Detroit Tigers’ slump continues despite Joey Wentz’s debut in 9-0 loss to Oakland A’s

Detroit Free Press

Joey Wentz didn’t stand a chance in his MLB debut.

He didn’t throw enough strikes.

The Detroit Tigers didn’t stand a chance either, considering the offense was shut out for the third time in five games. The Tigers lost, 9-0, as Oakland Athletics left-hander Zach Logue — in his third MLB appearance — fired seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts.

That’s 15 losses in 18 games.

“We should be better and we will be better,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “It feels like it’s never going to end because of how long this has lasted. … We have not found solutions. Rather than talk about problems, we got to try to find some solutions.”

The Tigers (9-22) failed to hammer Logue’s 89 mph fastball and struggled against his secondary offerings. Facing three pitchers total, the home team exited the ballpark Wednesday with seven hits, zero walks and seven strikeouts in front of 15,375 fans at Comerica Park. Two of the hits came in the ninth inning, with the outcome no longer in doubt.

“There’s a lot of urgency to find our stride as fast and possible and maintain it,” said Spencer Torkelson, who finished 0-for-3 with one strikeout. “But there’s 130 games left, so a lot can happen.”

“We need to win tomorrow,” Hinch said. “All that matters is tomorrow’s game.”

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On the other side, Wentz gave the Tigers a less-than-expected 2⅔ innings in the first start of his career. He gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks with one strikeout, throwing 41 of 73 pitches for strikes.

Against Wentz, the Athletics averaged a 95.5 mph exit velocity.

“It’s not good, no matter the level,” said Wentz, demoted to Triple-A Toledo after Wednesday’s loss. “It was my first one, but you don’t want to come in and leave 6-0 in the third inning. It was cool to throw in a major-league game, but I’m not ignorant to the fact that I didn’t give us a chance today.”

The Tigers picked up their hits from Javier Báez, Miguel Cabrera, Jeimer Candelario and Derek Hill, with Cabrera picking up three and Hill recording two. Cabrera reached 3,013 career hits, passing Wade Boggs (3,010 hits) for 29th place in MLB history.

Hill had the lone extra-base hit.

Each of the first four innings for the Tigers’ offense ended in strikeouts.

“He made a lot of good pitches,” Torkelson, hitting .149 in 28 games this season, said of Logue. “His fastball was a little deceptive. It’s from a lower (arm) slot, so it looks like it’s rising a little bit, so it plays up a little bit.”

Relievers Wily Peralta, Alex Lange, Jacob Barnes, Michael Fulmer and Gregory Soto pitched, beginning in the third inning. Peralta conceded Oakland’s seventh run in the fifth, while Soto gave up the eighth and ninth runs in the ninth.

A rough first

For Wentz to be successful, the 24-year-old needed to throw strikes.

Called up from Triple-A Toledo, Wentz flashed his lack of command against the first batter, Tony Kemp, in the first inning. He walked Kemp on 12 pitches, and a wild pitch advanced him hitter to second.

A two-out RBI single from Sean Murphy put the Athletics ahead 1-0.

Wentz used 30 pitches to get his first three outs.

“He had a tough night,” Hinch said. “He was in trouble every inning, whether it’s some walks, some hits, some sequencing things. … It was a lot of pitches in a short amount of time and a good learning day for him.”

Three of the first four batters in the second inning drilled singles off Wentz: Christian Bethancourt (first-pitch fastball), Elvis Andrus (3-1 fastball) and Cristian Pache (1-0 fastball).

Between Bethancourt and Andrus, Wentz recorded his first MLB strikeout against Kevin Smith with an elevated 93.6 mph four-seam fastball. Pache’s single, though, resulted in an RBI for a 2-0 Oakland advantage.

Kemp followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

“Every pitch matters,” Hinch said. “He’s got to dial it in pretty aggressively when he can. If he’s going to get beat, get beat with your best stuff. I think he’s got some development left, to be able to spin the ball, get off the fastball and have the courage to throw some secondary pitches in fastball counts.”

The Athletics continued to haunt Wentz in the third inning, so much so they forced Hinch to turn to the bullpen. That’s because Wentz allowed three more runs.

Sheldon Neuse tripled to right field on a 2-0 fastball, and Murphy scored him with a sacrifice fly, though that gave Wentz two outs for the inning. Still, the first-timer crumbled.

An eight-pitch walk, a single up the middle and Smith’s two-run double ended Wentz’s outing; Peralta replaced him with two outs in the third. The Athletics controlled a 6-0 margin, more than enough to crush the Tigers.

“My raw pitches play,” Wentz said. “Where they don’t play is over the dish and belt-high. I haven’t really watched the video on it, but I’m assuming there was a lot of that today and a lot less of ‘to the corners’ and ‘down’ and ‘up.’ I thought I did throw some good pitches, but overall, the quality just wasn’t what it needed to be.”

For Wentz’s 73 pitches, he used 40 four-seam fastballs (55%), 18 changeups (25%), 10 curveballs (14%) and five cutters (7%). He logged five swings and misses: four fastballs, one changeup. He also produced six called strikes.

His fastball averaged 92.7 mph.

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

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