Detroit Tigers winning streak snapped in 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays

Detroit Free Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan controlled the Detroit Tigers from the onset of Tuesday’s game.

And the Rays’ offense supported its starter, scoring six runs against Tigers rookie Beau Brieske and eight total. Two runs would have taken care of business for the home team. The Tigers lost 8-2 in the second of three games at Tropicana Field.

The Tigers (13-24) had their four-game winning streak snapped.

“You got to pick a spot and go to it, and if you never get that pitch, you’re tipping your hat,” catcher Eric Haase said. “But everyone’s in the same boat. We’re up there battling, but when the guy’s not making a whole lot of mistakes in the zone, with stuff like he has, it can be a tough night.”

Tampa Bay scored one run in the first inning, one in the second, one in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the eighth. The Tigers, meanwhile, scored their lone run in the fifth inning on Jeimer Candelario’s solo home run.

[ Harold Castro on rare HR celebration vs. Rays: ‘I gotta do something’ ]

Candelario crushed a no-doubt homer off McClanahan’s first-pitch 93.6 mph four-seam fastball. It was the left-hander’s slowest fastball of the game; the pitch averaged 96.3 mph and maxed out at 97.8 mph.

But Candelario tagged the slower-than-usual fastball, which traveled 430 feet with a 108.3 mph exit velocity.

Across seven innings, McClanahan surrendered one run on four hits. He struck out seven batters without conceding a walk, throwing 63 of 90 pitches for strikes. The second-year pitcher primarily relied on his fastball, curveball and changeup, also mixing in a handful of sliders.

McClanahan logged 18 swings and misses, including seven with his fastball and six with his changeup.

“He’s a really good pitcher,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s got plus pitches across the board. His track record has been to generate a lot of swing and miss. Once he established that he was going to throw strikes, he got a few chases and did what he did.”

Missing a big chance

The Rays replaced McClanahan with right-handed reliever Ralph Garza Jr. The pitching change sparked three straight singles: Spencer Torkelson (1-0 sinker), Daz Cameron (1-2 slider) and Robbie Grossman (1-2 changeup).

The Tigers, trailing 6-1, had the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning.

They were held scoreless.

“I do like that we put up a little bit of a fight and had an opportunity,” Hinch said, “but we’d like to see some runs pushed across.”

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The fourth batter of the inning, Willi Castro, grounded into a force out. His 2-foot dribbler was collected by Rays catcher Mike Zunino, who stepped on home plate to get the first out of the inning.

Still, the bases were juiced.

But Javier Báez — hitting .211 in 28 games this season — grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“We weren’t able to push anything across,” Hinch said, “and that’s the only way we were going to make it a game. Get a big hit, put up a crooked number and try to inch back. They came back and scored two right after that, and that was the finishing blow that essentially ended the game.”

In the eighth, Randy Arozarena hammered an 0-2 slider from right-handed reliever Will Vest for a solo home run. Brett Phillips later increased the Rays’ margin to 8-1 with a sacrifice fly.

Beau Brieske’s slow starts continue

Entering Tuesday, Brieske allowed a leadoff hit in each of his first four starts.

The Rays extended the streak to five starts, as Yandy Diaz opened the first inning with a single to left field. He came around to score for the game’s first run when Ji-Man Choi grounded into a force out.

“He’s been good for us,” Hinch said. “He got caught facing a team that can really hit. I though they took some really good swings. They’ve been one of the better offenses around. Anything he threw that was hittable, it seemed like they moved it forward.”

To open the second, Kevin Kiermaier hammered Brieske’s 0-2 changeup for a solo home run to right field. Brieske worked ahead against Kiermaier with three straight fastballs, all fouled.

Then, his first curveball of the game was smoked.

“The right pitch there is probably to bounce it,” Brieske said. “He wasn’t getting to the heater up in the zone, and if you throw a curveball there, just give him a different look by changing sights and speed. That would have been effective, even if he didn’t swing at it. But I just threw it right where lefties hit curveballs really far.”

Brieske struck out back-to-back batters — Zunino and Phillips — on six fastballs in a row to end the second, and he rolled through the third inning by sending the Rays down in order.

In the fourth, Brieske’s balk inadvertently plated Tampa Bay’s third run for a 3-0 advantage.

[ Tigers laud Beau Brieske’s first four starts: ‘He pitched like an adult’ ]

Brieske balked while trying to pick off Arozarena at first base. Arozarena walked freely to second base, then sprinted to score on Kiermaier’s ensuing single to center field.

The Rays countered Candelario’s fifth-inning homer with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Brieske tossed consecutive fastballs to Brett Phillips, the leadoff hitter that inning. Phillips smacked the second pitch for a solo shot.

“If we land some of that spin, they respect the heater a little bit more, which opens up the changeup,” Haase said. “Even then, he only got burned on one heater. He yanked it across the plate to Phillips. But his heater was electric as always. The big difference was landing that secondary pitch.

“When you’re ahead in the count and have a chance to finish a team like this, you gotta take advantage. We just didn’t.”

Diaz followed with a single to keep the pressure on in the fifth.

Choi (single) and Arozarena (sacrifice fly) tacked on RBIs for the fifth and sixth runs against Brieske, who allowed six runs on nine hits and one walk with four strikeouts over 5⅓ innings. He threw 78 pitches, 59 for strikes.

Hinch pulled Brieske with one out in the sixth inning, after the young righty allowed a one-out double to Mike Zunino and made a throwing error on Phillips’ bouncer near the pitcher’s mound.

For his 78 pitches, Brieske used 51 fastballs (65%), 18 changeups (23%), seven sliders (9%), one sinker (1%) and one curveball (1%). He had 11 swings and misses, getting 10 of them with his fastball.

He had one whiff with his changeup.

“It was basically just the spin that I wasn’t locating,” Brieske said. “Fastball and changeup, I felt like that was the best it has been all year with those two pitches. … I think most of the mistakes were made with breaking balls.”

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

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