Walks come back to haunt pitchers.
The Detroit Tigers learned that lesson — again — in the second inning of Saturday’s 14-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park, as left-handed starter Joey Wentz walked four batters, including three in a row and two with the bases loaded, before manager A.J. Hinch pulled him and turned to the bullpen.
Righty reliever Garrett Hill immediately gave up a grand slam to Rafael Devers. The big fly put the Tigers behind, 6-0, on the scoreboard, and although the Tigers scored a couple runs, they were never close to mounting a comeback.
It was an embarrassing blowout.
A $7.5 MILLION SITUATION: Playing time has declined. How long will Tigers keep Jonathan Schoop on roster?
Second baseman Zach McKinstry, who finished 0-for-3 with one walk at the plate, took the mound as a pitcher in the ninth inning, becoming the fifth position player to pitch in the 2023 MLB season, and struggled. Pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia put the Red Sox ahead 14-2 with a two-run home run.
The Tigers (2-6) have lost three straight games.
The downfall began in the second inning with a five-pitch walk to Masataka Yoshida. The Red Sox had two runners in scoring position with two outs when Wentz seemingly forgot how to throw strikes.
Enrique Hernandez walked on five pitches to load the bases.
Conor Wong walked on six pitches for a 1-0 lead.
Rob Refsnyder walked on seven pitches for a 2-0 lead.
After Refsnyder’s free pass, Hinch climbed the dugout steps, pointed to the bullpen and removed his starting pitcher from the game. Wentz, who recorded five whiffs and five called strikes, tossed 11 pitches in a perfect first inning, then 36 pitches in a miserable second inning.
Hill paid the price for Wentz’s mistakes.
He fell behind in the count to Devers, a two-time All-Star, and surrendered a grand slam to left field on an 85 mph changeup executed in the down-and-away corner of the strike zone.
In the third inning, Hill learned the lesson — walks come back to haunt pitchers — for himself when he walked Yoshida on four pitches. The next batter, Adam Duvall, continued his scorching start to the season with a 423-foot two-run homer to left-center field.
The Tigers trailed, 8-0.
Wentz was charged with five earned runs in 1⅔ innings; Hill was charged with three earned runs in 3⅓ innings.
Hits keep on coming
Devers struck again in the seventh inning.
Facing left-hander Tyler Alexander, the 26-year-old unloaded on an up-and-in cutter for a solo home run to right field, putting the Red Sox ahead, 9-2. This time, he watched the ball fly and flipped his bat.
His home runs combined to travel 751 feet.
NEWCOMER WITH ENERGY: Nick Maton shows some bark and some bite for Tigers: ‘Everyone loves Wolfie’
CONTRASTING PERSONALITIES: Matt Vierling, Nick Maton on mission to help cultivate championship culture
Devers, who has 13 multi-homer games in his career, finished 2-for-4 with five RBIs.
The Red Sox scored their 14 runs on 12 hits and six walks while striking out three times. Yoshida, a 29-year-old who joined MLB from Japan in the offseason, led the way with three walks in five plate appearances.
Christian Arroyo, Wong and Refsynder delivered RBI singles in the eighth inning off Alexander, increasing Boston’s advantage to 12-2. Alexander completed three innings of four-run ball to get the Tigers through the eighth.
Sparks of life at the plate
The Tigers’ offense went quiet again for most of the game, besides the fourth and ninth innings.
The Tigers scored their first two runs in the fourth inning off Red Sox right-hander Tanner Houck, who completed five innings. Riley Greene set the table by working a leadoff walk, and Kerry Carpenter put runners on the corners with a one-out single.
Nick Maton received a full-count fastball up in the zone and shot the ball down the right-field line for an RBI double to score Greene. Spencer Torkelson followed with a sacrifice fly to score Carpenter.
Greene hit a two-run single with two outs in the ninth inning. Javier Báez should have grounded out to end the game, but he reached safely on a throwing error. The error let the Tigers’ fifth run cross home plate.
The Tigers struck out 10 times.