After a bruising weekend series in Detroit against the Central Division-leading White Sox, the Tigers hit the road for the first of a three-game series in Kansas City. The Tigers won 10-3, but their fortunes didn’t exactly turn around in every way, as Matthew Boyd was forced to exit early with what was called later in the game as “left arm discomfort.” Later, Alex Lange also left with “right shoulder discomfort.” What’s going on here?! (Plenty of speculation on that below.)
Boyd’s last outing was a really nice performance against the Mariners in which he gave up six hits over six innings. Early in the game, Boyd’s extra day of rest perhaps resulted in a couple of extra ticks on his fastball, touching 95 mph, and the slider was looking good as well. Was this extra rest his ultimate undoing, though? We will see.
Toeing the slab for the Royals was Brad Keller, whose previous outing wasn’t so great: 5 1⁄3 innings, eight hits, five runs, four walks. Overall, Keller’s season has been… well, his very first pitch today hit Robbie Grossman, and that’s pretty much echoes the rest of his 2021 season.
Hittin’ Harold Castro followed that with a single that pushed Grossman over to third. Kelvin Gutierrez, playing third for the Royals, let a sharp, would-be double-play grounder right through the ol’ five-hole (to borrow a hockey term) to let Grossman score. Miguel Cabrera then ended a vintage Miggy At-Bat™ with an RBI single to centre.
Nomar Mazara kept the hit parade coming, loading the bases with a single of his own for Niko Goodrum. Goodrum’s bat then “died a hero” on his own single, driving in two. When the dust settled the Tigers were ahead 4-0 and eight Detroiters had batted.
In the bottom of the third, old nemeses Whit Merrifield and Carlos Santana hit back-to-back singles. As Santana hit his single, Boyd backed up third base (as you should; remember that, you kids out there), and all looked fine to the casual observer. Boyd then climbed onto the mound, stepped back off it, and summoned AJ Hinch and trainer Doug Teter to the mound.
Well, shoot. Third straight “bullpen day,” so it would appear. Hey, what’s Anibal Sanchez doing these days? Gotta get Sanchie goin’. (BYB old-timers will surely recognize that one.) Seriously though, the situation is rather dire. Send help.
On came Joe Jimenez with runners at the corners and one out, and you can admit it, we were all looking in the corner of the living room for that white flag to wave, but darn it, Jimenez struck out Salvador Perez and got Soler to pop out to short.
In the fourth, Akil Baddoo beat out an infield single to short, and Willi Castro crushed a changeup to right.
Jake “The Sarge” Rogers approves.
Jason Foley took over for Jimenez in the fourth; with two outs, Edward Olivares chopped a hit off home plate and beat out the throw for an infield single. Hanser Alberto doubled-in Olivares to get the Royals on the board.
A Cabrera single to lead off the fifth, followed by an Eric Haase double and a Nomar Mazara sacrifice fly, put the Tiger lead back up to six. By this point, everyone in the starting lineup had either gotten a hit or scored a run, or both. Nice team effort, fellas.
Alex Lange started the fifth and walked Merrifield, who eventually scored on a Perez single. After a Soler double, the Hinch/Teter duo made another trip out to the mound, and out came Lange; on the replay Lange threw a 97 mph pitch, then let his right arm dangle down, clearly already in pain. Guido Knudson — now there’s a deep cut — wants everyone to know he’s available to pitch.
On came the ubiquitous Kyle Funkhouser, a day after starting yesterday’s Bullpen Day and going 2 2⁄3 innings in that. A walk loaded the bases with one out, then Gutierrez struck out and Olivares grounded-out to end the inning. Nice job, Funk.
Ervin Santana — remember him? — started the sixth for the Royals. Coming into tonight Santana’s actually had a solid year so far: 12 appearances (two starts), 3.55 ERA in 25 1⁄3 innings. Sure, his FIP is almost 5, but the Royals might have a useful bullpen arm there.
Buck Farmer drew the next short straw in the bullpen, which meant he’d be starting the sixth. Michael A. Taylor singled on a bloop to right, then Merrifield doubled on an odd play in which a ball deflected off one of the Castro’s gloves — frankly, I’m not sure which one, it was that confusing — and by the time the dust settled, he was standing on second base and Taylor was on third. Perez somehow walked to load the bases, that’d be the end of Farmer’s day.
Jose Cisnero came on with the bases loaded and two outs, and he somehow walked Soler to make it 7-3. (Seriously, folks, neither Perez nor Soler really walk that much.) Mercifully, Hunter Dozier popped out to end the threat. Cisnero then pitched the seventh, surrendering a double but otherwise nothing else of note.
Santana had retired the first eight batters he’d faced, and then Goodrum put a charge into one.
Michael Fulmer, just back from the Injured List, started the eighth. Merrifield singled, but later was erased on an inning-ending double play.
Grossman launched his ninth home run of the year to right in the ninth; Jonathan Schoop doubled and came around to score on a Cabrera single to round out the scoring.
Daniel Norris pitched the ninth for the Tigers. He gave up a single, and made a weird bit of history. Jason Beck tweeted this out as Fulmer took the mound, but with Norris pitching the ninth, a record was set.
The most pitchers the Tigers have used to win a nine-inning game is eight, according to @baseball_ref.
Michael Fulmer is Detroit’s eighth pitcher tonight. He’s on to pitch the eighth inning with an 8-3 lead.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 15, 2021
For Your Consideration
Injuries seem to be everywhere in the Major Leagues these days. However, as we’ve been discussing at BYB this evening…
- Most Major League teams have played around 65 games this year. That’s right about the same number of games that teams played all last season. Are we seeing pitchers hit the wall?
- MLB Brass has said they’re going to be taking the sticky-stuff situation more seriously in recent days; ESPN’s sources say a memo is coming on Tuesday. Are pitchers gripping the ball differently as they ditch the various goops and conconctions they’ve been using, causing all this “discomfort?” Are we going to see a host of top pitchers suddenly struggle with their stuff and/or command? The potential for chaos seems rather high at the moment.
Just puttin’ it out there, folks.
Boyd Shouldn’t Throw… Ninety-Five?
Apologies to Mr. Hagar.
So Baseball Savant had Matthew Boyd’s velocity up fairly significantly tonight. Maybe it’s because he was only 40 pitches in, but I have kind of a bad feeling about this. pic.twitter.com/56OTbEf08S
— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) June 15, 2021
Workin’ on our Roster Moves
Apologies to Mr. Seger.
Prior to tonight’s game at Kansas City, the Tigers have made the following roster moves:
*Optioned INF Isaac Paredes to Triple A Toledo
*Reinstated RHP Michael Fulmer from the injured list
— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) June 14, 2021
We’ll see if the Boyd and Lange injuries necessitate more moves.
In Royals roster news, Andrew Benintendi — who had shredded Tiger pitching so far this year — made a throw in yesterday’s game against Oakland, felt a little pinch, didn’t have to make another throw in the game, and went to bed as normal last night. He felt a lot worse this morning, though, got it checked out, and what do you know, he’d cracked a rib somehow. Mondays, am I right?!
Notes and Potpourri
- Tiger shortstops so far this season are at —13 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). “Not great, Bob!”
- To the best of the BYB Research Department’s knowledge, the Royals’ Edward Olivares is no relation to former Cardinal and (briefly) Tiger, Omar Olivares.
- On this date in 1822, Charles Babbage’s paper talking about a prototype of a mechanical calculator that he’d built, with plenty of gears and cranks, was published. You are now reading this article on an umpteenth-generation “difference engine,” if you track all of Babbage’s machine’s descendants down through the years. Fun!