Detroit Tigers’ Matt Vierling explains ‘honest mistake’ on bases in recent one-run loss

Detroit Free Press

TORONTO — Matt Vierling didn’t slide.

He thought he heard the crack of the bat while trying to steal second base in the sixth inning Wednesday at Rogers Centre. The Detroit Tigers‘ newcomer, acquired in an offseason trade, planned to either hold up at second base or run to third base.

Two problems: Nick Maton never swung his bat, and Vierling never looked toward home plate to double check what he thought he heard. It was a mental mistake. He slowed down — without sliding into second base — as the Toronto Blue Jays threw him out easily to end the inning.

“It was an honest mistake,” Vierling said Thursday. “I screwed up. It’s on me. It was a weird thing. I thought I heard something that wasn’t. I read it like that and ended up standing up. I was kind of kicking myself. You got to slide.”

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Every opportunity mattered in Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays on a walk-off single in the 11th inning.

The Tigers threw away two opportunities on the bases in back-to-back plays in the sixth inning. (Before Vierling’s blunder, Eric Haase was thrown out trying to advance to from second base to third base on a hard-hit ground ball to the shortstop.)

“Guys don’t run to second and don’t slide,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday, “so you’ll have to talk to him.”

“It was horrible,” Vierling said. “It sucks. But look, I’m going to own it. I’m going to keep being aggressive. I talked to A.J. about it. We’re in a good spot. I’m going to keep on going and put it behind me.”

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Vierling told Hinch it wouldn’t happen again.

Hinch believes him.

In the first inning Wednesday, Tigers executed a perfect relay — from right fielder Vierling to second baseman Maton to catcher Haase — and threw out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. trying to score from first base on a double to the gap in right-center field. That play ended the inning.

“He’s as good as they come fundamentally,” Hinch said Thursday. “His game awareness is usually really good. These guys aren’t perfect. They’re not going to be perfect. But these are the type of plays we have to clean up to play a better brand of baseball and give ourselves better chances.”

Vierling wasn’t in the starting lineup Thursday, but through nine games this season, he is hitting .257 with one home run, three walks and 10 strikeouts. He has been successful in one of his four stolen base attempts with the Tigers.

He has 10 steals in 17 attempts in his 160-game career.

“Those kind of things, when they do happen, which they do every once in a while, I tell myself that’s not really me as a player,” Vierling said. “It’s a long year. I’m going to keep pushing, keep doing what I’m doing, keep being the player that I am, and if stuff like that does happen, just own it.”

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But Vierling’s inexcusable mistake on the bases was one many lapses by the Tigers in Wednesday’s loss. Haase ran into an out on the bases in the sixth inning. An obstruction call on third baseman Ryan Kreidler gifted a run to the Blue Jays in the fourth inning. Reliever Trey Wingenter, who couldn’t throw strikes, squandered a two-run advantage in the ninth inning.

Simply put, a lot is going wrong for the 2-9 Tigers.

“We’re just trying to find our footing,” Vierling said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and some new guys on the team. It’s been a tough go lately, but once we get a little momentum and get something going, things will be in a good spot. We got a good team when we’re doing things right.”

Trevor Rosenthal has arm soreness

Right-handed reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who signed a minor-league contract in spring training, hasn’t pitched for Triple-A Toledo since April 4. The 32-year-old was placed on the temporarily inactive list April 7 because he is working through arm soreness, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

It’s unclear when Rosenthal will return. Before the injury, the hard-throwing reliever allowed one run on two hits and three walks with one strikeout in two innings for the Mud Hens.

He underwent thoracic outlet surgery in April 2021, then season-ending hip surgery in July 2021. A hamstring strain sidelined him for almost the entire 2022 season (aside from two innings at the Triple-A level).

Rosenthal, an All-Star in 2015 with the St. Louis Cardinals, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2020. That year, he posted a 1.90 ERA with eight walks and 38 strikeouts in 23⅔ innings across 23 games for the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres.

Miggy honored in Toronto

Before Thursday’s series finale, Miguel Cabrera received a gift from the Blue Jays to commemorate his final season and his 500th home run. Guerrero and Victor Martínez, a former teammate, presented the framed photos to him on the field.

Cabrera, who turns 40 in five days, hit homer No. 500 at Rogers Centre in Toronto during the 2021 season.

Martínez is a special assistant with the Blue Jays.

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

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