Milwaukee — The win for the Tigers on get-away day Wednesday was that shortstop Javier Báez isn’t likely to need time on the injured list.
“No, I’m good,” he said after the Tigers were beaten in the series finale by the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-2. “Maybe I will need one day, but I should be good.”
Báez, who came into the game riding a 10-game hitting streak, hitting a robust .378 in that stretch, got drilled in his left hand by a 93-mph fastball from Brewers’ starter Freddy Peralta in the first inning. He was in considerable pain.
BOX SCORE: Brewers 6, Tigers 2
“It definitely hit me, but I think my bat got struck, too,” Báez said. “It’s right where I hold my bat. It got me mostly in the meat (of the hand). I knew I was good (no fractures), I just needed to let the pain go away. I wanted to go to first base.”
That wasn’t going to happen. Báez was sent into the clubhouse for X-rays. They came back negative and the Tigers are calling it a left-hand contusion.
Tough way for a hit streak to end. Tough way to try to navigate a game for manager AJ Hinch. Tough way to end a road trip.
“I feel like we’re getting better every single day,” first baseman Spencer Torkelson said. “I mean, tip your cap to Peralta today. He threw the ball really well and didn’t make many mistakes. But we never felt like we were out of it. We were a couple of hits away from making it a one-run ballgame, and then it’s a totally different day.”
Tigers starter Michael Lorenzen’s day started about as poorly as Báez’s. He hit Christian Yelich and walked his former Reds teammate Jesse Winker to start his outing. Rowdy Tellez ripped an RBI double and Brian Anderson poked a two-run single — six batters, three runs in a 30-pitch first inning.
“I was just working against my body the entire start,” said Lorenzen, who is no fan of 12:40 (Central Time) starts. “Just trying to wake my body up, trying to get my arm to keep up with it. There was a battle going on there the entire start — just trying to get my arm moving and in sync with my body today.
“There’s no excuse. I have to figure it out.”
He pitched out of a bases-load mess in the second but gave up a two-run homer to Victor Caratini on a first-pitch cutter over the heart of the plate.
“Caratini is usually pretty patient,” Lorenzen said. “I gave him a pretty good pitch thinking he was going to take it. He put a really good swing on it, which was a bummer.”
Lorenzen settled in and dispatched eight of the final nine hitters he faced through five innings. But he was at 100 pitches and his day was over. And the fatal damage was done.
“Michael has to trust himself a little more early in counts like he did as the game went along,” Hinch said. “He got into trouble early and wasn’t pitching efficiently. It’s a frustrating start for him because command of the strike zone on his good days is really good and today he had to grind a little bit.”
It was a grind for the Tigers’ hitters, too. Peralta was expertly mixing four pitches, a firm four-seam fastball, slider, changeup and a big, floppy curveball. They managed just one brief flurry against him in the fourth inning and it was triggered by a Brewers error.
Right fielder Anderson misplayed Nick Maton’s fly ball to the warning track in right-center. Peralta got the next two outs before Akil Baddoo came through in an 0-2 count, slapping an opposite-field RBI double down the line in right.
He scored on the next pitch, a single to left by Jake Rogers.
The two unearned runs was all Peralta yielded with eight strikeouts in six innings. And, despite Hinch’s best efforts to create favorable matchups, the Tigers didn’t dent a quartet of relievers, either.
He ended up using three different shortstops — Zach McKinstry, Maton and Jonathan Schoop. Matt Vierling moved from the outfield to third base and then to second base. All the moves were a result of Hinch trying to create matchup advantages at the plate and generate offense.
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“Defensive alignments don’t really matter when you’re losing,” he said. “You’re trying to find as many guys to get up there and match them up as best you can.”
Baddoo doubled again in the seventh against right-hander Bryse Wilson and was on third with two outs. Brewers manager Craig Counsell brought in lefty Hoby Milner to face left-handed hitting McKinstry.
Hinch countered with right-handed swinging Eric Haase. Advantage Tigers. Haase drove a ball deep to the wall in right field that was caught.
In the eighth inning, Schoop lined a one-out double. With Milner still pitching, Hinch sent up right-handed hitting Tyler Nevin to bat for Maton. As Hinch expected, Counsell countered with righty Peter Strzelecki.
“I hit Nevin against the lefty and they bring in righty,” Hinch said. “But we still had (left-handed hitting Kerry) Carpenter on-deck.”
Nevin was punched out on three pitches and Carpenter grounded out.
“We needed a big blow to get back in it,” Hinch said. “We needed a crooked number and we didn’t find it.”
It feels like two steps forward and one back for the Tigers, who come home from the 2-4 road trip with a 9-14 record.
“No,” Torkelson said. “It’s two steps forward and no steps back. We’re always getting better. I love where we’re at. We won a series. If we just keep doing that we’re going to be in a good spot.”