Tigers welcome back fans as attendance continues to climb

Detroit News

Detroit — There weren’t many highlights for the Tigers on Saturday, but one stood out — and it didn’t even happen during the game.

Following the White Sox 15-2 shellacking at Comerica Park on Saturday afternoon, when not a soul would’ve faulted every Detroit player and catch for quickly bolting for the exits, Tigers infielder Willi Castro hung around on the field for quite some time signing autographs for the fans who had stuck around until the end.

The Tigers drew 15,913 fans Saturday. It was their largest crowd of a season that began with capacity capped at 8,000, and only was lifted June 1.

Last season, the Tigers played a shortened season with no fans.

“I’m very proud of our guys,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Sunday. “The makeup of this club is really good. They care, they’re very, very good guys, and I love that they can keep it in perspective and understand that welcoming the fans back to Comerica is a huge part of baseball getting back to normal here in Detroit and around the game.

“There’s a lot of banter between the players and the fans that was sorely missed over the last 12, 15 months. The fact that our players will give that time back is critical to developing the type of culture that we want here with the Tigers.”

More: Wojo: Fans are coming back, and eventually the fervor will too

The Tigers averaged a little over 9,000 fans a game for the last series against the Seattle Mariners (that was the first series since the cap was lifted by the state), then drew 14.163 on Friday against the White Sox before Saturday’s crowd marked the largest to see a Detroit sporting event in-person since early March 2020. Attendance on Sunday was 14,093.

Buck’s back

Saturday was no picnic for young Beau Burrows. The heat seemed to get the best of him on the mound, where he lost his lunch before coming out of the game. Then, following the game, he was sent down to Triple-A Toledo.

That last part was less about his performance and more about need. The Tigers needed a fresh arm Sunday, a scheduled bullpen day after Saturday turned into an impromptu bullpen day.

The Tigers called back up veteran right-hander Buck Farmer, 30, who’s strung together four decent outings at Triple-A Toledo after having a rough time following his initial demotion in mid-May.

Farmer allowed five earned runs in five outings for Toledo in May, and hasn’t allowed an earned run in four outings for Toledo in June.

“Buck runs pretty hot, he’s pretty hard on himself and can get going a little bit too fast … tries to throw a little bit too hard and throws through his slider, the changeup starts to elevate, the fastball sprays,” Hinch said. “That’s the version that got sent down.

“The last three, four outings that he’s had more success, there’s a smoother delivery there, more under control, there’s a pitcher in there and not just a thrower.

“We hadn’t lost sight of him when we sent him down.”

Farmer worked the sixth inning Sunday, allowing two runs on two hits. He hit a batter with the bases loaded, and walked a batter with the bases loaded.

The Tigers didn’t have to make immediate room on the 40-man roster to bring up Farmer, because Jeimer Candelario remains on the bereavement list.

More: Tigers’ Jonathan Schoop out with hand injury day after getting hit by pitch

Making it work

For Sunday’s bullpen day, the Tigers settled on right-hander Kyle Funkhouser to get the “start.” Given the developments of Saturday, when the Tigers used seven pitchers (five actual pitchers and two position players), they could’ve started Matthew Boyd on regular rest Sunday, and Boyd offered to go. But that wasn’t seriously considered, Hinch said.

“Boyd was willing to do it, he started asking around, it was more player-driven than us,” Hinch said. “Once you make a decision and have a plan, the entire preparation prior to the next start has begun. It changed where Matt Boyd’s bullpen was, it changed where Casey Mize‘s bullpen day was.

“Once we put a plan in place and got these guys physically mapped out on a schedule, I don’t think it’s good health-wise or mentally preparation wise to alter that.”

Boyd will start Monday’s series opener at Kansas City on an extra day of rest, followed by Mize and then Tarik Skubal.

Around the horn

►The Tigers are getting good work from catchers Jake Rogers and Eric Haase, and now two injured catchers are starting to work their way back.

Grayson Greiner (left hamstring strain) was set to begin an injury-rehab stint with Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, and Wilson Ramos (lumbar spine strain) began an injury-rehab stint with Single-A Lakeland on Saturday, going 0-for-4 with an RBI.

►With Rogers and Harold Castro pitching Saturday, it marked the first time the Tigers have used two position players to pitch in the same game since Sept. 2, 1918, when Bobby Veach and Ty Cobb each pitched two innings. Veach got the save.

Rogers pitched the eighth Saturday, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk (he swore after the walk, and later apologized to his mom), and Castro was perfect in the ninth.

►Tigers top prospect Spencer Torkelson, top pick in last year’s Major League Baseball Draft, had another big game for Single-A West Michigan on Saturday, with two doubles and three RBIs. He now has 27 RBIs in 30 games.

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Tigers at Royals

Series: Three games, Monday-Wednesday, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

First pitch: 8:10 Monday-Tuesday, 2:10 Wednesday

TV/radio: All three games on Bally Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

Series probables: Monday — LHP Matthew Boyd (3-6, 3.56) vs. RHP Brad Keller (6-5, 5.75; Tuesday — RHP Casey Mize (3-4, 3.44) vs. LHP Mike Minor (5-3, 4.50); Wednesday — LHP Tarik Skubal (3-7, 4.35) vs. RHP Brady Singer (3-5, 4.85)

SCOUTING REPORT

Boyd, Tigers: He’s coming off a good start against the Seattle Mariners, which was preceded by four rocky starts (0-3, 7.84 ERA).

Keller, Royals: He faced the Tigers in late April and picked up a win, allowing two runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out four.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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