Texas Rangers right-hander Mike Foltynewicz allowed 10 runs and recorded just five outs in his last start. While the Detroit Tigers didn’t put him through the same agony Thursday, they made him uncomfortable in the series finale.
The Tigers (47-51) jumped Foltynewicz for three runs in the first inning, setting the tone for a 7-5 win over the Rangers to sweep the four-game series at Comerica Park. The victory extended the Tigers’ winning streak to seven games, all since the All-Star break.
Detroit is 38-27 since May 8.
“We feel really good about how we’re playing,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We’re getting results and getting wins on the board. … It’s still just about the next game. It’s not about what we’ve already done here.”
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After a 7-0 record on the homestand, the Tigers take on the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins for a six-game road trip. They’re ahead of the Royals and Twins in the American League Central standings.
“We got to handle business within the division if we want any chance to keep moving up,” Eric Haase said.
This season, Foltynewicz has allowed an MLB-leading 31 home runs in 20 starts. Three Tigers crushed home runs off him Thursday: Haase, Zack Short and Victor Reyes.
Foltynewicz conceded six runs (five earned) on five hits and two walks over four innings.
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With one out in the first inning, Jonathan Schoop reached on a fielding error by second baseman Nick Solak. Robbie Grossman followed with a five-pitch walk. Haase stepped into the box and, three pitches later, homered over the left-field wall.
Haase swung and missed at a first-pitch slider and took a two-seam fastball for a ball before unloading on the second slider he saw from Foltynewicz for a 3-0 lead. His home run traveled 413 feet and came off his bat at 110.8 mph.
“We were just having good at-bats all day,” Haase said. “We were making their pitching staff work a little bit and got into their bullpen quick again, which was huge for us.”
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In 49 games, Haase has 15 home runs and a .237 batting average.
In the second inning, the Tigers picked up a leadoff triple from Willi Castro. He was summoned from Triple-A Toledo on Thursday morning, as second baseman Isaac Paredes went to the 10-day injured list.
Reyes’ sacrifice fly to right field scored Castro for a 4-0 lead.
Alexander starts, bullpen takes over
Making the transition from the bullpen, left-hander Tyler Alexander started and took the Tigers through 3⅔ innings. He threw 37 of 59 pitches for strikes in his first traditional start this season as the Tigers deal with injuries.
Alexander allowed one run on three hits and one walk. He struck out four batters.
The Rangers scored their first run in the fourth inning on Andy Ibanez’s RBI single. Alexander struck out David Dahl for the second out before righty reliever Erasmo Ramirez entered. He struck out Charlie Culberson to end the frame.
“I didn’t know how long I could go with him,” Hinch said. “He would always want to go a little longer, and he’s going to give me everything he’s got. When I pulled him, he was a little bit unlucky. I thought both he and Erasmo were a little unlucky with where the hits went and how they got taken out of the game at the time they did. I wanted to avoid the big inning with Culberson facing a lefty.”
Ramirez was pulled in the sixth inning, after conceding three runs on two hits and two walks over 1⅔ innings. The Rangers picked up all three runs against him in the sixth, trimming their deficit to 6-4. Although right-hander Buck Farmer gave up a two-RBI double to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the runs were charged to Ramirez.
Farmer then struck out Eli White to escape further damage.
Right-hander Kyle Funkhouser pitched the seventh and eighth innings. In between, Grossman dropped a two-out single into left field to score Reyes for a 7-4 lead. Funkhouser then retired Adolis Garcia, Joey Gallo (strikeout) and Jonah Heim for a perfect seventh.
He took a 16⅓ scoreless innings streak into the eighth inning but Ibanez ripped a leadoff triple into the deepest part of Comerica Park, and Dahl scored him with a sacrifice fly to center field. It was Funkhouser’s first earned run allowed since June 17. He has a season-long 2.41 ERA after his two innings of one-run ball.
“Funk has impressed me the most,” Alexander said. “I’ve played with him a lot through the minor leagues. I’ve seen him as a starter. I’ve seen him well. I’ve seen him bad. I like how he’s pitching now. The confidence he has, it’s very impressive.”
All-Star Gregory Soto protected the two-run lead with a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 11th save, and his third in three straight games.
“Soto came to me before he went out to the ‘pen and said he felt really good today, so I kept him in mind,” Hinch said. “The way the game evolved, I was going to try to stay away from those back end guys and then ended up using him at the end.”
With one out in the fourth, Short turned on a four-seam fastball up and in from Foltynewicz. The first pitch of his at-bat traveled 379 feet and was deposited over the bullpen in left field. It was Short’s second home run in as many games and fifth homer this season.
“We’re getting that feeling where we can score in any inning,” Hinch said. “We can create an inning. We get some doubles here and there. We got action. We got the two guys stealing bases. I mean, that’s a good feeling as an offense where you don’t have to sit and one for one guy to get up to bat, or for the order to turn over again for the top of the order that we usually lean pretty heavily on.”
Reyes drilled his home run just three pitches later. He tagged a two-seamer below the strike zone and drove the ball over the right-field wall. It marked Reyes’ second homer this season and his first since April 5.
The pair of solo shots pushed the Tigers’ lead to 6-1.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.