Detroit Tigers rally, but can’t top Baltimore Orioles, 5-4, in Sarasota

Detroit Free Press

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 5-4, on Sunday at Ed Smith Stadium, dropping to 4-4 (with two ties) in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

Right-handed reliever Miguel Diaz has impressed the Tigers so far in spring training, so much so that the organization could add him to the 40-man roster as a member of the Opening Day roster.

But Diaz, who signed a minor-league contract earlier this month, allowed three runs in the fourth inning Sunday, putting his team behind by two runs.

“Diaz made a few mistakes today,” manager AJ Hinch said.

The Tigers stranded the bases loaded in the sixth inning but bounced back in the seventh against Orioles left-handed reliever Paul Fry. Derek Hill singled and used his speed to score on Victor Reyes’ RBI double, trimming the Tigers’ deficit to 4-3.

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Eric De La Rosa, the pinch-runner for Reyes, advanced to third on a wild pitch, with Ryan Kreidler drawing a walk. The Tigers had runners on the corners for Spencer Torkelson, but he struck out swinging.

In the eighth, the Tigers tied the game, 4-4, on Parker Meadows’ two-out RBI double to left-center field. The Orioles scored the final run, though, with an RBI single from Rylan Bannon off right-handed reliever Bryan Garcia in the bottom-half of the inning.

“Strong kid, and he’s starting to grow into his man-strength,” Hinch said of Meadows. “These kids that come over a couple years in a row, I think he just feels more comfortable in his skin. The swing has gotten a little better. The strength is a little better. He’s got tools, and if you have tools, you have a chance.”

Starting out

Left-hander Tyler Alexander, set to remain in the starting rotation until righty Michael Pineda receives his work visa and gets in-game reps, pitched 2⅔ innings of one-run ball. His outing was cut short due to a long third, which included two errors from shortstop Jack Lopez on the same play.

Lopez botched a double-play grounder for a fielding error, then made a wild toss to first base for a throwing error. The Orioles had put their first two batters on base, so a run scored on the play to tie the game at 1-all.

“I think, together, all of us could have been a little sharper,” Hinch said. “We didn’t play great defense behind him. We didn’t really help him. That’s about the end of that.”

The 27-year-old lefty was pulled with two outs in the third inning, after striking out Anthony Santander. He allowed one run on one hit and two walks with two strikeouts, facing 12 batters and throwing 26 pitches.

Alexander retired the first six batters before running into trouble in the third.

“I threw a lot of strikes, not all quality strikes, but more strikes,” Alexander said. “That was a goal of mine today, based off what I did last week. I would have liked to go three, but they didn’t want me to get to 30 (pitches). I get it.”

At the plate

The Tigers scored their first run in the first inning. Willi Castro ripped a two-out line drive to right field for a single, and Jeimer Candelario scored him for a 1-0 lead with a double to left field.

Orioles right-handed starter John Means allowed one run on four hits with four strikeouts in three innings. He was replaced by righty Jordan Lyles, who also tossed three innings of one-run ball.

When Lyles entered for the fourth, Eric Haase greeted him with a leadoff double to left. The Tigers went ahead 2-1 on Harold Castro’s RBI single to center. Isaac Paredes grounded into a double play, ending the inning.

Both Candelario and Castro finished 2-for-3 with one RBI and one strikeout. Haase went 2-for-3 with one strikeout. Paredes was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the sixth inning and left the game.

He is considered day-to-day.

“So far, so good,” Hinch said. “The initial diagnosis is positive. We’ll get him retested again tomorrow, but the initial diagnosis is that it’s a good sign for us, and he should be fine.”

On the mound

Diaz, taking over for Alexander, recorded the final out in the third inning, getting Rougned Odor to groundout.

He returned for the fourth and allowed a leadoff home run to Ramon Urias. The homer evened the score at two runs apiece. Then, Robinson Chirinos took Diaz deep to left for back-to-back homers and a 3-2 Orioles lead.

His outing continued to spiral with one out in the fourth, as Kelvin Gutierrez cranked a ground-rule double to put two runners in scoring position. Austin Hays followed with an RBI groundout to make it 4-2 Orioles.

Right-hander Jose Cisnero pitched a perfect fifth inning. It was his first spring training appearance.

“Cisnero got through pretty quickly and easily,” Hinch said. “He’s a tick behind, so we got to get him a few more outings before we can get out of here. He had a backfield outing, so that wasn’t his first time facing hitters and things like that. But he’s a tick behind, so we got to get him up and running.”

The Tigers went to righty Drew Hutchison in the sixth and seventh. He pitched two scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and three strikeouts.

Three stars

1. Cisnero, 2. Hutchison, 3. Candelario.

Next up

Monday vs. New York Yankees in Lakeland.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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