Detroit — The Detroit Tigers are looking to take a weekend series from the Chicago White Sox in Sunday’s finale, and it’s a bittersweet feeling that Chicago’s ace is standing in the way.
The Tigers have handed Lucas Giolito an 0-2 record in three starts this season, their 10 runs on the right-hander more than any other team in the majors.
Manager AJ Hinch said Sunday that the key to hitting Giolito is to humble yourself at the plate.
“Don’t be too proud to take your single or take your walk, or take whatever he gives you,” Hinch said. “If you can get him into predictable counts, you can drive a little bit, and I think it’s getting to leverage counts on the other side, on the offensive side, that help you.”
Detroit has hit seven home runs off Giolito this season. While Saturday’s matchup against White Sox starter Dallas Kuechel was more of a “cat-and-mouse” game below the zone, Hinch said, the Tigers have had success against Giolito up in the zone.
“We’ve been able to hit the ball out of the ballpark against him because we’ve established where our high is,” Hinch said. “He throws the ball up in the zone on purpose, and when he throws that changeup off of that, he can be really effective when he’s locked in.
“And if you don’t know where your strike zone box starts and ends, it can be really tough against you.”
Hinch warned against his team getting impatient at the plate, saying that forcing Giolito into playing the Tigers’ game is the only way of humanizing him.
“If he’s not going to throw strikes consistently at the top of the zone, then we’ve got to lay off that pitch,” Hinch said. “Once you bring it down, most pitchers — not just Giolito — are mortal, and you can do some damage.”
Not so fast, my friend
Hinch went back on his statement that he’d likely give Miguel Cabrera a day off Sunday, starting him at DH and hitting fourth.
Cabrera’s start on Sunday will be his sixth consecutive. Daz Cameron entered last night’s game for Cabrera as a pinch-runner in the seventh, making the decision to play him again just a bit easier.
“I think the DH, being on his feet only so much has helped him,” Hinch said. “When I took him out for the pinch-runner to be proactive on this stuff, we had a couple innings to talk about where he was physically.
“I want as many right-handed hitters in the lineup against Giolito as I can get, hopefully to combat some of that changeup usage that he does.”
Entering Sunday, Cabrera is slashing .326/.357/.478 in 24 games since the month of June started with three home runs, five doubles and 14 RBIs.
Spencer Turnbull is starting to show reasons to be optimistic about his impending return from a forearm injury, suffered at the beginning of June.
Hinch said that the right-handed starter, who is not expected back until after the All-Star break, threw a 38-pitch bullpen session in Lakeland on Saturday and “all things checked out great.”
The next step for Turnbull, Hinch said, is live batting practice.
On deck: Rangers
► Series: Three games at Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas
► First pitch: Monday — 8:05 p.m.; Tuesday — 8:05 p.m..; Wednesday — 2:05 p.m.
► TV/radio: All three games on BSD/97.1
► Probables: Monday — RHP Wily Peralta (1-1, 3.21) vs. LHP Kolby Allard (2-4, 3.46); Tuesday — RHP Jose Urena (2-8, 6.22) vs. RHP Dane Dunning (3-6, 4.38); Wednesday — RHP Casey Mize (5-5, 3.55) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (6-0, 1.98)
► Allard, Rangers: The 23-year-old Allard took slight damage in his last two outings, but with no run support, had two losses to show for it. He’s posted two quality starts in his past three appearances heading into Monday’s series-opener with the Tigers.
► Peralta, Tigers: Peralta earned his first win of the season in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against Cleveland, giving up just one run on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks. He’ll try to keep up the swinging strikes after picking up 13 in 80 pitches in his last outing.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.