This team folks…Had cats somehow found their way into Comerica Park to be caught on camera co-mingling peacefully amongst the parade of doggo’s on hand for Bark at the Park night, well, let’s say little would surprise us at this point.
Matt Manning and White Sox ace Carlos Rodon went toe-to-toe, and the vaunted Tigers’ relief corps, featuring Drew Hutchison, Ian Krol, and Alex Lange, outpitched a White Sox bullpen featuring Garrett Crochet, Ryan Burr, and Craig freaking Kimbrel. And of course, the game winning knock came courtesy of noted Michael Brantley understudy, Harold Castro, as the Tigers took down the AL Central leaders 4-3 on a rainy night in Detroit.
Manning did his Jekyll and Hyde routine again in this one. After an expeditious and overpowering first inning, he lost his rhythm badly in the second. He walked Yasmani Grandal to start the White Sox festivities. Eloy Jimenez flew out to right, but Manning then walked Leury Garcia as well. Fortunately, a pair of ground balls cleaned up the inning as the rookie escaped with no damage done.
That didn’t hold up in the third. Manning was still wild, walking leadoff hitter Brian Goodwin, and then giving up a single to Tim Anderson, which will happen, and hitting Luis Robert with a pitch. Manning got a ground ball to Jonathan Schoop, but they couldn’t turn the double play on the speedy Yoan Moncada, and Goodwin came in for the first run of the game. Yasmani Grandal flew out to center, allowing Anderson to cruise home from third, and then Eloy Jimenez doubled into the right-center field gap and Moncada came around to score. Fortunately, Manning got Leury Garcia on a sharp groundout to Miguel Cabrera at first base to end the inning.
However, now it was Carlos Rodon’s turn to falter. He walked Isaac Paredes in a full count to start the bottom half, and Willi Castro spanked a single back through the box into center field. Victor Reyes followed suit, drilling a hot grounder right back over second base and just out of the reach of the Sox’ infielders, and Paredes came around to score.
Then things got really interesting. Jonathan Schoop appeared to have grounded into a double play, but second baseman Cesar Hernandez reached to get Reyes, who stopped and tried to backpedal. Hernandez tagged him with his glove, but he had the ball in his hand by then so it didn’t count. He then threw high to first and Schoop was safe. Castro, in the meantime, raced home from third with the Tigers’ second run, and there were still no outs. A pair of fly balls from Robbie Grossman and Miguel Cabrera allowed Reyes to advance to third and then score, making history as Cabrera’s 1800th career RBI. Eric Haase struck out, but the Tigers had scored three on a walk and two singles.
From there, Manning settled in and had no trouble in the fourth or fifth. Nor did the Tigers’ offense do much of note. The rains began in earnest, and the game turned into inning by inning setpiece battles between the bullpens.
Ian Krol outdueled Crochet in the sixth, collecting a pair of strikeouts. Drew Hutchison allowed a two-out single in the seventh, but no more, and struck out Goodwin and Tim Anderson along the way. Honestly, I don’t know what to believe anymore. There is only this faith glowing within me now, and it’s frightening.
Ryan Burr came on in the bottom of the seventh and matched Hutchison with a quick scoreless frame. Undeterred, Hutchison came right back out and got a weak grounder from Grandal, punched out Eloy Jimenez, and a liner to center off the bat of Leury Garcia found Reyes’ glove. Craig Kimbrel crumbled a bit under Hutchison’s pressure. After getting the first two hitters, he nicked Robbie Grossman with a slider—allegedly—and Grossman stole second on a fastball that Kimbrel threw wide to the backstop as the rains continued.
Who was at the plate when this occurred? That’s correct. It was Harold Castro, lord of the clutch knock, and this time he just bounced one through the right side of the infield through a hail of infielders gloves, scoring Grossman, and giving the good guys their first lead of the game.
Alex Lange got the call in the ninth with Michael Fulmer and Kyle Funkhouser both gassed from the weekend. He needed just eight pitches to wrap this one up for his first major league save, and the Tigers are now 8-2 in their last 10 games, all of them against division leading opponents.
This whole season is weird and it’s been so much fun.
Bark at the Park
Since pet videos are the true currency of the internet, whatever the crypto and NFT folks want to say, we would be remiss if we didn’t give the gift of Simba Cam on Bark at the Park night.