Trea Turner spoils Joey Wentz’s start in Detroit Tigers’ 4-1 loss to Philadelphia Phillies

Detroit Free Press

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1, in the first of Thursday’s split-squad games at BayCare Ballpark.

The Tigers are 12-16 in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

Facing left-hander Bailey Falter, the Tigers failed to get their offense going through the first five innings. Falter allowed two hits — without a walk — and struck out five batters in his outing.

The Tigers didn’t score until right-handed reliever Erich Uelmen took over in the sixth inning.

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Left-hander Joey Wentz allowed three runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts across four-plus innings in his final start of spring training. The 25-year-old could join the starting rotation for Opening Day, but his status depends on the health of Michael Lorenzen.

The Tigers scratched Lorenzen from Monday’s start with a mild left groin strain.

There will be an update on Lorenzen’s health Friday.

“He’s going to be a big part of our team,” Wentz said. “We want him out there. If he happens to be down — and I don’t know if he will be or not — I feel ready. I feel like I can compete at this level and get guys out.”

Starting off

In the fifth inning, Wentz walked the first batter before Trea Turner — coming off five home runs for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic — hit an elevated cutter for a two-run home run.

“Pretty good player,” Wentz said.

The Phillies took a 3-0 lead.

“I’m kinda pissed off about the end,” Wentz said. “I would have liked to finish the outing stronger than a two-run homer.”

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Wentz threw 47 of 75 pitches for strikes and looked sharp until Turner rocked his above-the-strike-zone cutter over the wall in left field. He used all four pitches to generate 13 swings and misses: five fastballs, five cutters, two curveballs and one changeup.

“He’s got some swing-and-miss stuff,” Tigers bench coach George Lombard said. “It’s really fun. I thought he threw the ball well and was one pitch away from having his best outing of spring. But a lot of good things. It was his best outing.”

In the first inning, Kyle Schwarber doubled off Wentz’s first-pitch fastball and scored on a two-out single from Rhys Hoskins. The pair of hits put the Phillies ahead 1-0, but Wentz responded by striking out Nick Castellanos to end the inning.

The first three batters in the Phillies’ lineup played for Team USA in the WBC: Turner, Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto. Turner hit .391 with five homers, 11 RBIs, two walks and five strikeouts in six games. (Hoskins, playing first base, was carted off the field with a non-contact injury to his left knee trying to field a ground ball in the second inning.)

“It was cool for the fans to appreciate what those guys did,” Lombard said. “Everyone’s eyes went to watching the World Baseball Classic. You couldn’t turn it off. I was missing a lot of sleep because I was up late watching those games and trying to bounce back for morning workouts. But Joey did a nice job.”

Wentz’s fastball averaged 93.3 mph, while his cutter averaged 85.6 mph.

His cutter maxed out at 88.8 mph.

“Ideally, I would prefer it up toward 88 (mph) more than 83 (mph),” Wentz said. “I know when I got out of the stretch it was a little slower. I guess it depends if I’m trying to land it (in the strike zone) or be more aggressive, but I would like it to be a little harder.”

At the plate

Andre Lipcius sparked the Tigers’ first and only run with a leadoff single in the sixth inning. The 24-year-old, previously optioned to Triple-A Toledo, lined a first-pitch sinker into right field.

Lipcius advanced to third base on a wild pitch (and Ball 4 to Zack Short) from Uelmen. Javier Báez, who finished 1-for-3 with one strikeout, scored him on a grounder back to the pitcher for a single.

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The Tigers had four hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts, including two in the ninth inning.

Austin Meadows went 1-for-2 with one walk and one strikeout.

On the mound

Right-hander Garrett Hill replaced Wentz and pitched two scoreless innings. After the fifth inning, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch left the ballpark to manage the evening split-squad game against the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota.

“He saw Joey throw and then he took off to get that other group started,” Lombard said. “Once we got him out of there, that’s when we scored a run. That’s what (pitching coach Chris) Fetter and I were talking about.”

The 27-year-old struck out Schwarber and Realmuto to begin his outing, but he later walked two batters and gave up one hit. He threw 23 of 39 pitches for strikes and primarily mixed his fastball and slider.

Hill escaped trouble in the sixth inning when catcher Jake Rogers picked off Marsh at first base.

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Left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve, a strong candidate to make the roster, allowed one run in the seventh inning on a walk (to ex-Tiger John Hicks) and a double. Both plate appearances were with two outs.

Right-handed reliever Alex Lange put two runners on base — a hit and a walk — but struck out two batters for a scoreless eighth inning. Lange has eight walks and eight strikeouts across six innings in spring training.

“I thought Lange was really free and easy for the first time,” Lombard said. “But it was fun to see Hill. We know he’s got the arm and stuff like that. It hasn’t been quite where he wants it to be, but it was nice to see him bounce back.”

Three stars

1. Wentz; 2. Rogers; 3. Meadows.

Next up

Friday (6:05 p.m.) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates in Lakeland.

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

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