Detroit Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson hits first home run in 8-4 loss to St. Louis Cardinals

Detroit Free Press

JUPITER, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-4, on Saturday at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

The Tigers are 12-11 in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

First baseman Spencer Torkelson, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, has been crushing baseballs throughout spring training. His exit velocities are excellent, and he recently started getting rewarded for them with extra-base hits.

On Saturday, Torkelson was rewarded with an opposite-field solo home run in the fifth inning.

“I’m sure it felt good for him,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.

“It’s always good to see the first one go out,” Torkelson said. “But you know me. I’m just going to keep doing my thing and trusting that results are going to happen.”

WAITING ON SCHOOP: Tigers’ Jonathan Schoop needs to start hitting (and drawing walks) to keep playing

BIG BROTHER: Tigers’ Austin Meadows takes progression one step at a time to ‘get back to being me’

The 23-year-old, in a full count, got a sixth-pitch fastball inside the strike zone from Cardinals left-hander Matthew Liberatore. Torkelson hit the ball 359 feet to right field with a 98.4 mph exit velocity.

It was his first homer in spring training.

“I’ve always hammered fastballs,” Torkelson said. “Last year, I think that shows you that’s not who I am. I’m always on the fastball, and when I’m going, I’m not missing. Just getting back to myself against fastballs, and then I can pick up the other pitches and trust my eyes.”

Starting off

Left-hander Matthew Boyd, making his fourth start in spring training, allowed three runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts across four innings. The Cardinals, loaded with right-handed hitters, tagged him for all three runs in the second inning.

Boyd threw 44 of 63 pitches for strikes, then tossed an additional 10 pitches in the bullpen following his outing for a total of 73. He was scheduled for 65 pitches in the game.

“I haven’t done this since rehab, extending out,” said Boyd, who underwent flexor tendon surgery in September 2021. “It’s nice to get out there and do that while using all my pitches. It was a constant mix. That’s my game. We use all four of my pitches. I really like being able to do that.”

TOP DRAFT PICK INJURED: Tigers prospect Jackson Jobe to miss 3-6 months with lumbar spine inflammation

ROSTER 2.0: Tigers’ 2023 Opening Day roster prediction: Why matchups matter for almost all

Boyd needed eight pitches for three batters in the first inning, 33 pitches for eight batters in the second, eight pitches for three batters in the third and 14 pitches for three batters in the fourth.

“That was a high-volume (second) inning for him, so I was really happy when he went out the next inning and was pretty efficient,” Hinch said. “Matt Boyd will be pretty hard on himself, wanting to be a perfectionist. … He’s right where he needs to be for where we’re at in camp.”

In the second, Willson Contreras drilled Boyd’s changeup below the strike zone for a double to center. Alec Burleson drove him in with a single, putting the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, on a first-pitch sinker.

Taylor Motter, who fell behind 0-2 in the count, turned on a high-and-tight fastball. He sent the ball over the left-field wall for a two-run home run, increasing the Cardinals’ lead to 3-0.

After Motter’s homer, Boyd gave up two singles and one walk to the next five batters, but he avoided further damage with a pair of strikeouts and a pickoff. He struck out Dylan Carlson swinging with a nasty slider to complete the inning.

Boyd generated seven whiffs with one four-seam fastball, one slider, four changeups and one curveball.

“I like facing righties because I get to use all four pitches,” Boyd said.

At the plate

The Tigers’ offense ended the inning with ground-ball double plays in the first, second and fourth. Third baseman Andy Ibáñez, who returned to the lineup from a left finger sprain for his first game since March 1, hit into two of them.

Ibáñez finished 0-for-3 with one strikeout.

“I need to talk to the trainer,” Hinch said, “but if all passes as I expect it would, then he will head to Miami from here and should be with Team Cuba tomorrow (for the World Baseball Classic).”

COACH MIGGY?: Venezuela manager Omar López reveals how Miguel Cabrera can transition from player to coach

A ‘COMFORTABLE’ JAVY: Can World Baseball Classic help Javier Báez energize Tigers in 2023?

Along with Torkelson, the Tigers received hits from Kerry Carpenter, Eric Haase, César Hernández, Ryan Kreidler, Michael Papierski and Zack Short. After Torkelson’s home run in the fifth, Haase ripped a double to left field but failed to score as the next three batters were retired: Hernández (groundout), Jermaine Palacios (strikeout and Carpenter (strikeout).

Both Torkelson and Haase collected two hits.

“The guys that had down years, there’s no way it happens again,” Torkelson said. “We’re too good to dwell on that year. Take it for what it is, learn from it, and I like where we’re at. Not looking too far down the road, but we’re in a good spot, we’re hammering balls, and we got a good energy around the offensive mindset that we rake.”

In the seventh, Hernández jumped all over a fastball down the middle for an RBI double to right field. The 32-year-old, who has seven doubles this spring, is hitting .313 with four walks and eight strikeouts in 13 games.

Then, Carpenter cut the Tigers’ deficit to 5-4 with an ensuing RBI single.

On the mound

Right-hander Beau Brieske, competing for a role in the Opening Day bullpen, pitched the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and one walk with two strikeouts, throwing 25 of 35 pitches for strikes.

Left-hander Tyler Alexander gave up three runs in the seventh inning. Carlson hit a two-run home run off an elevated 88 mph four-seam fastball, and Burleson tossed in an RBI double.

Those runs extended the Cardinals’ lead to 8-4.

NOTEBOOK: Andy Ibáñez cleared to play for Tigers, Will Vest fixing delivery on backfields

Right-hander Kervin Castro tossed a scoreless eighth inning.

He struck out two batters.

Three stars

1. Torkelson; 2. Haase; 3. Boyd.

Next up

Sunday (1:05 p.m.) vs. Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach.

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

Articles You May Like

Roster construction 2.0: Tigers might find more punch by keeping extra lefty hitters
Henning: Tigers are better in 2023 — and Scott Harris is a factor
Tigers talk shift changes
Detroit Tigers prospect Jackson Jobe to miss 3-6 months with lumbar spine inflammation
Each team’s prospect with the best fastball

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *