Faedo, Tigers slip in Game 2; Baddoo set to join club

Detroit Tigers

KANSAS CITY — The temperature at Kauffman Stadium was 93 degrees when Riley Greene stepped into the batter’s box on Monday afternoon, and 87 when Robbie Grossman did the same that evening. As Alex Faedo stared toward home plate prior to his 37th pitch of the first inning, it could have felt like 110.

Faedo had thrown just two of his first 13 pitches against the Royals for strikes, walked three batters and struck out two. He was a full-count pitch away from walking in a run and likely giving way to Tyler Alexander. Faedo’s 37th pitch was just his 17th strike, and just the second ball put in play. Kansas City’s Kyle Isbel hit it for a 105.4 mph line drive, but right at right fielder Victor Reyes for the final out.

It was one of the few breaks the Tigers received in the twin bill. It still didn’t save Faedo — who left an inning later with 60 pitches and just five outs recorded — or Detroit from a doubleheader sweep with a 7-3 loss in the nightcap after dropping a 3-1 decision in Game 1.

“We were in trouble from the very first hitter in the bottom of the first,” manager A.J. Hinch said.

The Tigers, back on a four-game losing streak, need a spark. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that they’re summoning last year’s rookie sensation, Akil Baddoo, from Triple-A Toledo now rather than waiting for the All-Star break. After a 7-for-50 start in Detroit cost him a roster spot, Baddoo recovered from a slow start and an oblique injury with the Mud Hens to bat .300 (33-for-110) with a .905 OPS, 19 walks and 26 strikeouts. He’s 15-for-37 (.405) with three homers and nine RBIs in July.

It would be easy for Hinch to say they need Baddoo’s energy, power and speed. But when asked about the move, he put it bluntly.

“Akil’s playing great,” Hinch said. “We need guys that are playing good.”

Just as the Tigers’ six-game winning streak last week erased the bad feelings of a rough series against the Royals at Comerica Park and built momentum going into the final week before the break, Monday’s sweep was a reminder where Detroit has to make up the gap if the club is going to salvage something from this season.

The Tigers have flipped their fortunes against Cleveland, winning seven of nine so far against the Guardians. They’re 5-6 against the American League Central-leading Twins, and they just played a competitive series last weekend in a four-game split against the White Sox in Chicago. But Detroit has lost five of eight so far this season against the last-place Royals, and would have a six-game losing streak against them if not for back-to-back ninth-inning homers by Reyes and Greene on July 2 at Comerica Park. The Tigers have led in just two of their last 45 innings vs. Kansas City.

Thus, as well as the Tigers played last week, they’re still separated by just a game and a half from the Royals.

“Definitely [frustrating],” catcher Eric Haase said of the sweep, “especially when we feel like we’re beating ourselves.”

As difficult as Faedo’s start made things in Game 2 against the Royals, Detroit’s consistent struggle was familiar: The Tigers couldn’t get the big hit when they needed one.

“They had opportunities. We had opportunities,” Hinch said. “They did more with theirs.”

The Tigers plated four runs in 18 innings of the twin bill, and they have scored just six runs over their four-game losing streak. Their lone run in Game 1 scored on a wild pitch from starter Brad Keller, who baffled Detroit for the second time in 11 days, this time for seven innings.

Detroit went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position in Game 2, stranding Javier Báez with three consecutive outs after his RBI double in the first inning against Royals starter Daniel Lynch, and an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners in the fifth inning.

While Kansas City’s rookies tormented the Tigers, including six hits by Bobby Witt Jr. in the doubleheader, Detroit didn’t get the same. Grossman reached base four times in the nightcap, but he scored only once. Haase had two hits and a walk but no runs.

Though Spencer Torkelson had some well-struck line drives in the nightcap, including a flyout to the left-field warning track, he went 0-for-7 in the doubleheader, dropping his average to .192. Greene had two singles and Detroit’s lone run in the opener before sitting the nightcap, his first game off since his callup June 18.

With no sign of Austin Meadows returning anytime soon — he was pulled from his rehab assignment with Toledo with lingering soreness in his Achilles — the Tigers have an opportunity in their outfield for Baddoo to be their spark again. It might not happen on Tuesday against Royals lefty Kris Bubic, but Hinch plans on playing Baddoo the rest of the week leading into the break.

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