Detroit – Casey Mize came off the mound after four strong innings Monday and the last person he wanted to see was his manager.
He entered the dugout on the opposite end from where AJ Hinch was perched. He kept his back to Hinch as long as he could but he knew he couldn’t avoid him. Hinch walked over, tapped him on the shoulder, shook his hand and told him his night was over.
Doing the right thing stinks sometimes. Mize was brilliant in his four innings. He allowed just one single and struck out two. He raced through 13 hitters in 54 pitches and left with a 2-0 lead.
Too bad he missed out on all the fireworks. Miguel Cabrera had a five-RBI night and rookie Akil Baddoo drove in four as the Tigers put a 14-0 hurt on the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park.
It was their fourth straight win and it came at the expense of Rangers ace Kyle Gibson, who had a small group of big-league scouts watching him ahead of the trade deadline. The All-Star right-hander now has two losses, both administered by the Tigers within the span of two weeks. Eight of the runs were charged to Gibson.
Baddoo got it started with a two-run home run to right field in the third inning. They blew the game open with 11 runs over the fifth and sixth innings.
The four-run fifth was highlighted by Cabrera’s three-run double. It was his 2,930th career hit and very nearly his first triple since May 17, 2016.
The official ruling was Cabrera advanced to third on the throw home.
Cabrera added a two-run single in the sixth — hit No. 2,931, passing Rogers Hornsby on the all-time hits list.
The sixth inning was bananas. The first nine hitters reached, six singles and three walks — total seven runs.
Baddoo continues to be a marvel, as well. He had a homer, single and a walk, and in his last 13 games he’s 17 for 55 (.309). His walk helped set the table for Cabrera in the fifth. He fell behind 0-2, looking bad on back-to-back change-ups. But he stayed in the at-bat, took a couple close pitches and worked a walk.
He came to bat with the bases loaded in the sixth and again fell into a two-strike count. This time against lefty reliever Brett Martin, he poked a two-run single up the middle.
With Mize, the Tigers have limited his innings the last three straight starts, hoping to ration innings so he can stay in the rotation through the end of the season and not have to be fully shut down.
After throwing just 28 innings in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Mize is already at 99 1/3 innings after Monday.
“Our handling of our young pitching is going to be done with what we think is in the best interest of every pitcher,” Hinch said. “It doesn’t make sense to me to respond to anything else that’s going on. We’re trying to develop a player plan for very important players this year and into the future.
“We’re going to reach some uncharted waters for the guys who haven’t pitched a full season.”
Hinch said the governor will gradually start coming off Mize, possibly beginning with his next start — gradually building back up to where the only restriction will be his performance.
Rookie Tarik Skubal will go through a similar rationing plan soon. Rookie Matt Manning was eased into the season and likely won’t need to have his innings limited.
“These guys have to pitch fatigued and the only way you learn it is by experiencing it,” Hinch said. “They can’t learn it by telling them, they have to live it. If we get to where we’re playing into October, that’s another 40-50 innings on top of it.
“We’re trying to be very proactive in this. We’re trying to make them uncomfortable and doing something you haven’t done before can be physically uncomfortable and mentally grueling.”
Physically uncomfortable and mentally grueling might have been exactly how the Rangers felt. They were outscored 15-0 in a double-header loss to the Blue Jays Sunday in Buffalo and have lost six straight. Monday’s loss marked the first time in their 40-year tenure in Texas they have been shut out in three straight games.