The Detroit Tigers scored 21 runs in their past two games at Comerica Park, winning back-to-back matchups with the Texas Rangers to split the series. For the first time this season, the Tigers scored at least five runs in consecutive games.
Then, the Tigers traveled to Fenway Park.
A date with the Boston Red Sox reminded the Tigers of their reality: The recent offensive surge, a product of quality plate appearances throughout the lineup, was much needed, but the Tigers aren’t close to climbing out of the hole they dug.
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The Tigers lost, 5-2, to the Red Sox in Monday’s three-game series opener, with the offense producing 10 hits and one walk against five pitchers. In 2022, the Tigers (26-41) average 2.87 runs per game.
“Our at-bats got a little bit better as the game went on,” manager A.J. Hinch told reporters in Boston. “We couldn’t get the ball off the ground early. We didn’t get a big hit. We kinda chipped away a little bit, and then some misfortune.”
Red Sox right-hander Josh Winckowski, who entered with a 4.50 ERA, fired 6⅔ innings of two-run ball in his third MLB start. After facing the Tigers, Winckowski’s ERA dropped to 3.68.
The 23-year-old, a 15th-round pick in 2016, gave up seven hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Tigers rookie Riley Greene, in his third MLB game, finished 1-for-3 with one walk and one strikeout.
Tigers right-hander Alex Faedo, making his ninth MLB start, allowed five runs (four earned runs) on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts across 4⅓ innings, throwing 58 of 93 pitches for strikes.
Rookie Spencer Torkelson went 2-for-3 with one RBI.
“He’s hitting the ball hard,” Hinch said. “Some of his foul balls are hard. He’s swinging at good pitches. He’s always hung in there with the right pitches, but he’s being more aggressive. Some of the communication that’s going on pre-at-bat has gotten better. It’s a nice adjustment so far.”
The Red Sox scored their five runs on nine hits and two walks.
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An opportunity to score several runs came late in the game, as the Tigers put two runners in scoring position in the eighth inning. Javier Báez set up the chance with a two-out, two-strike double on a slider from former Tigers right-hander John Schreiber.
But Greene stranded both runners by striking out looking for the third out.
Signs of life
The Tigers scored their first run in the second inning.
Torkelson tied the game, 1-1, with a sacrifice fly to center field. It scored Greene, who drew a five-pitch walk with one out. Between Greene’s walk and Torkelson’s sacrifice fly, Jeimer Candelario — fresh off the injured list — singled to left field.
Greene advanced from first base to third base on Candelario’s single.
One player reached base in the third, fourth and sixth innings, including Báez’s ground-rule double in the fourth, but the Tigers couldn’t score again until the seventh.
Winckowski returned for the seventh and allowed a leadoff single to Greene, but he bounced back by getting Candelario to ground into a double play for the first two outs.
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Torkelson and Jonathan Schoop chased Winckowski with a pair of two-out hits. Torkelson singled to center field on a two-strike sinker, and Schoop drove him in on a second-pitch slider he hammered to deep right-center field for an RBI double, cutting the lead to 5-2.
After Schoop’s RBI double, Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled Winckowski in favor of left-handed reliever Jake Diekman. Hinch countered by pinch-hitting Eric Haase, a righty with power, for Tucker Barnhart.
Haase lined out to end the top of the seventh.
Not Faedo’s finest hour
The Red Sox wasted no time against Faedo.
Faedo, though, didn’t do himself any favors by walking Jarren Duran, the first batter, on five pitches. Duran stole second base and scored on J.D. Martinez’s one-out single, putting the Red Sox ahead 1-0.
Back-to-back doubles from Duran (on a third-pitch slider) and Rafael Devers (on a full-count fastball) in the third inning made it 2-1 Red Sox, but Faedo escaped further damage by retiring the next three batters: Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo.
Faedo, who didn’t have his best slider but refused to rely on his changeup, needed 60 pitches to complete three innings.
“When they stack the lefties they way they have these left-handed hitters, you got to get them out in different ways,” Hinch said. “You can’t sequence the same way. He’s got to make adjustments and make pitches. He did that in order to hang in there. When they put on him, he made some big pitches and escaped some big innings.”
The Red Sox tacked on their third run in the fourth inning, which began with Greene’s fielding error. Trevor Story advanced to third base on Franchy Cordero’s single, and he scored for a 3-1 advantage on Christian Vazquez’s sacrifice fly.
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Sending Faedo to the mound for the fifth inning proved costly for the Tigers. He put runners on the corners — Verdugo (single) and Story (double) — with one out before left-handed reliever Tyler Alexander took over.
“We can’t keep asking our bullpen to get 15-plus outs,” Hinch said. “We’re going to drive those guys into the ground. Our starters have to go a little deep. There are some lessons that got to be learned.”
Cordero drilled Alexander’s first-pitch cutter for a two-RBI single. His hit put the Red Sox up, 5-1.
For his 93 pitches, Faedo tossed 45 four-seam fastballs (48%), 43 sliders (46%) and five changeups (5%). He recorded seven swings and misses — four with his slider — and 15 called strikes. Faedo rarely threw his changeup, which he has used 15.6% of the time this season.
Following Faedo’s outing, the Tigers’ bullpen posted zeros on the scoreboard with 1⅔ innings from Alexander, one inning from right-hander Joe Jimenez and one inning from righty Will Vest.
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