Boy, what a difference it makes when the Tigers face teams outside the AL East. After getting swept by the Orioles, the Tigers won the series opener in Milwaukee and looked to lock up the series in game 2. With a bit of power from Kerry Carpenter and another great night from the bullpen, they got it done, taking this one 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Here’s how it all went down.
AJ Hinch elected to bench as many lefties as he could against Brewers’ southpaw Eric Lauer, and it paid off as they worked at-bats and drove up his pitch count quickly while squaring up the ball with regularity. Some of that work to beat the Brewers pitching staff by attrition could give them an edge in the final game of the series if they can again knock the starter out early. Spencer Turnbull continues to struggle with his command post-Tommy John surgery, but he remained effectively wild in a shorter start.
Matt Vierling led off the game with a single, and Spencer Torkelson would put him on third with a two-out single, but he was stranded there on an inning-ending groundout from Tyler Nevin. Turnbull struggled to find the strike zone in his first inning, throwing only 9 of 22 pitches for strikes. Though he reached three ball counts on each of the four batters he faced in the inning, he allowed only a walk to Willy Adames.
After an eight pitch battle with Cabrera, which ended in a strikeout, Jonathan Schoop singled up the gap in left-center. Jake Rogers worked Lauer for an eight pitch walk to put two men on for Kerry Carpenter who turned around a 1-1 high fastball and put it in the Tigers bullpen in right field to give the Tigers an early 3-0 lead.
Báez followed with a two out double to the wall, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, and Haase hit a groundball deep in the hole at shortstop, which Adames had no play on to again put two men on. After a brief mound visit to check on Lauer’s pitching hand, Torkelson roped the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for an RBI single and a four run lead. Nevin flew out to end the inning.
Turnbull took the mound and fired a ten pitch 1-2-3 shutdown inning. Cabrera lead off the third inning where the Tigers left off in the second, with a long single off the wall (his 3096th hit), a hit a younger Cabrera walks into second on. Schoop followed with a walk and Lauer again found himself on the ropes. Rogers put a good swing on one (103.0 MPH EV) but hit it right at the center fielder for the first out. Kerry Carpenter battled for a bit but was called out on strikes. Vierling hit a rope to the left field corner but Christian Yelich ran it down to save a scoreless inning, but the Tigers had pushed Lauer’s pitch count up to 85 pitches and were squaring the ball up well.
The Brewers started the third inning with the softest of singles and a flare to put two runners on with no one out. A ball in the dirt got away from Rogers to suddenly put two in scoring position with no one out. Yelich hit a grounder to Baez but the runner on second took off for third and was an easy out, even though the run scored. Jesse Winker flew out to Carpenter for the second out, and Adames battled Turnbull for nine pitches to draw a walk. After a visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter, Turnbull retired Rowdy Tellez on four pitches to end the third inning, though the Brewers had pushed his pitch count up to 55.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell turned to Elvis Peguero in the fourth inning, and he managed to work a 1-2-3 inning, though Torkelson hit a rocket for the third out. Turnbull continued to battle with command of his slider and fastball as he walked William Contreras to start the inning. He did strikeout Brian Anderson next, but Brice Turang doubled to put two in scoring position with one out. Owen Miller grounded out to second to score the run and move the runner to third and Joey Weimer hit a ball to the warning track but Carpenter hauled it in to end the inning.
That would be the end of Turnbull’s night. It was brief, and his command eluded him often but he kept the Brewers from squaring him up. His final line was 4 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, and he threw 75 pitches, but only 42 for strikes.
Nick Maton pinch hit for Nevin to lead off the fifth inning with Lauer out of the game, but the Tigers went quietly in the fifth with three easy outs to hand things over to Tyler Alexander. The lefty responded with a 1-2-3 inning, the second out coming on a umm, generous, called strike, from home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The Tigers managed to put two on with two out in the sixth, thanks to singles from Vierling and Báez, but the rally fizzled out.
The Tigers’ lead got trimmed to one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, thanks to a Rowdy Tellez solo home run. Hinch decided to put in Mason Englert after that and he produced a quick three outs. Joel Payamps replaced Peguero, and Miggy’s single (his 3,097th hit) in the top of the seventh was the Tigers’ lone highlight at the dish in that half inning. Englert kept things rolling in the bottom of the seventh with a 1-2-3 inning. Vierling collected a two out single for his third hit of the night and stole second base with two outs to get into scoring position but was stranded there.
In the bottom of the eighth, Luke Voit lead off with a double and was lifted for a pinch runner, Blake Perkins. With the tying run standing on second, Englert got Adames and Tellez to strike out swinging. He continues to use the fastball only as a change of pace, and under Chris Fetter’s guidance has really turned heavily to the slider and changeup, his two best pitches. Hinch turned to Jason Foley to get the final out of the inning which he did by striking out Contreras. The Tigers went quietly in the top of the ninth, well except for another loud out from Torkelson, which brought things to the bottom of the ninth.
With the Tigers holding onto a one run lead, Hinch elected to stay with Foley due to Alex Lange having pitched the last two days. First up was Brian Anderson, who grounded out softly. Next up was Turang who struck out on a sinker away. Finally, Miller grounded out to Maton who threw to first to complete the out and secure the series win. Final score, 4-3 Tigers.
The Tigers are now 8-2 when facing non-AL East teams, 9-13 overall, and just a game behind the second place Cleveland Guardians in the division.