Detroit Tigers get power from Eric Haase, speed from Akil Baddoo in 8-5 L to N.Y. Yankees

Detroit Free Press

TAMPA, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the New York Yankees, 8-5, on Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The Tigers dropped to 1-2 in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

Last season, the Tigers averaged 0.68 home runs per game en route to 110 on the season, last (by far) in the majors. The new-look Tigers have hit seven home runs through three spring training games. They added two to their total against the Yankees.

Power swings from Eric Haase and Kerry Carpenter carried the Tigers, while other players — especially Akil Baddoo — contributed in other ways to spark the offense. Baddoo, in a competition with Carpenter for a roster spot, stole second twice in three innings.

Haase hit a two-run home run in the first inning.

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Haase, who started at catcher and played through the top of the sixth inning, demolished an 89.6 mph cutter from right-hander Luis Severino. The pitch traveled right down the heart of the plate, and Haase absolutely crushed it: 422 feet to straightaway center field.

His homer put the Tigers ahead 3-0.

“I’m definitely happy with the pitches I’m swinging at this spring,” Haase said.

The Yankees scored four runs in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead.

Colt Keith hit a double in the eighth and advanced to third on Mario Feliciano’s groundout. Justyn-Henry Malloy flew out, and Keith was thrown out at home plate by right fielder Tayler Aguilar.

Starting off

Right-hander Beau Brieske allowed two runs on two hits and two walks with one strikeout, throwing 19 of 33 pitches for strikes. The 27-year-old focused on his four-seam fastball and mixed in five changeups, four sinkers, three curveballs and two sliders.

It was his first game action since early August.

“Just trying to get comfortable out there again,” Brieske said. “I wanted to get in there, throw a couple innings and attack the zone. I wanted to feel good with my mechanics and feel consistent, which I didn’t do too well out of the windup. Other than that, I just wanted to attack hitters and get a feel for my pitches.”

His four-seam fastballs averaged 95.9 mph. He struggled at times to locate his fastball, seemingly to the arm-side, but he battled through his outing without relying too much on his secondary pitches.

Both Brieske and Haase thought the performance on the mound was better than the results indicated.

“Hassey and I both through we were in the zone,” Brieske said. “I felt like I was drilling the spots. We were working the bottom of the zone, and I thought I was spinning the ball right to the bottom of the zone. That’s what we’ve been working on to steal strikes early.”

“Mark (Wegner, home plate umpire) is great behind the plate,” Haase said. “He was like, ‘Hey, these are the first pitches I’m seeing in five months.’ You respect that as his first ones. As far as misses, for what Beau is trying to do, that’s exactly where he needs to be.”

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The Yankees scored both runs in the first inning on Oswaldo Cabrera’s RBI single and Harrison Bader’s sacrifice fly.

“Beau was just missing early, and then he got a pretty good volume in,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “In talking to Haasey, he was just missing barely down. At this point in the spring, it was good to get his volume up.”

At the plate

The Tigers opened the scoring because of Baddoo’s speed.

He hit a line-drive single, stole second during Carpenter’s strikeout and advanced to third base on a throwing error. On the next pitch, Javier Báez drove in Baddoo with a single down the first-base line and into right field for the first run.

“He did a lot of running tonight,” Hinch said.

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In the third inning, Baddoo worked a six-pitch walk against Severino. The Yankees then replaced Severino with right-hander Aaron McGarity. The first batter he faced, Carpenter, drove a changeup above the strike zone for a 337-foot home run inside the right-field foul pole.

His two-run homer put the Tigers ahead 5-2.

“It’s pretty interesting,” Hinch said of Baddoo. “When he gets going, he’s a spark at the top of the lineup, or at the bottom, wherever he’s at. I like his swings. He’s starting to get his ‘A swing’ a little bit more often, and then, obviously, he’s a difference-maker on the bases.”

On the mound

The Tigers received scoreless innings from right-hander Alex Lange, left-hander Tyler Alexander and righty Trey Wingenter — their first three arms out of the bullpen — but none of those pitchers recorded strikeouts.

Wingenter, a 28-year-old who hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2019 due to several injuries, handled the sixth inning. He threw four of his nine pitches for strikes, and when he missed, he wasn’t close to the strike zone.

An inning-ending double play helped him escape a one-out walk.

“We’re trying to let these guys get their feet under him,” Hinch said. “I joked with him that if you’re going to walk someone, if you retire them on a (double play), I’ll forget about it. … This guy has worked really hard to try to get back on the field. He wants a new opportunity, and he’s got it.”

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After Wingenter, the Tigers called on right-hander Edwin Uceta for the seventh inning. He recorded three strikeouts (and six swings and misses) but struggled to locate his pitches consistently.

The Yankees scored four runs against him.

Three of them were earned runs.

Right-hander Elvis Alvarado allowed the first two batters to reach safely on a single and walk in the eighth inning. Catcher Andrew Knapp made a throwing error on a stolen-base attempt, which gifted the Yankees their seventh run.

A sacrifice fly provided their eighth run.

Alvarado, who hasn’t pitched above Double-A Erie, allowed two runs on one hit, two walks and two hit batters. He threw just nine of 27 pitches for strikes, and his sinker averaged 95.4 mph.

Right-hander Dario Gardea, pulled up from minor-league camp, entered with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning. He used his slider to strike out Jesus Bastidas and escape the jam.

Three stars

1. Baddoo, 2. Carpenter, 3. Brieske.

Next up

Tuesday (1:07 p.m.) vs. Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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