‘That’s a lot of strikeouts’: Tigers suffer season-high 18 K’s in 4-1 loss to Red Sox

Detroit News

Detroit — Red Sox lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez has been navigating his way through the season with his cutter and change-up doing most of the work for him.

On Wednesday night, he broke out his four-seam fastball against an unsuspecting Tigers team.

The results weren’t pretty for the home team.

Rodriguez struck out 10 in five innings and the Tigers were punched out a season-high 18 times in a 4-1 loss to the Red Sox at Comerica Park.

“We got beat by the fastball early,” manager AJ Hinch said. “Rodriguez was doing a good job moving his fastball around, cutting it, sinking it a little. He threw more than he has in his previous starts.”

He threw 25 four-seamers and got 12 swings and misses and 13 called strikes. Six of the strikeouts came on called third strikes.

“We were in between pitches a lot,” Hinch said. “It looked like if we were sitting soft, we’d get beat by the fastball. If we were trying to hunt the fastball and he did anything to move the ball, we had a hard time adjusting.

“That’s a lot of strikeouts. Anything we had going, the at-bat ended in a strikeout. It was tough to create any kind of inning.”

The other side of this equation was Tigers rookie Casey Mize, who, for the second straight start, came within one out (one strike in this case) of keeping the Tigers in the hunt.

“They scored three runs with two outs on a night we couldn’t get anything going,” Hinch said. “It felt like they had a bigger lead than they actually had.”

Mize was pulling himself out of trouble inning after inning. And yet, he got through four innings mostly unscathed. The one blemish, he left a 2-1 two-seam fastball (93 mph) out over the plate to former Tiger J.D. Martinez leading off the second inning.

The result was familiar. He drove it 401 feet over the wall in right-center. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 109 mph.

According to Baseball Reference, it was Martinez’s 59th career home run to right-center field.

“We had some success going in with the two-seamer against him at Fenway earlier in the year,” Mize said. “I did that the second at-bat (broken bat line out) but this one leaked back over the plate.

“It was a high risk, high reward pitch and it didn’t go my way.”

Mize had escaped a first-and-third, one-out jam in the first, getting Rafael Devers to hit into a 6-3 double-play, a strong play by shortstop Zack Short. In the third, with a little heads-up yell from catcher Grayson Greiner, he stepped off the mound and threw out Christian Vazquez trying to steal second.

He pitched around a leadoff double by Xander Bogaerts in the fourth and looked like he was about to repeat the feat in the fifth. Didn’t.

Hunter Renfroe led off with a double and was still there with two outs. Mize got two fast strikes on Enrique Hernandez and then let him back in the count, missing with three straight pitches. The 3-2 pitch was a slider over the plate and Hernandez mashed it, 426 feet over the bullpens in left.

“You have to execute at a high level all the time or they’re going to make you pay for it,” Mize said. “I got him 0-2 and then didn’t execute three pitches in a row and had to throw a strike slider. He beat me on a 3-2 slider, but I beat myself on the three pitches prior.”

Next hitter, rookie Jarren Duran followed that up by hitting a two-seamer into the Tigers’ bullpen in left.

“It was similar to the Kansas City start (last time out),” he said. “Two outs in the fifth and gave up a three-spot to put us in a bigger deficit. It’s obviously frustrating. Just had a lot of misfires with the four-seam and I don’t think the slider was very effective for me either.

“But then again, I was one pitch from going five innings on one run.”

BOX SCORE: Red Sox 4, Tigers 1

This game, a three-true-outcomes special, was not a model for increased action in baseball. The teams combined for four home runs, eight walks and 26 strikeouts.

The craziest inning was the fifth. They worked Rodriguez for 29 pitches, had two base runners and didn’t put a ball in play. Two walks and three strikeouts.

Jonathan Schoop accounted for the Tigers’ only run with his 18th homer of the season, a 406-foot, solo blast to left field.

Miguel Cabrera remains at 498 career home runs, but he did move the hit counter. His single in the sixth off reliever Hirokazu Sawamura was hit No. 2,945.

With Derek Holland, Buck Farmer and Joe Jimenez combining to throw four shutout innings, the Tigers’ bullpen ran its scoreless innings streak to 21.

“The bullpen did a great job keeping us in the game,” Hinch said. “We couldn’t quite create enough momentum to make them uncomfortable.”

Twitter: @cmccosky

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