Tigers 2, Royals 1: The bullpen does some heavy lifting

Bless You Boys

After a late scratch of Matt Manning moments before the start of the game due to “arm fatigue,” the bullpen pulled off a fantastic patchwork effort with a 2-1 victory, all the runs being scored in the first inning.

Will Vest got the emergency start for the Tigers — and his first ever start as a professional. He’s had a solid season out of the bullpen, with 60 ⅓ innings across 55 appearances. He’s only given up four home runs in that stretch (before tonight, as we’ll see), struck out about a batter per inning, and his walk rate is about 3.0/9 innings, which is a touch on the high side. He’s been a little easier on lefties than righties, especially in the walk department.

Coming into tonight, lefty Daniel Lynch has had a somewhat shaky sophomore season for the Royals. This was his 26th start; his WHIP is almost 1.6, he’s giving up almost four walks per nine innings, and his home run rate is almost 1.5 per nine innings. So, if the Tigers were looking to tee-off on someone, Lynch would be the guy to do so — not to mention what Detroit had done against him this season before tonight, a 1.035 OPS-against in three starts.

Vest gave up a leadoff home run to MJ Melendez to get the Royals on the board in the first, and although they had a lot more hard contact off him in the inning, Kansas City only tallied the single run — which was all they’d score all night.

Miguel Cabrera returned the favour, and then some, off Lynch in the bottom of the inning with Eric Haase on first.

As it turned out, that would end the scoring for the entire game, but not without some drama along the way, as you’ll see.

Daniel Norris took over for Will Vest in the second: Victor Reyes made a great diving catch, and Kyle Isbel got gunned-out trying to steal by Haase with a fantastic tag by Javier Báez:

But that wouldn’t be the last time Haase and Báez would team up to throw out Isbel with a nice tag.

Garrett Hill continued the Pitcher Parade in the fourth, and we’ve seen some great results out of him as a reliever lately. He got into a touch o’ trouble with runners on first and second with two out, but then he got Isbel to strike out and end the inning. Since Hill found that entertaining, exactly the same thing happened in the fifth, but Vinnie Pasquantino was the strikeout victim the second time around.

José Cisnero took over in the sixth and left the bases loaded with two outs for Andrew Chafin… who threw one pitch, and got a groundout to second. Meanwhile Lynch had, uncharacteristically, really settled down and hadn’t faced much of a threat since the first, and ended his day after six strong innings.

Chafin found himself in a bases-loaded jam of his own making in the seventh, but this time with only one out. Chris Fetter then went to the mound to start his magic-divining incantations, Chafin sacrificed a live chicken right behind the rubber, second baseman Ryan Kreidler’s eyes rolled back into his head, and third baseman Jeimer Candelaro set his glove on fire. (It was really quite a scene for an average Wednesday night in September, to be honest. Too bad there aren’t any surviving pictures, as all the photographers’ cameras mysteriously malfunctioned at the same time. Weird, huh?) In the end all that effort seemed to be worth the trouble, as Chafin got a strikeout and a groundout to keep the score at 2-1, where it had been since the first inning ended.

Alex Lange was the next up for the Tigers in the eighth, pitched a scoreless inning, and Haase gunned out Isbel again with a nice Báez tag. Nice to have another relatively boring inning, for sure…

…and then Gregory Soto came out for the ninth. (I kid, I kid — Soto’s been having a solid September.) He finished off the bullpen day with a 1-2-3 ninth, featuring a strikeout and a pair of groundouts.

Thinking About You, Florida

Here’s hoping everyone down there pulls through alright.

Notes and Numbers

  • I went to the Jays-Yankees game last night, hoping to see history. Instead, I saw Aaron Judge hit a lineout to third and get walked four times. BORING!
  • Riley Greene’s OPS by month, since being called up in mid-June: .733, .639, .745, .647. Honestly, I thought he’d been doing better
  • Riley Greene turned 22 today. What were you doing on your 22nd birthday? Were you batting leadoff for a major-league baseball team?
  • On this date in 1928, biologist Alexander Fleming noticed something a little strange in his laboratory: there was something that was pretty good at killing bacteria. This something was a mold which we would later call penicillin, and it would go on to save countless lives that would have otherwise been lost to bacterial infections.

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