Defensive mistakes, late runs sting Detroit Tigers in 8-2 loss to Chicago White Sox

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers starter Casey Mize did not return to the mound for the fourth inning.

The 24-year-old rookie wasn’t injured, and he wasn’t chased by the American League Central-leading Chicago White Sox. Rather, Mize’s start Friday marked the first outing of his innings restrictions — given to many young pitchers league-wide in an effort to protect their arms, considering the workload increase from 60 games in 2020 to a 162-game campaign in 2021.

The Tigers (36-46) lost, 8-2, in the three-game series opener at Comerica Park. Finishing 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and striking out 13 times overall, Detroit has dropped 18 of its past 20 games to Chicago, dating to last season.

The White Sox tacked on five runs in the ninth inning.

“We missed a lot of opportunities,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “But this team, we’re not going to hang our head. We’ve played bad games before and bounced back just fine. And I’m not considering this a bad game. We played better than the score indicated, but it’s a loss nonetheless.”

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The Tigers plan to limit Mize to two or three innings over his next couple of starts, before ramping him up again after the All-Star break. By following this plan, the organization thinks Mize has a better chance at pitching into September without getting shut down for the year.

“It’s frustrating from a competitive standpoint,” Mize said. “I really take pride in getting as many outs as possible, going deep into the game and allowing as few runs as possible. Those are the two most important things a pitcher can do. It’s frustrating when you can’t get as many outs as possible, but this is just a unique situation. I’m on board with what we’re doing.”

After the All-Star break, the Tigers will likely put innings restrictions on fellow rookie Tarik Skubal. The team doesn’t want to shorten Mize’s and Skubal’s starts at the same time.

In the seventh inning, the White Sox extended their lead to 3-1 with a sacrifice fly from Danny Mendick. Mendick’s flyout , though, should have been the third out. That’s because Jake Burger’s one-out pop fly to center field was lost in the lights by Daz Cameron, resulting in a double to put runners at second and third.

And the White Sox made sure to capitalize.

Mize’s shortened start

Through three innings, Mize allowed two runs on four hits and one walk. He struck out four batters, including striking out 2020 AL MVP Jose Abreu looking in the first and third innings — both with two-seam fastballs.

The White Sox gave their starter, Lance Lynn, run support in the first frame. Tim Anderson’s leadoff infield single made the difference, as Mize retired the next two batters. He tapped a slow roller, and despite a nifty bare-handed snag, third baseman Jeimer Candelario couldn’t throw out the speedy Anderson.

With two outs, Yasmani Grandal shot a single to right field for a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Brian Goodwin, tripled to the left-center field gap. On the play, center fielder Cameron and left fielder Akil Baddoo misplayed the ball, which rolled to the warning track and allowed Grandal to score easily from first base for a 2-0 advantage.

“I felt better in the second and third innings,” Mize said. “It’s just as simple as getting ahead in the counts. Falling behind too much in the first led to some fastball counts. It’s just tough to pitch in those counts, so they were able to put some good swings on pitches.”

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Mize needed 27 pitches in the first inning but cruised through his final two frames. A nine-pitch second inning included a double play and swinging strikeout of Mendick on three pitches, capped off with a 94 mph four-seam fastball.

He worked around a walk in a 20-pitch third, striking out Abreu and Grandal (knuckle curve, swinging) to complete his outing. Mize ended with seven swings and misses and 13 called strikes. He threw 34 of 56 pitches for strikes.

“We looked at his couple starts before the All-Star break as a critical time for us to back off him a little bit,” Hinch said. “He’ll have the All-Star break, probably will be pretty careful coming out of the All-Star break. Hopefully, that will allow him to ramp back up and pitch a complete season.”

Through 16 starts, Mize has a 3.55 ERA, 27 walks and 75 strikeouts over 91⅓ innings. He pitched 28⅓ innings — across seven starts — in 2020 after getting called up in August for his MLB debut.

Lynn allows one run

Just as he did earlier this season, Lynn controlled the Tigers.

The lone run against Lynn came in the fifth inning, when Jonathan Schoop’s 365-foot sacrifice fly to left field scored Jake Rogers. Consecutive one-out singles from Rogers and Baddoo set the table for Schoop’s RBI.

The Tigers had a chance to extend the lead, but Miguel Cabrera bounced out to third base. He stranded runners on first and second base, and Lynn squeezed out of the jam with only one run allowed. He then pitched a scoreless sixth inning, thanks to left fielder Andrew Vaughn’s diving catch — with Candelario on second base — to rob Cameron of extra bases.

“We didn’t come up with the big hit at the right time,” Hinch said. “We had guys on base in a lot of his innings. We had him under pressure in a lot of his innings. … We just never quite got the knockout punch for him. We could have probably got him out of the game early if we had won those battles.”

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Lynn conceded one run on four hits and five walks. He struck out nine and threw 117 pitches.

“We made him work,” Hinch said, “but that wasn’t enough.”

In the first inning, the Tigers stranded runners at second and third base on Cabrera’s pop out to second base and Candelario’s swinging strikeout. Lynn rattled off eight outs in a row before Robbie Grossman’s fourth-inning single started a scoring opportunity.

Once again, the 34-year-old righty escaped. With runners on first and second, Cameron grounded out to advance Grossman and Candelario into scoring position. But Harold Castro struck out swinging on three pitches to end the fourth.

The last time Lynn pitched against the Tigers was June 3, when he registered six innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Lynn has a 2.02 ERA over 15 starts in 2021. 

Bullpen takes over

With Mize leaving early, Hinch turned to lefty Tyler Alexander for the fourth inning.

Alexander pitched the Tigers through the fourth and one out into fifth inning. He didn’t allow a hit, walk or run, but one batter reached because of Schoop’s catching error at first base on a poor throw from Castro at shortstop.

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Righty Erasmo Ramirez made his season debut, shoving 2⅔ innings. He allowed one run — Cameron’s mistake in center field — on two hits. He didn’t issue a walk and threw 19 of 23 pitches for strikes. Ramirez was reinstated from the 10-day injured list before Friday’s contest. 

Daniel Norris pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Bryan Garcia allowed a solo home run to Vaughn and an RBI single to Mendick in the ninth. He didn’t record an out against his first four batters, so Hinch went to Buck Farmer.

Farmer then allowed a three-run blast to Gavin Sheets for an 8-1 White Sox lead. Nomar Mazara had a two-out pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tigers their second run.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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