the onslaught with his first home run of the night to make it 6-1 as the Tigers batted around.
Unfortunately, the home run parade carried on to the bottom of the second, with the Brewers’ Tyrone Taylor hitting a solo shot of his own, his first of the night. That was the second home run Boyd gave up in the game, and I really hope tonight was just a fluke; he led the American League in home runs given up in both 2019 and 2020. Let’s keep an eye on that.
If you got some severe déjà-vu in the third, it’s because Haase hit another leadoff home run on the third, this one to straightaway center field. (A fun stat on this is below in the bullet-points.) A Victor Reyes bloop single to left finally chased Lauer for Trevor Richards. Later in the inning, even though Boyd’s sacrifice bunt to get Reyes to second didn’t ultimately make any difference, it’s nice to see that Boyd, unlike Rony Garcia yesterday, seems to know which end of the bat one should hold.
Alas, Boyd walked pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson to start the third, and Wong hit his second home run of the evening to make it 7-4; a pitchers’ duel, this wasn’t. Boyd’s pitches were all over the place, and the bullpen began stirring, but he did manage to make it out of the inning without any further damage.
Adrian Houser started the fourth for Milwaukee, making his first relief appearance after ten starts. Niko Goodrum worked a 10-pitch at-bat for a single, pushing Schoop to third, who reached on a forceout. Goodrum promptly stole second standing up, and Haase walked on eight pitches to load the bases… but Reyes grounded out to end the threat.
Boyd earned an eight-pitch walk in the fifth. Here’s an unpopular opinion, which you probably don’t share, but I’ll say it anyway: I don’t like the DH, and I wouldn’t be sad if it went away. Part of the élégance of baseball lies in its symmetry, and having nine guys in the field all take their turn at bat just sits right in my mind. Alas, this will probably be the last year in which pitchers will routinely hit, which means you’ll win this argument. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Also, Boyd did this, which is nice too.
In the fifth, Christian Yelich singled on a sloppy play in the field involving Schoop and Boyd with two outs, and Avisail Garcia followed with a hit to centre on which Goodrum took a circuitous route, scoring Yelich and chasing Boyd, who yielded to Joe Jimenez, who hit Omar Narvaez on an 0-2 count. Mercifully, Jimenez struck out Taylor to end the inning, which was as sloppy as a Georgia highway after a snowstorm.
Schoop decided to punish a fastball in the sixth. Sacrebleu!
At that point all three of Schoop, Haase and Wong had hit two home runs each.
Cabrera was taken out of the game later on:
Miguel Cabrera was removed from tonight’s game as a precautionary measure, due to left groin tightness.
— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) June 2, 2021
Derek Holland handled the sixth, and got a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a lineout. Would you look at that — his ERA is now in the single-digits! I also thought there might be a chance Holland would bat in the bottom of the inning, but AJ Hinch, disappointingly, had already used a double-switch to thwart that possibility. Holland’s on the books as being a switch-hitter, too! That’s right, sports fans, I’m quite fascinated with pitchers hitting, and always have been.
While he didn’t get to hit, Holland then blasted through a second inning of relief. Since May 1, and especially since his brief visit to Toledo in May, he’s been nearly lights-out. Something in the water down there? Or, perhaps some Tony Packo’s hot dogs were all he and Jimenez needed to right their respective ships?
Tyler Alexander, who started and pitched an inning on Monday, took over to start the eighth. Taylor joined the two-homer club to make it 8-6… but Alexander struck out three in the inning, and no, he did not “strike out the side.” Sheesh.
Sidearmer Eric Yardley took over in the ninth, and Haase’s leadoff at-bat contained a bunch of very, very wild pitches:
Pitch #6 was about three feet behind Haase, and pitch #7, ball four, nearly hit him; I imagine Haase was pretty happy to get out of there. Pinch-hitter Akil Baddoo’s following at-bat went about the same, so the Tigers had two runners on to start the ninth. Castro’s sacrifice fly and Mazara’s double made it 10-6, marking the first double-digit run output by the Tigers this season.
Gregory Soto started the ninth and promptly coughed up a home run to Luis Arias, the ninth of the game, to make it 10-7. Soto, like Yardley, similarly forgot where the strike zone was, the bullpen got busy, and Hinch — like the rest of us — just wanted this godforsaken game to end already. Chris Fetter went to the mound, calmed Soto down, demanded a flurry of sliders, and voila! We all finally got our wish with a pair of strikeouts of Adames and Christian Yelich. Merci, Monsieur Soto.
The bullpen is going to need the off-day to recover tomorrow, that’s for sure. The Tigers head to Chicago to take on the White Sox in a four-game series, starting on Thursday night.
In Case You Missed It
Oh, hey, look at that, the Tiger rotation was pretty solid in May.
I wonder what it would’ve been if Boyd had been Porcello’d-out.
Stats and Such
- I’ve had “Secret Stadium Sauce” on a hot dog in Milwaukee before. To me, it tasted like a mix of mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, and a pinch of sand. Hard pass.
- Since 1961, Eric Haase was the third Tiger to lead off two consecutive innings with home runs. The other two Tigers to turn the trick: Willie Horton and Chad Curtis.
- The Tigers finished the first two months with a 22-32 record, good for a .407 winning percentage. If that’s extended out to a full season, that projects to a 66-96 record. I think in my pre-season predictions I had the Tigers winning 68 games.
- Take a moment today to remember Adrian, Michigan’s own Mike Marshall, the consummate “fireman” relief pitcher, who passed away today. His 1974 stats are just bananas: 106 games, 208 1⁄3 innings — all in relief! — with 21 saves and a 14-12 win-loss record, and at one point in the season he appeared in 13 straight games. He won the Cy Young award and finished third in MVP voting. He earned his Ph.D. in kinesiology from Michigan State in 1978, and developed many theories about pitching motions which might seem a little, shall we say, unconventional.