Casey Mize records RBI, scoreless start in Detroit Tigers’ 4-3 win over Cardinals

Detroit Free Press

ST. LOUIS — Something just wasn’t right with St. Louis Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty.

In the second inning, he walked Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize — making his first plate appearance since his senior year of high school — on four pitches with the bases loaded. In the third, Robbie Grossman and Miguel Cabrera drilled an 88 mph fastball and a 79 mph slider, respectively, for back-to-back home runs.

Those pitches forced Cardinals manager Mike Shildt and trainer Adam Olsen to meet Flaherty on the mound. He then departed and was diagnosed with right shoulder tightness, but the damage on the scoreboard was already done. The Tigers cruised through seven innings and, despite allowing three runs in the eighth, secured a 4-3 victory Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

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Winners of two in a row, the Tigers (61-66) are 52-42 since May 8 and 21-15 since the All-Star break.

Cabrera drilled his 500th home run Sunday in Toronto, making him the 28th player in MLB history to reach the historic mark. One game later, he crushed Flaherty’s hanging slider to the second-deck “Big Mac Land” porch in left field for his 14th homer this season and No. 501 of his 19-year career.

The ball traveled 422 feet.

The 38-year-old finished 2-for-3 with a home run, single, walk and flyout to the warning track in center field. His fifth-inning single pushed him to 2,957 career hits, passing Willie Keeler for 35th on the all-time hits list. (He is three home runs away from tying Eddie Murray for 27th on the all-time homers list.)

Cabrera is 43 hits away from No. 3,000.

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Two pitches before Cabrera went yard, Grossman smoked Flaherty’s 88 mph fastball to right-center for his 19th home run.

The solo shots from Grossman and Cabrera gifted the Tigers a 4-0 lead in the third inning.

Mize’s milestone

Although Mize guided the Tigers to their win with his right arm, he made history.

The 23-year-old pitcher became the first MLB player at any position to draw a bases-loaded four-pitch walk in his first career plate appearance since Chicago Cubs pitcher Courtney Duncan on May 5, 2001. Once Mize drew his walk, he flipped his bat toward the dugout and celebrate with his teammates upon reaching first base.

His first-career RBI put the Tigers ahead 2-0 lead in the second inning.

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On the mound, Mize bounced back from a 6.08 ERA over his first three starts in August.

He posted five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Keeping the Cardinals at bay, Mize threw 50 of 76 pitches for strikes, recorded seven ground-ball outs and only needed a pair of swings and misses.

Mize conceded leadoff hits in the first, fourth and fifth innings, but he was in complete control and never seemed in danger of allowing runs. He lowered his season-long ERA to 3.55.

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Bullpen survives scare

Kyle Funkhouser took over for Mize and posted two scoreless innings. He struck out three batters, all with his four-seam fastball: Dylan Carlson (95 mph), Nolan Arenado (96 mph) and Lars Nootbaar (96 mph).

Funkhouser has allowed two runs over his 14 innings in 13 appearances since July 27, despite struggling with his command — 10 walks to 14 strikeouts — during that span. Before Tuesday’s performance, he had walked a batter in five consecutive outings.

He boasts a 2.92 ERA over 52⅓ innings in 2021.

In the eighth, Erasmo Ramirez allowed a leadoff triple to Harrison Bader and walked Edmundo Soto before Tommy Edman’s groundout produced the Cardinals’ first run. Ramirez recorded an out but hit Carlson with a changeup, brining Arenado — representing the game-tying run — to the plate.

The Tigers countered with Michael Fulmer, but Arenado won the four-pitch battle with a two-run double to the right field corner to make it 4-3. He escaped further damage when Yadier Molina struck out swinging at a slider to end the eighth.

Fulmer returned for the ninth and kept the Cardinals from scoring for his eighth save.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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