Rays rough up Beau Brieske, bring Tigers’ win streak to a fast stop

Detroit News

St. Petersburg, Fla. — Game plans are only as good as those who execute them.

The Tigers watched the Rays attack fastballs and chase breaking balls against Alex Faedo Monday night. So on Tuesday, rookie right-hander Beau Brieske was looking to establish his breaking balls early.

“It was also based on the way I’m trying to progress in my outings,” Brieske said of the plan. “That was the focus point for me this past week, to get a feel for those pitches (slider and curveball) and implement them early in the game.

“Maybe if I didn’t leave a couple up in the zone they would have been ground balls and we’re not talking about it now.”

Instead, the Rays gave Brieske the worst beating he’s endured in his short time in the big leagues, banging out six runs on nine hits against him in 5⅓ innings and stopping the Tigers’ win streak at four with an 8-1 win at Tropicana Field.

“Just as a staff we had trouble spinning the baseball tonight against a lineup that can hunt the heater with the best of them,” catcher Eric Haase said. “That was the difference-maker. We got beat on like three 0-2 counts trying to spin and it just ended up a cement mixer back over the middle of the plate.”

BOX SCORE: Rays 8, Tigers 1

The Rays scored a run in the first on two singles off sliders. In the second, Brieske got ahead of left-handed hitting Kevin Kiermaier with three straight fastballs. Then, with the count 1-2, he threw his first and last curveball of the outing.

Kiermaier smashed it, hitting it on a line into the right-field seats.

“He was late on the fastballs up and I had an advantage on him,” Brieske said. “If I make a good pitch there, maybe it’s a different ballgame. The right pitch there would’ve been to bounce the breaking ball and change speeds and his eye level.”

The Rays put five balls in play against Brieske’s slider, sinker and curve and all five were hit hard — combined average exit velocity of 101 mph. Conversely, they put 17 balls in play against his four-seam fastball and change-up with an average exit velocity of 86 mph.

“My fastball and change-up, if I’m being honest, felt like the best they’ve been all year,” Brieske said. “I made a few mistakes when I threw the fastball in leverage counts. But most of my mistakes were with the breaking balls.”

A walk and a balk in the fourth set up an RBI single by Kiermaier and then things unraveled on Brieske.

The Rays scored three runs in the fifth, starting with a home run to right field by Brett Phillips, who smoked a fastball. Brieske’s night ended with one out in the sixth after he booted a comebacker by Phillips.

“He had trouble with the first hitter of every inning almost,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He was in trouble and under duress for much of the game. It’s the first time the game sped up on him a little bit. But he’s been good for us. He just got caught facing a team that can really hit.

“Anything he threw that was remotely hittable, they moved it forward.”

Brieske, though, won’t let this outing discourage him from establishing his breaking balls early in his outings.

“That’s something I don’t want to shy away from ever,” he said. “Even if I’m not locating them. I can’t back down from that challenge. I can’t pigeonhole myself into being a two-pitch pitcher, even though they got to them.

“I need to do a better job in developing them and executing them.”

The Tigers couldn’t offer much pushback against Rays’ stingy lefty Shane McClanahan. The only mark against him in seven innings was a 430-foot home run to right by Jeimer Candelario, his third of the season.

McClanahan, who came in leading the majors with 58 strikeouts, allowed four hits total with seven punch-outs.

“He’s just a real good pitcher with plus pitches across the board,” Hinch said. “His track record is to generate a lot of swings and misses (he had 18 on 50 swings). Once he established that he was going to throw strikes, he got chases and he did what he did.

“I’ve never seen him bad, but I imagine this is what he looks like when he’s good.”

The Tigers’ bats woke up a bit after he left. Briefly. Against right-handed reliever Ralph Garza Jr., Spencer Torkelson, Daz Cameron and Robbie Grossman singled to load the bases.

But Torkelson was forced out at the plate on a nubber by Willi Castro and Javier Báez bounced into a fast 4-3 double play.

Tigers reliever Will Vest, who came in with a 12-inning scoreless streak, was tagged for two runs in the eighth, including a 417-foot home run to dead center to Randy Arozarena.

cmccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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