Tigers release some pent-up offensive firepower in 11-2 romp over Texas

Detroit News

Arlington, Texas – Veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel, pitching for his third team this season, has certainly had his moments against Detroit teams over the years. But not too many lately. Maybe the Tigers weren’t exactly licking their chops in anticipation of Keuchel’s debut start with the Rangers Saturday – but they weren’t stressing it, either.

Over the last two years, including his debut start with the Diamondbacks back in June, the Tigers had pounded out 19 runs in 25 innings against Keuchel – who once upon a time in Houston won a Cy Young Award pitching for Tigers’ manager AJ Hinch.

It did not go any better for him on this night.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 11, Rangers 2

Within the first 12 batters of the game, the Tigers scored four runs on six hits and went on to put up seven on Keuchel and beat the Rangers 11-2, evening the series at Globe Life Field.

“When you see a guy so much, it provides you a sense of calm,” said catcher Tucker Barnhart, who finished the night with three hits. “You know what he features. But for whatever reason, we’ve had a good approach and some success off of him — up and down the lineup.

“It feels nice to win a game in that fashion.”

To update the numbers: Since the beginning of last season, the Tigers have scored 26 runs in 30.1 innings against Keuchel.

“He threw a lot of strikes, where usually he is in and around the zone trying to get you to chase,” Hinch said. “Early on he was pumping strikes in there and we were pretty aggressive with him.

“His outing was dictated by us continuing to apply pressure.”

Victor Reyes, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games, doubled twice, scored twice and knocked in one run against Keuchel. Javier Baez had a pair of hits and a pair of RBI. Harold Castro had a pair of hits, Willi Castro singled in a run.

But the loudest of the 11 hits Keuchel surrendered in 5.1 innings was a 418-foot, two-run homer into the Tigers’ bullpen in left-center by Jeimer Candelario. Candelario now shares the team lead in homers with Baez – 11.

Candelario also doubled and scored in eighth inning.

“A lot to like offensively,” Hinch said. “That was a long time coming. We put together some really good at-bats and continued to tack on. A lot of guys had big nights. It was just a lot of fun for everybody.”

Eric Haase knocked in three runs, blasting a 428-foot, two-run homer off reliever Josh Sborz in the ninth. Has has nine home runs on the season.

The Tigers have accumulated 22 runs in the last three games, scoring six or more in three straight games for the first time this season.

“If you continually put good at-bats together, regardless of the outcome, positives start to come,” Barnhart said. “Obviously, we are late in the season. But it can provide some positivity going into the offseason and into next year with the way we finish.

“That was AJ’s message to us after the trade deadline. It’s not gone the way we wanted it to record-wise, but it means a lot the way you finish — personally and as a team.”

More: Poor strike zone judgment continues to torpedo Baez’s first season in Detroit

Eduardo Rodriguez made his second strong start since coming off the restricted list. He allowed a run in six innings and he got some significant help from the double-play ball.

“When we score runs like that, you just have to go and attack,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like it was one of those lucky days where you feel glad you have that kind of defense behind you. A lot of line drives, lot of ground balls with guys playing in the right places.”

He walked the first two batters he faced to start the game and after 12 pitches was down 1-0 and the Rangers had runners on the corners. But he was out of the mess in four pitches. He struck out Adolis Garcia on three pitches and turned a liner back at him from Jonah Heim into a 1-3 double-play.

With one on and one out in the third, Rodriguez fell behind hot-hitting Nathaniel Lowe 3-0. Lowe, hitting .360 since the All-Star break, pounced on the 3-0 fastball. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 104.6 mph.

But he hit it right at Baez, who playing up the middle – 6-5-3 double-play.

Lowe and Garcia singled to start the sixth inning and again Rodriguez was in the soup. The hit by Garcia extended his American League-best hitting streak to 23 games.

Again, Rodriguez wriggled out of it. With one out, Leody Traveras hit a bullet, 104.2 mph, right at second baseman Zack Short. He stepped on second to complete yet another double-play.

“I thought he was sharp tonight for sure,” Barnhart said. “That’s a tough lineup, it really is. They game-plan very well.”

Barnhart credited Donnie Ecker, the Rangers’ bench coach and offensive coordinator, with that.

“He was my assistant hitting coach in Cincinnati and I know how he prepares and I know how good the Giants’ offense was last year when he was their hitting coach,” Barnhart said. “They are going to make it tough on you.

“And they made it tough on Eduardo, but that wasn’t an indication of him not being sharp. There were some long innings but, shoot, he was able to pitch through the sixth inning and could’ve gone back for the seventh.”


Twitter: @cmccosky

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