Fresh off a sweep of the Orioles at Comerica, the Detroit Tigers hit the road in Tampa looking to keep their longest win streak of the year going. Things got tense towards the end of the game, but then an unlikely hero lifted the team on his shoulders and put another W on the streak as the Tigers beat the Rays 3-2.
Through the first three innings, Corey Kluber gave up more hit by pitches (2), then hits (1). Though not the Corey Kluber that faced the Tigers many times in years past, he made it through the order the first time with relative ease. The second time however, the Tigers broke through. In the 4th inning. Miguel Cabrera singled and the Jonathan Schoop launched on a sinker for a no doubter home run to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The good swings did not continue, unfortunately. Kluber settled back in in the fifth and struck out the side and then struck out the first two batters in the sixth for good measure before ending it after a 2 out single from Jeimer Candelario. His final line: 6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks (2 HBP though), 8 strikeouts, on 90 pitches.
Rookie Alex Faedo, Tampa native, came in looking to build upon an impressive pair of starts and build he did. Sporting a 42% whiff rate on his slider, he upped it to 47% tonight and backed it up with precision command of his fastball. He mixed his slider and changeup to allow the fastball to play up and for a while he was able to throw the fastball right by hitters too.
Faedo also had the benefit of a couple of nice defensive plays on the day. After an quick first inning, Ji-man Choi led off the second with a double to right field. Vidal Brujan rapped a solid ground ball to Jonathan Schoop and the second baseman took advantage of Choi’s lack of speed, firing a strike to Jeimer Candelario who tagged out the lead runner. Moments later, Tucker Barnhart cut down Brujan trying to steal second. Willi Castro had a couple of adventures in left field as he acclimates to the position, but he made the plays.
One of the really nice points to Faedo’s outing, was that after getting bailed out by some nice defense, he settled into through the middle innings and seemed to be getting stronger as he went. He struck out Mike Zunino and Tayler Walls to start the third, but allowed a single to Brett Phillips. A walk to Yandy Diaz made for a nervous at-bat against Wander Franco, but the Rays shortstop lined out, and Alex Faedo put together a couple more strong innings before his night ended.
The only downside to his outing was that he got figured out the third time through the order. He entered the sixth inning having only given up two hits, but the loveable Brett Phillips lead off with a deep flyball that struck the far catwalk in the OF and thus was ruled a home run,
because Tropicana Field is a trash stadium because MLB is rich in stadium quirks. Faedo was eventually lifted after a hard single with two outs before Andrew Chafin got the final out on one pitch.
Chafin worked a scoreless seventh, giving way to the power back end duo of Michael Fulmer and Gregory Soto. However that the dynamic duo has been one of the weaker points in the pen in recent weeks. Fulmer immediately struggled with his command and eventually coughed up the lead after putting two on, throwing a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position, and allowing a deep flyball to tie the game. He did ultimately get out of the inning with an infield popup but the damage was done.
Things were looking down going to the top of the ninth. The creeping fears of so many recent losses were building in the background. And then, with two outs, Harold Castro strode to the plate and did this.
His first home run of the year, ninth career home run in 881 at bats, was very well timed. Suddenly there was a lead, and the Tigers had Soto to turn to. First up to face him was former Tiger Isaac Paredes, pinch hitting and looking for some revenge. He did not get it as he popped out harmlessly. With two outs Soto gave up a single, but he calmly got Mike Zunino to fly out to Hill in center for the win. Four in a row! A.J. Hinch and the Tigers kept saying that once the wins and runs start coming, they would be contagious. Looks like they were spot on.
Take a look at the swagger and that bat flip! You deserve it, Harold!
Excellent Tweet, Tigers.