Tigers 2, White Sox 1: Brieske dazzles, Báez homers

Bless You Boys

Hot off their four-game sweep of the Guardians at home, the Detroit Tigers took to the road for the start of a 12-game road trip and faced the White Sox on the south side of Chicago. The Tigers only allowed four hits on their way to a tight 2-1 victory — but there was, of course, a little drama in the ninth.

Beau Brieske made his fourteenth start tonight, and if you predicted last year at this time that he would have made 14 starts in the big leagues before the All-Star Break, then you’d better register your crystal ball with the local authorities as a lethal weapon. Brieske’s stats so far have been so-so, but get this: as he goes through a batting order a second or third time, his OPS-against gets progressively better: .824 the first time, .747 the second, and a scant .565 the third time through.

Dylan Cease, who’s been one tough cookie, got the start for the Pale Hose. Cease has an ERA in the mid-2’s so far, he strikes out everyone, blah blah blah, but you know what, that moustache of his looks like it wants to be a mid-’80s Tom Brookens model, but it could never be that glorious. Not even close. Take that, Dylan!

Things were pretty quiet through the third inning, and hey, whadda ya know, Brieske hadn’t given up a hit by then. But, take a look at Jonathan Schoop climbin’ the ol’ ladder to snag a line drive.

Leading off the fourth, Javier Báez looked as if he got fooled on a Cease slider, but still curled it around the left-field foul pole for the first run of the game.

Through five innings, Brieske still hadn’t given up a hit; the only baserunner was a third-inning Josh Harrison walk. He’d thrown 74 pitches, 50 of them for strikes. How delightful.

Speaking of Harrison, he ended up getting the first hit of the night for Chicago, a leadoff single to left past Jeimer Candelario in the sixth. He was sacrificed to second by Reese McGuire, took third on a wild pitch with two outs, but Brieske got AJ Pollock to line out to shortstop and preserve the 1-0 lead.

At this point Brieske had thrown 85 pitches, mostly stress-free, and he was going through the lineup for a third time, which has produced good results as seen above. He still had his arm wrapped in a towel in the dugout as the Tigers batted in the top of the seventh…

…and, indeed, he’d come out for the bottom of the seventh to potentially face the 3-4-5 hitters in Chicago’s lineup. He got Luis Robert to fly out to left, but José Abreu lined a soft single to left and that was the end of Brieske’s night with a mighty fine final line.

Alex Lange, who again sported the sleeveless turtleneck look, struck out Eloy Jiménez, and then… well, on a 1-1 changeup in the dirt that Tucker Barnhart deftly backhanded, Abreu… uh… thought the ball got past Barnhart, went halfway to second, and just sorta… froze? And then Barnhart raced out and tagged Abreu himself for the very rare 2-unassisted putout between first and second? Honestly, I watched this thing three times and I still don’t get (a.) what happened, and (b.) why Abreu didn’t do something.

(Dan Dickerson said he’d never seen that play before. Fill-in radio color commentator Alex Avila said he actually pulled off this play last year, with the game tying run on second base in the ninth inning in Philadelphia.)

Andrew Chafin took over in the eighth, and my goodness he’s been good this year. This evening was no exception, and on the two-out Harrison popup to second base, we even got a vintage Coke Point to indicate, very helpfully, that a popup was indeed afoot.

The Tiger bench did the heavy lifting in the top of the ninth: Eric Haase, pinch-hitting for Harold Castro, singled to center. He took second on a groundout, and then with two outs, Spencer Torkelson pinch-hit for Kody Clemens and roped the first pitch he saw into left, scoring Haase and making it a 2-0 game.

Gregory Soto came on for the save, and he gave up a one-out single to the pesky Tim Anderson. He nibbled the outside of the strike zone against Pollock and walked him, bringing up Robert, who hit a liner under Torkelson’s glove at first base for a double, scoring Anderson and making it 2-1 with runners on second and third with one out. Curiously, Abreu wasn’t walked to load the bases — possibly because Hinch hates intentional walks, but also wasn’t trust Soto not to walk him and force in the tying run — but he chased a shoulder-high fastball for strike three and the second out. Jiménez then hit a grounder to short, the throw was scooped by Torkelson, and we could all tell our stomachs to stop doing backflips, as the Tigers held on for the victory.

The Tigers will look to stretch the streak to six on Friday night as a recently scuffling Tarik Skubal battles Lucas Giolito.

Notes and Observations

  • Riley Greene and fellow major-league Ryan Mountcastle went to the same high school in Florida, and were both selected in the first round of the MLB draft, four years apart. Mountcastle’s having yet another pretty nice year over there in Baltimore. Baseball Reference lists his most-similar batting stats through age 24 to be those of Albert Belle, who is a guy I haven’t thought about for many years, but holy mackerel, could that guy hit a baseball.
  • In case you missed it, both Dillon Dingler and Wilmer Flores were selected to participate in the Futures Game during this year’s All-Star festivities. Congrats, fellows!
  • On this date in 1494, Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided up the New World between the two kingdoms based on a line of longitude; Portugal got everything east of the line (which explains Brazil), Spain got everything west of it. Not consulted on the Treaty: all the people already living on those continents.

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