Coming off a double-header sweep of Cleveland, the Tigers looked to clinch the series and hopefully get some innings from Drew Hutchison in this one to spare a tired bullpen. Clutch Hutch supplied the innings and the offense provided the punch as the Tigers routed Cal Quantrill and the Guardians 11-4 in a game that finished with each team using position players to pitch.
The Guardians got on the board early in this one as the usual suspects, those being José Ramirez and Franmil Reyes, teamed up with a double and a sacrifice fly to plate a run for Cleveland in the first inning. The Tigers only got a single from Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the first inning, but things were about to really heat up.
After a quick top of the second inning from Hutchison thanks to an inning ending double play, the Tigers set to work ambushing Quantrill. With one out Jonathan Schoop reached after being hit by the first pitch he saw. Jeimer Candelario then reached on a fielder’s choice ground ball that ate up second baseman Amed Rosario. Spencer Torkelson walked to load the bases for Victor Reyes and put Quantrill in a bind. Reyes came up big, flicking a 1-2 changeup off the plate the opposite way to score two runs. Torkelson tried to make it to third but was cut down trying to take the extra 90 feet.
That brought up Riley Greene and he quickly got to work doing Riley things, ripping a double into the right field corner to score Reyes and put the Tigers up by two. Robbie Grossman drew a walk and Cabrera blooped a single into right for his second hit to score Greene and just like that the Tigers were up 4-1 and Quantrill was over 50 pitches in the second inning.
Hutchison followed with a shutdown 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third to put Quantrill back out on the bump, where he was greeted with back-to-back singles by Harold Castro and Schoop to put runners on the corners and put him right back on the ropes. This time he was able to battle back and strikeout Candelario and then initially looked to get out of the inning on a combination strikeout-caught stealing of Torkelson and Schoop, but replay overturned the out at second and Schoop was safe. Reyes then popped out to end the inning, but Quantrill’s pitch count was at 66 and he was feeling it.
The Guardians got to Hutchison again in the top of the fourth thanks to a one out double from Reyes, and then a two out RBI single from Owen Miller to bring them within two runs. That would be as close at they got in this one.
In the bottom of the inning, with two outs and Quantrill smelling perhaps his first 1-2-3 inning, Miguel Cabrera singled for his third hit of the night and then Eric Haase erased the Guardians gains with a big opposite field home run to put the Tigers up 6-2.
Already with his longest outing of the year secured, Hutchison padded the stats with a scoreless top of the fifth, allowing just a leadoff single to Luke Maile before retiring the next three batters. That would be the end of his night and it was certainly a much-needed effort after yesterday’s double header. He threw a season high in both pitches and innings, with 85 pitches over five innings. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO. He attacked the zone with great efficiency and few big mistakes, keeping the Guardians batters off balance just enough to get by. A couple of well timed double play balls really helped the cause as well.
Nick Sandlin got the call to come in for Cal Quantrill in the bottom of the fifth, but the Tigers didn’t seem to notice as they picked up where they had left off. Candelario singled with one out and Reyes singled with two outs to setup Greene who ripped an opposite field double off the bullpen fence in left for a two run double and pushed the Tiger’s lead to 8-2. The Tigers were denied a chance to pile on in the inning when Chad Fairchild punched out Grossman on a 3-2 slider well off the plate.
Jason Foley got the call for the top of the sixth inning and worked a quick inning, the only blemish coming on a Andres Gimenez hit by pitch with two outs. Sam Hentges came on to try and give Cleveland a 1-2-3 inning but, the Tigers would not relent. Cabrera started with a walk, and Haase doubled to put two in scoring position with no one out. Harold Castro struck out swinging and then Francona chose to intentionally walk the hot hitting Schoop to load the bases.
However Hentges couldn’t find the zone and Candelario drew a six-pitch walk to force in a run. Torkelson followed with a grounder to Gimenez that should have been a double play ball but he bobbled it twice and had to settle for just the out at first, and another run scored. Reyes put the final touch on the run scoring with a single to right to pump the tally to 11-2 Tigers.
What followed was a strange series of events that really makes one reexamine the wisdom of baseball’s 13 pitcher limit rule. Wily Peralta came on to pitch the top of the seventh and looked like he might get the final three innings to himself as he cruised to an easy 10 pitch inning. Cleveland meanwhile decided to turn to their catcher Sandy León as this one was over, and the Guardians are in a tough stretch in their schedule. Hinch followed by immediately putting in Kody Clemens and Willi Castro for Grossman and Cabrera.
Somehow León pitched a scoreless and hitless 2 innings. Peralta came out for the eighth but after one out he was limping around the back of the mound and was removed with hamstring spasms, leading Hinch to put in Joe Jiménez in his place. Finally, in a “well if you can do it so can I,” style move, Hinch turned to Harold Castro for the ninth. He allowed a couple of hits and a couple runs but did the job and gave the tigers the 11-4 win. They’ll look to take a somewhat rested bullpen into the sweep attempt tomorrow. Winning four straight from Cleveland after years of torment would feel pretty good.
Odd reach, but okay.