Tigers 5, Guardians 3: Strong work from the bullpen carries Detroit to a doubleheader sweep

Bless You Boys

After a solid 4-1 victory in game one, courtesy of a fine major league debut from Garrett Hill, the Tigers came out looking to sweep the doubleheader from their AL Central tormentors, the Cleveland Guardians. They got it done thanks to some timely hitting, power from Eric Haase, and a heck of a good job by the Tigers’ bullpen once again, winning 5-3.

Alex Faedo was good early on. He racked up three quick fly balls outs in the first, then struck out Franmil Reyes to open the top of the second. Andres Gimenez walked, but Faedo struck out Owen Miller, and Gimenez was cut down by Eric Haase trying to steal second. Richie Palacios singled to lead off the third, the Guardians first hit on the night, but Faedo coolly froze Sandy Leon with a backdoor slider and then popped up Oscar Mercado and Steven Kwan to end the inning.

Meanwhile the Tigers offense went quietly in the first, but mustered a threat in the second when Miguel Cabrera led off with a solid line drive single. Eric Haase walked, but Spencer Torkelson flew out down the right field line. Cabrera tagged and made it to third, though he would’ve been a dead duck if the throw from Steven Kwan had been anywhere near third base. Unfortunately, Haase didn’t get a great read on the throw and hesitated to tag up from first and was thrown out at second base. Harold Castro grounded out to squander the scoring opportunity.

In the bottom of the third, Jonathan Schoop, whose 4-for-4 day in game one was a sight for sore eyes, led off with a double to left. Victor Reyes grounded out and Schoop moved to third with Riley Greene at the dish. The rookie center fielder grounded one to second base, and Andrew Gimenez came home with it but a nice slide from Schoop enabled him to get around the tag and score.

Javier Báez chased a high fastball to strike out on three pitches, and that left it up to Robbie Grossman, who is hitting .360 against left-handers this year despite his terrible numbers from the other side. Pilkington stayed away and eventually walked Grossman to move Greene to second with Cabrera up to the plate again. Unfortunately, after a cat and mouse AB with Pilkington trying both sides of the plate, Cabrera whiffed through a high fastball to strand two.

The fourth started with Alex Faedo walking Amed Rosario. Never a good idea to walk the leadoff hitter in an inning, but particularly with Jose Ramirez up next. Damn that guy is good. He did his thing, muscling a single into center field while Rosario hustled to third. Franmil Reyes then received an 0-1 gift from Faedo, a slider right down the pipe that the slugger torched off the wall in left for an RBI double, moving Ramirez to third. Faedo was pretty lucky that one didn’t leave the yard, and Chris Fetter hustled out for a chat, presumably about Faedo’s arm angle, which dropped in this inning after he’d been nicely on top of the fastball the first three innings.

Andres Gimenez lifted a fly ball to right field for a sacrifice fly to score Ramirez. Owen Miller followed with a ground ball single to left to score Reyes, and it was suddenly 3-1 Cleveland as a strong start came unglued for the Tigers’ rookie right-hander. Palacios popped out for the second out of the inning, and that left just catcher Sandy Leon for Faedo to retire and avoid any further trouble. He couldn’t do it, walking the light-hitting catcher, and then falling behind Mercado and walking him as well. Just an absolute mess of an inning for Faedo.

The loss of control drew concern from A.J. Hinch, and he and the training staff convened with Faedo on the mound. The rookie appeared to be arguing to stay, and threw two test pitches, but probably, injured or not, Hinch had seen enough of him and some of this was just theater to allow Tyler Alexander to start getting loose. They ultimately decided to yank Faedo in favor of the left-hander, and we’ll have to see if the Tigers’ have their 100th injury to a starting rotation member, or thereabouts.

Alexander took over with the bases loaded, and fortunately a Steven Kwan line drive went right to Riley Greene in center to finally end the inning.

Eric Haase got a gift in the bottom half when his pop up in front of home plate dropped in for a double due to some miscommunication between Leon and Pilkington. Torkelson got ahead in the count, but ultimately grounded out sharply to shortstop and Haase couldn’t advance. Harold Castro grounded out one to first, but beat Pilkington to the bag as Owen Miller flipped it to him. Initially called out, the play was overturned, and the Tigers had Haase at third, Harold at first with one out. That brought up Jonathan Schoop in the midst of a heck of a day at the plate. Looking to go 6-for-6, the second baseman grounded one up the middle and off of Rosario’s glove into center field, scoring Haase and allowing Harold Castro to race around to third base. Victor Reyes then grounded out to shortstop, but not before Castro scored from third to tie the game at three apiece.

Tyler Alexander tossed a quick top of the fifth, getting three routine outs.

Robbie Grossman singled with one out in the bottom half against reliever Trevor Stephan, then stole just his third bag of the season to move into scoring position at second. Unfortunately, Miguel Cabrera struck out, and Eric Haase’s deep fly to right field was hauled in by Kwan at the warning track.

Alexander gave up a single to Gimenez to open the sixth, but Owen Miller flew out and pitch hitter Ernie Clement, in for Palacios against the lefty, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

Torkelson singled to start the bottom half against Stephan. Harold Castro got rung up in a 3-2 count, and Terry Francona went to Bryan Shaw instead with Schoop at the plate. The second baseman again hit the ball hard, but lined out to Gimenez at second, but Victor Reyes followed by pulling a solid single through the infield as Torkelson went first to third.

Riley Greene stepped to the dish and Shaw missed twice, clearly wary of the dangerous rookie. Greene eventually chopped one high to the middle of the infield and no play was possible for Gimenez. Torkelson raced home, and the Tigers led 4-3. A soft tapper back to the pitcher from Báez ended the inning but the club had a much needed lead. You do not want to face Emmanuel Clase with a lead, particularly as Fulmer and Soto pitched in game one.

Hinch sent Alexander out for the seventh, a consequence of having already used his two best relievers earlier in the day. It felt risky. Alexander got Leon to fly out, but Mercado singled to center field. Fortunately, Kwan grounded one to second and Schoop and Báez turned another really nice double play to turn the Guardians away.

Shaw struck out Grossman to open the bottom of the seventh, and Cabrera quickly grounded out to third. The right-hander tried to drop a curve on the inner edge, but Eric Haase turned and smoked it to left for his sixth long ball of the year. 5-3 Tigers. Torkelson struck out to end the inning and send us to the eighth.

After strong work from Alexander, Hinch turned to Alex Lange in the eighth facing the heart of the Guardians order. The right-hander looked great, striking out the side, including a nasty twoseam fastball that sailed away from a Jose Ramirez for a rare swinging strike three.

The Tigers went quickly in the bottom of the ninth, and left it up to Joe Jiménez to collect the save. The big right-hander has always had a ton of talent he couldn’t quite harness, but under Chris Fetter it’s really come together. Jiménez is using his fastball down in the zone more, and it’s paying huge dividends. He carved up the Guardians easily, and the Tigers had themselves a doubleheader sweep. The right-hander will be part of a huge display of excellent relievers the club will be selling off over the next month. Pray that Al Avila can find some good bats in those deals. Lord knows he needs the assistance.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like Alex Faedo suffered an arm injury, as the rotation is extremely stretched. Drew Hutchison, the eternal spot starter, will return again tomorrow to match up against Cal Quantrill on Tuesday evening as the Tigers hunt for a series win over Cleveland.

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