Detroit Tigers rookie Casey Mize gives up three home runs in 4-1 loss to Boston Red Sox

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers rookie Casey Mize maneuvered through difficult jams for most of Wednesday’s start.

The 24-year-old worked around a leadoff walk in the first inning, a leadoff single in the third and a leadoff double in the fourth. He seemed on his way to giving the Tigers a chance to beat the Boston Red Sox, after doing so previously with a solid start May 5 at Fenway Park.

But the Red Sox teed off for two home runs in the fifth inning, sending Mize and the Tigers (52-58) to a 4-1 loss in the second of three games at Comerica Park. That came after a homer from ex-Tiger J.D. Martinez, who drilled Mize’s two-seam fastball 410 feet to right-center in the second inning.

“A lot of misfires with the four-seam (fastball),” Mize said. “We were trying to elevate some, and I was just really, really sailing them. Turned out to be a lot of waste pitches with the four-seam, and I don’t think the slider was very effective for me. It was just a grind without those two pitches.”

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The pair of home runs in the fifth inning were two-out blasts, making Mize’s situation even more frustrating. He allowed a leadoff double to Hunter Renfroe but bounced back by striking out Franchy Cordero looking with a 3-2 slider.

Christian Vazquez then flied out to right on a first-pitch two-seam fastball.

That’s when the Red Sox tagged Mize: Enrique Hernandez smacked a 3-2 slider for a two-run homer over the left-center wall, and Jarren Duran followed with his second career MLB home run on a 1-0 two-seamer for a 4-0 lead.

“You just got to execute at a high level all the time, or else they’re going to make you pay for it,” Mize said. “I get 0-2 to Kike (Hernandez) right there, and I don’t execute on three pitches in a row, and then I have to throw a strike slider. That’s just the epitome of that. He beat me on the 3-2 slider, but I beat myself on the three pitches prior.”

Manager AJ Hinch added: “Three of those runs score with two outs on a night where we couldn’t get anything going offensively. It felt like even a bigger lead than they actually had, and they beat us.”

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez carried his team through five scoreless innings. The left-hander conceded just two hits and four walks. He struck out 10 and threw 99 pitches before the bullpen took over to begin the sixth.

The Tigers finished 5-for-32 with six walks and 18 strikeouts, including an 0-for-9 performance with runners in scoring position. Their lone run came in the seventh, when Jonathan Schoop hit a 406-foot home run off lefty reliever Josh Taylor.

Jeimer Candelario doubled with one out in the eighth inning, but pinch-hitters Willi Castro and Harold Castro struck out against right-hander Adam Ottavino.

“We just couldn’t quite create enough momentum to make them uncomfortable,” Hinch said.

Mize’s start

The three homers — totaling 1,191 feet — spoiled Mize’s outing. Early on, however, Mize stayed calm, executing pitches when he needed to and making defensive plays.

“One pitch away from it being five innings, one run instead of five and four,” Mize said. “Then we got a chance to stay in the game better than we did. Definitely frustrating.”

In the first inning, Mize escaped runners on the corners with a double play started by shortstop Zack Short. He set up the final two outs by throwing Rafael Devers a two-seam fastball. The two-seamer helped Mize again in the fourth, when Martinez broke his bat on an inside pitch and Schoop made the catch.

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Mize flashed his defense in the third inning.

Catcher Grayson Greiner noticed Vazquez was trying to steal second. Mize picked up on what was happening, so he stepped off the mound and completed his throw to Short at second base for the second out. He then fielded Duran’s weak grounder to conclude the third.

To start the fourth, Xander Bogaerts doubled down the left-field line. But Mize came back to get the next three batters, including Martinez, to strand the runner at third.

Mize did not return for the sixth inning. He allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk with three strikeouts, throwing 49 of 76 pitches for strikes. The bullpen — Derek Holland, Buck Farmer and Joe Jimenez — kept the Red Sox scoreless for the final four innings.

“By them putting up some zeros, we were able to make (the Red Sox) use their bullpen the way we did,” Hinch said. “That sets us up for a day game tomorrow and a chance to win the series, where they had to tax their ‘pen a little bit.”

Offense silenced

Regardless of Mize’s performance, the Tigers were lifeless against Rodriguez.

The Tigers stranded runners on second in the first, third and fifth innings, then got another scoring chance in the sixth against righty reliever Hirokazu Sawamura — runners on first and second with one out.

But Greiner and Short struck out looking.

“Credit to those guys for getting into leverage counts,” Hinch said. “They put us away. We didn’t have a counterpunch at the time we needed one.”

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Likjewise, the first-inning opportunity was ruined when Miguel Cabrera and Eric Haase struck out swinging. Schoop, who doubled, was stranded at second base in the third because Grossman struck out swinging and Cabrera grounded out to the pitcher. In the fifth, Short drew a walk and made it to second base with two outs, but Grossman struck out looking.

Rodriguez got 12 of 15 swings and misses from his four-seam fastball and the other three from his changeup.

“We got beat by the fastball early,” Hinch said. “Rodriguez was doing a good job of moving his fastball around. It cuts and sinks a little bit. He threw a few more than he has in his previous starts.”

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Cabrera went 1-for-4 with a single and one strikeout in Wednesday’s loss.

Entering Wednesday, the 38-year-old was hitting .533 (8-for-15) with one double, three home runs, five RBIs, three walks and one strikeout in his past five games. After Schoop’s home run, Grossman drew a two-out walk. The Red Sox called Ottavino from the bullpen to face Cabrera, who popped out to end the seventh inning.

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Cabrera remains two home runs away from No. 500 and 55 hits away from No. 3,000.

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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