Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Wasted opportunities sink Detroit in home opener

Bless You Boys

The Tigers were in the driver’s seat early on in their home opener. Unfortunately, the bats went ice cold after the early innings and the Red Sox got to the Tigers’ bullpen to spoil the party by a score of 6-3.

Spencer Turnbull had a nifty first inning, using just nine pitches. For his part, Chris Sale’s outing began with a four pitch walk to Matt Vierling, and then he missed with four straight to Javy Báez as well. In total, Sale went 15 pitches before he managed to locate one in the zone, though Riley Greene did foul off several close ones, but Sale’s first called strike on a breaking ball froze Greene for strike three. Spencer Torkelson and Eric Haase both struck out swinging, and we had our first TTBDNS of the season in Comerica Park. Sale had burned 24 pitches in the process, but that was cold comfort.

Masataka Yoshida, who starred in Team Japan’s WBC title, led off the second with a swinging bunt single. However, Adam Duvall lined out to Eric Haase in left, and Triston Casas grounded one back to Turnbull and he started the 1-6-4 double play, with a nice scoop from Torkelson at first for emphasis.

With one out in the second, Jonathan Schoop drew the Tigers third walk of the day, and Sherriff Jake Rogers followed with a 106.4 mph rocket to left for his second homer of the season.

(ubiquitous comments about redeeming the Verlander trade)

Turnbull continued to show some post-Tommy John rust with some early wildness. He walked Christian Arroyo to open the third, and then Reese McGuire pulled a single through the right side to make it first and third with no outs. A chopper from Enrique Hernandez brought the run home, though a slick play from Báez got the lead runner rather than having to go to first with it. Hernandez runs too well to double up.

However, while Turnbull continued to fish wildly with changeups to Alex Verdugo, his pickoff game was on point. He spun and gunned a throw to Torkelson, who made a nice tag to send Hernandez back to the dugout in shame, and then Verdugo popped out to end the half inning.

Báez and Greene grounded out to start the third, but Torkelson ripped a two-out single to left and Eric Haase followed with one of his own down the line, though Haase appeared a little cautious in not taking second base. That brought up Cabrera with runners on first and third. He missed a 1-1 meatball from Sale, but then got a fastball in and smoked it on a line in center field to plate Torkelson. Schoop popped out to end the frame, but it was 3-1 Tigers.

Rafael Devers returned serve in the top of the fourth. A mediocre fastball down the middle got flicked over the left field wall. 3-2 Tigers. Turnbull then hit Justin Turner with a slider that sailed on him. He really looked to be steering everything early on, and interestingly was trying to use his changeup a lot to the lefties stacked against him.

Yoshida bounced one back to Báez, who stepped on second and one-hopped a throw to Torkelson for the double play. Adam Duvall popped out, and a potential big inning for the Sox was averted.

The Tigers went quietly in the bottom of the fourth as Sale really started locating his slider.

Triston Casas led off the fifth with a chopper that Turnbull deflected. A lightning fast adjustment from Báez got that ball picked, transferred, and fired to Torkelson, who again helped out with a nice pick. Arroyo flew out and then Turnbull froze McGuire with a nice curveball on the outer edge for strike three.

Sale had Báez and Greene flailing at sliders to open the bottom of the fifth with two strikeouts. Torkelson grounded one to Hernandez at shortstop, but the throw was low and Casas couldn’t handle it. That brought up Haase with two outs. An automatic ball started the at-bat as Sale failed to throw the first pitch in time, but he responded by punching Haase out anyway, sending us on to the sixth inning.

Turnbull still didn’t have a single whiff at this point, but he was efficient, starting the sixth at only 57 pitches thrown. Things got a little odd, as a Hernandez ground ball skipped right past Turnbull and he missed trying to stab at it. Kreidler handled it anyway and easily recorded the out, but Turnbull was in a crouch on the mound by then, holding his neck. He stretched out, took a few warm-up tosses, and A.J. Hinch was satisfied that he was alright.

Verdugo was up next and singled just past a diving Ryan Kreidler at second base. That brought up the very dangerous Rafael Devers again, and this time he crushed a poor 1-2 pitch off the new center field wall for an RBI triple. 3-3 ballgame.

Turnbull got Justin Turner to ground out for the second of the inning, but things still didn’t look right. Turnbull’s fastball velocity suddenly cratered to 90-91 mph against Yoshida, and he missed up repeatedly to issue a walk. Going to guess his neck locked up on him after tweaking it earlier. Hopefully.

Hinch had seen enough, and Jose Cisnero came on to try and escape the two-out jam. He failed quite miserably. Adam Duvall got a 2-2 heater on the outer edge belt high, and he cranked it over the left field wall. 6-3 Red Sox.

Old friend John Schreiber took the mound for the Sox in the bottom half. Miguel Cabrera drew a walk, and Hinch pinch-hit Nick Maton in for Schoop against Schreiber’s righty dominating stuff. It didn’t work out, as Maton pulled a hard grounder to first that Casas converted into a double play.

Cold comfort, but Cisnero did bounce back with a good seventh inning, picking up a strikeout to go with a pair of pop-ups.

Austin Meadows pinch hit for Ryan Kreidler to open the bottom of the seventh against right-hander Chris Martin. Meadows quickly grounded out, but Vierling followed him by drilling a line shot to right for a single. Báez got into a 1-2 count, then fouled off an absolute meatball of a slider before bouncing out. Vierling advanced to second, but there were two outs for Riley Greene. The Tigers’ center fielder completely whiffed on a pair of very hittable fastballs up and on the inner third, and then slapped a grounder for out number three. Frustrating.

Mason Englert took over in the eighth, with Meadows in right field, Maton moving to second base, and Matt Vierling moving to third base for the first time this season. Mr. Englert continued to impress with a quick 1-2-3 inning.

Ryan Brasier came in for Boston in the bottom of the eighth. Torkelson struck out, but Kerry Carpenter, pinch-hitting for Haase, lined a double into the left field corner. Unfortunately, Cabrera flew out on a line to center field, but Maton put together a really good AB and drew a walk. That left it up to Jake Rogers, but he flew out to right field.

Yoshida doubled into the right field corner to open the ninth against Englert, and the right-hander then walked Duvall. Triston Casas flew out to center, and Riley Greene made an ill-advised throw to third that was too high to be cut off, allowing Duvall to advance to second as Yoshida took third.

Englert was laboring a bit by this point, and so Hinch turned to Alex Lange to keep the score as it was and give them a chance at a comeback in the bottom of the ninth.

A ground ball from Arroyo to third saw Vierling throw home, trapping Yoshida in a rundown for the second out. Duvall oddly retreated back to second base in the process, nearly creating a second pickle as Arroyo had to jet back to first base. Lange then walked Reese McGuire on four straight pitches, bringing up Enrique Hernandez. Not good, but he flew out to left to send this to the bottom of the ninth.

Kenley Jansen didn’t have any trouble wrapping this one up, as the Tigers fell to a 2-5 start on the season.

The Duvall home run against Cisnero was the difference in this one, but the Tigers had a lot of scoring chances and plenty of hitters counts where they just swung through very hittable pitches. Riley Greene, Javy Báez, and Jonathan Schoop put together particularly noxious AB’s in this one.

After an off day on Friday, LHP Joey Wentz will take on RHP Tanner Houck on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET.

Best of Miggy’s final home opener

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