Detroit Tigers get preview of post-deadline ‘pen as Derek Law implodes in 5-3 loss to Jays

Detroit Free Press

TORONTO — Right-hander Drew Hutchison returned to Rogers Centre, the place where he spent the 2015 season as an Opening Day starter, and provided the Detroit Tigers with a solid performance Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 31-year-old allowed one run on two hits and three walks in five innings. Hutchison exited the game after throwing 68 pitches due to a right ankle injury but is expected to make his next start as scheduled.

“I’ve had pretty good success in this building,” Hutchison said. “It’s been a while ago, and at times, it feels like a few lifetimes ago. I’m just trying to go out there, help our team win, pitch well and put my best foot forward.”

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The Tigers squandered Hutchison’s effort in the sixth inning, when right-handed reliever Derek Law allowed four runs — due to a hit-by-pitch, fielding error, wild pitch and three-run home run — in his first MLB appearance since July 10, 2021.

The Tigers lost, 5-3, in the third of four games in the series.

“He didn’t execute his (cutter) to a good offense and didn’t field his position on a comebacker that could’ve got him out of the inning,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “As we’ve said for three straight days, extra runners and extra outs against these guys is dangerous.”

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Hinch sent Law — called up Saturday morning from Triple-A Toledo — to the mound for the Tigers (41-61) to protect a 3-1 lead in a high-leverage situation against the best batters in the Blue Jays’ lineup.

Law posted a 3.23 ERA with 10 walks, 44 strikeouts and 15 saves (in 19 chances) over 39 innings in 33 games for the Mud Hens.

“I could have calmed myself down a little bit,” Law said. “I was pretty amped-up.”

Santiago Espinal, the No. 9 hitter, singled to right field. After Law eliminated Espinal on George Springer’s forceout, the 31-year-old drilled Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the left wrist. Guerrero stayed in the game and took first base.

The next batter, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., reached safely on Law’s fielding error to load the bases. The ball bounced back to the mound, but Law bobbled and booted the ball while trying to collect himself and get the force out at third base.

“I got the ground balls that I needed to and when I wanted to,” Law said. “(Springer) beat out the ground ball to avoid the double play, and then I botched my own efforts to scramble and get a double play, too. All in all, I could have been out of it in quicker than 25 pitches.”

Bo Bichette then cut Toronto’s deficit to 3-2 with a sacrifice fly.

Hinch had righty Alex Lange warming, but he kept Law in the game to face Teoscar Hernandez. A wild pitch advanced both runners — Guerrero to third base and Gurriel to second base — before Hernandez crushed a three-run home run to center field to make it 5-3, Jays.

“We’re gassed in the ‘pen,” Hinch said. “We had to try to get to the finish line, so we tried to squeeze some outs of some guys. I was going to get Lange in there, and when the game flipped, I’m not going to put him in a loss.”

Hernandez, who has 14 home runs this season, set a pair of personal highs with his swing on Law’s cutter: 109 mph exit velocity and 424 feet. All six pitches during the Hernandez at-bat — and 21 of the 26 pitches in Law’s outing — were cutters.

“I went to the well one too many times to Teoscar,” said Law, who added he had trouble hearing PitchCom, the electronic pitch-signalling system, because of the noise from the fans and doesn’t want to use it in the future. “I could’ve mixed it up. … Don’t get me wrong, I was going to throw a majority cutter anyway. I think I could’ve switched up a pitch or two with Teoscar.”

Scratching out a lead

The Tigers took a brief lead in the fifth, as the offense scored two runs after loading the bases to begin the frame: Eric Haase (single), Robbie Grossman (single) and Jonathan Schoop (hit-by-pitch).

Initially, the Schoop hit-by-pitch was ruled a double play.

Home plate umpire Alex Tosi believed the ball deflected off the knob of Schoop’s bat, so Toronto’s defense tossed the ball around the infield, recording outs at third, then first. Hinch challenged the ruling and won, which loaded the bases with nobody out.

“There’s no column for moral victories,” Hinch said. “I appreciate that we’ve been playing better, and these are some good teams we’re playing. I like the at-bats all the way to the very end. We were a couple feet away from tying the game, but you want to win these.”

Kody Clemens’ sacrifice fly got the Tigers on the scoreboard and chased Blue Jays right-handed starter Ross Stripling, and then Riley Greene’s RBI double off right-hander Adam Cimber put the Tigers ahead 2-1. Schoop was then thrown out at home plate for the second out.

Cimber tried to pick Schoop off at third. The ball got past third baseman Matt Chapman, but he recovered and fired a dart to catcher Danny Jansen to keep the Tigers from adding another run.

“Totally unlucky,” Hinch said. “Unlucky and Matt Chapman.”

Javier Báez then grounded out for the third out.

In the top of the sixth, before Law’s implosion, the Tigers took a 3-1 lead on Schoop’s RBI single with two outs.

The Drew league

For most of his outing, Hutchison escaped self-inflicted jams.

The Blue Jays scored in the first for a 1-0 lead on Gurriel’s RBI single — which plated Guerrero after he stole his second base of the season — but from that point on, Hutchison managed his mistakes.

He worked around a one-out walk in the second with a double play, a two-out walk in the third with a forceout and a leadoff walk in the fourth with another double play. His only perfect frame was the fifth, also his last inning.

“I think I’m going to be fine,” Hutchison said. “Just something that happened, something yesterday that I do all the time. … And then today, obviously, I was battling through it. As the game went on, there was a hole on the mound, which didn’t help.”

For his 68 pitches (35 strikes), Hutchison used 32 four-seam fastballs (47%), 19 sliders (28%), 12 sinkers (18%) and five changeups (7%). He earned seven swings and misses: five with his four-seamer and two with his sinker.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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