Driving to Comerica Park on Saturday, Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch purposefully went the wrong way on a few roads.
“A lot of accidents and floods,” Hinch said Saturday.
Metro Detroit roads, especially the freeways, looked apocalyptic. Vehicles were sideways, turned backward and underwater. Some cars were lifeless in the middle of the roads, others were involved in crashes. Portions of the highway were engulfed by water from Friday’s downpour, forcing drivers to travel the on-ramps in the wrong direction to find a different passageway.
“That’s obviously the big talk in the clubhouse,” Hinch said. “Guys are filtering in a little later than normal, just because they’ve had a hard time getting here from the various places.”
Because of the rain, Friday’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Houston Astros was postponed until Saturday. The teams don’t meet again this season, so they were set to squeeze the final three games of a four-game series into two days — starting with Saturday’s split doubleheader at 1:10 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. Game 1, at least, went off without a hitch.
“Our early work is going to be the same,” Hinch said. “We’re not going to be on the field, obviously, but the prep stuff is like any other day. There will be a little gap in time, and then we’ll reset it and do it again tonight. The two sevens (seven-inning games) are a lot different then back in the day when it was two nines.
“Even though it’s only two innings per game, it’s drastically different in the concern over having to play two games in one day.”
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More rain is expected at 3 p.m. Saturday in Detroit, along with thunderstorms and wind gusts reaching 60 mph. That means an isolated tornado could be coming. (Sunday’s series finale is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.)
“The weather forecast can do a lot of things,” Hinch said. “Once we get out there, we’ll adapt accordingly. But yeah, it’d be nice to play uninterrupted.”
Rainout forces change
Before Friday’s postponement, the Tigers were supposed to pitch veteran right-hander Wily Peralta in the second of four games. Rookie righty Casey Mize was then scheduled to start Saturday’s contest. Once the doubleheader became inevitable, Hinch flipped the plan.
For the doubleheader: Mize started Game 1, and Peralta started Game 2.
“You’re trying to hit the forecast of the rain, and it’s a bit of a guess,” Hinch said. “Casey is a very regimented pitcher in his preparation. We know the game at 1 o’clock should be able to start on time. If we can get some innings out of Casey, which he’s — knock on wood — been pretty good at. Then we’re set up for the second game to do whatever we want with the bullpen. That’s a little easier to navigate.
“With Wily not being quite built up as much and maybe a more predictable shorter stint, it made sense to start Casey first.”
Short joins as 27th man
For Saturday’s doubleheader, the Tigers added infielder Zack Short from Triple-A Toledo as the 27th man.
Short, 26, has played five games in the majors this season, hitting .273 (3-for-11) with five walks and six strikeouts. For the Mud Hens, he has a .221 batting average (21-for-95) with six home runs, 17 RBIs, 23 walks and 31 strikeouts.
“We wanted to give Zack an opportunity to come up and play,” Hinch said. “We’re going to have him for both games. We agreed to use the 27th man for both games, so Zack will be here for both games. I’m not sure if he’ll play in Game 2 yet. Him playing shortstop will shore up our defense a little bit, give him another look and opportunity when we can.
“I’ve told him time and time again that when we have any opportunity, we want to give him an opportunity to come up. It could be for one day and, who knows, it could be for longer.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.