Tigers 1, Twins 0 (7 innings): Grossman’s early blast holds up

Bless You Boys

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

With the All-Star break, plus Mother Nature dumping a bunch of rain on Friday, the Tigers and Twins eventually got to play a game on a mostly sunny Saturday afternoon. A first-inning leadoff solo home run from Robbie Grossman was the only run in the game, as the Tigers won the first game of the doubleheader, 1-0.

Charlie Barnes made his major-league debut for the Twins. His season at AAA St. Paul has been solid so far; he’d made 11 starts with a 3.88 ERA and WHIP of 1.26. He would acquit himself well today, as you will see.

José Ureña started for Detroit, and… well, you know what kind of up-and-mostly-down year he’s had so far. His last start was July 6 against Texas, which ended in a 10-5 loss. Ureña’s final line in that game: 4 23 innings, 5 runs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 2 turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

As mentioned, Grossman greeted Barnes warmly to the big leagues by planting a 2-2 slider into the bullpen for a solo home run leading off the bottom of the first.

Ureña got into a bit of trouble in the second, putting runners on second and third with two out; Ben Rortvedt struck out to end the threat. But, his first inning was pretty uneventful, and a runner that got on via a Jonathan Schoop error in the third was erased on a double play. He threw 42 pitches in three innings, including some nasty sliders, one of which struck out the pesky Nelson Cruz. Could this be a new-and-improved José Ureña we’re seeing?

Meanwhile, after the Grossman home run and the ensuing Schoop single in the first, Barnes settled in quite nicely, featuring a solid changeup.

Ureña’s day was done after three innings, due to some right groin tightness (insert jokes here). Daniel Norris came on in the fourth. Norris got through the heart of the Twins’ order, 1-2-3, and then in the fifth he repeated the trick. Six up, six down. If he can do this once in a while out of the bullpen, that would be a huge benefit to the team.

Jake “The Sarge” Rogers doubled to right to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and Derek Hill followed with a four-pitch walk. Grossman hit a soft liner to second; Jorge Polanco let it drop, threw to second to force out Hill, and Rogers got caught in a rundown between second and third for an unusual 6-4-5 double play.

Barnes’ very fine debut was done, and none other than Beau Burrows took over for him.

Baseball’s a funny game.

Schoop singled to centre which pushed Grossman to third, but an Eric Haase popout to short ended things, keeping the score at 1-0.

Kyle Funkhouser took over for Norris in the sixth, and you had to wonder, with a bullpen-day game later on in game two, (a.) how far Funkhouser would go, and (b.) would AJ Hinch possibly consider using Funkhouser for both games? The Funky One made short work of the Twins in the sixth, striking out the side, including the pesky Luis Arraez and the dangerous Josh Donaldson. (Oh, and, Andrelton Simmons, too.)

Gregory Soto came on for the save in the seventh, so I guess it’s possible that if Hinch finds himself in a tough spot in the second game, he might be able to go to Funkhouser again. We’ll see about that later, but as for game one, Soto got a foul pop-out and a pair of groundouts to seal the victory.

Will-Come Back

(I’ll see myself out, thanks.)

Notes and Observations

  • In José Ureña’s first 60 innings pitched this year, he gave up 3 home runs. In his next 17, he gave up 9. Ouch.
  • Tiger pitchers retired the last 13 Twins in a row.
  • Derek Hill was back with the Tigers for the first time since June 30. Isaac Paredes was also called up from Toledo, for his first appearance with the Tigers since June 26. Both started the afternoon game.
  • As noted previously, the Twins contain names familiar with science nerds, in Kepler and Coulomb(e). Today’s starter, Charlie Barnes, has a name similar to a unit used in nuclear physics: the “barn,” which is an area equal to 10⁻²⁸ m². It’s a tiny area, about equal to the cross-sectional area of a uranium nucleus. As with a lot of things in nuclear and quantum physics, the name is a bit of a lark: it plays on the old saying, “couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.” Barns are big, so the unit “barn” is small. Kinda like nicknaming a 6’8” guy “Tiny.”
  • On this day 101 years ago, physicist Gordon Gould was born. I admit I didn’t know his name offhand either, but I really should have: he invented the frickin’ laser.

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