Missed opportunities came back to haunt the Detroit Tigers.
Four runs weren’t enough to win.
The Tigers, despite drawing a season-high 10 walks, went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 runners in a 7-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in Monday’s series opener at Comerica Park. Left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve melted down in the seventh inning and gave up five runs.
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With the loss, the Tigers (9-15) have dropped four straight games against the Orioles in the past week. The Orioles swept the Tigers at Camden Yards over the weekend, limiting the Tigers to three runs in three games.
The Tigers had an opportunity to break Monday’s game open with one out in the sixth inning. They scored one run but stranded the bases loaded. Facing left-handed reliever Cionel Pérez, Matt Vierling (hit-by-pitch), Zach McKinstry (walk) and Riley Greene (walk) reached safely. That’s when Orioles manager Brandon Hyde turned to righty reliever Bryan Baker.
Spencer Torkelson flied out, and although the ball traveled 240 feet to left field, it didn’t go far enough to score a speedy Vierling from third base. Nick Maton worked a four-pitch walk, increasing the Tigers’ lead to 4-2, but Tyler Nevin struck out looking at a perfectly executed sixth-pitch slider.
The Tigers, trailing 7-4, put their first two runners on base with walks in the bottom of the ninth inning. Orioles closer Félix Bautista struck out Miguel Cabrera, walked Vierling to load the bases and struck out Jonathan Schoop. Jake Rogers struck out swinging to end the game.
Cabrera finished 0-for-5 and is hitting .184 in 14 games this season.
After a frustrating sixth inning, the Tigers handed the ball to Shreve, a left-handed reliever, with a two-run lead in the top of the seventh. The Orioles created a scoring opportunity and didn’t let off the gas pedal.
Shreve threw 26 pitches, recorded two outs and allowed five runs on four hits and one walk. Anthony Santander delivered the knock-out punch with a 414-foot two-run home run off Shreve’s 89.5 mph fastball.
The fastball was thrown over the heart of the plate.
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The five-run inning, which put the Orioles ahead 7-4, started with back-to-back hits from Adam Frazier (single) and Ryan McKenna (double). The next three batters scored one run apiece: Joey Ortiz (sacrifice fly), Cedric Mullins (triple) and Adley Rutschman (sacrifice fly).
Then, Shreve walked Ryan Mountcastle on six pitches.
The free pass led to Santander’s two-out, two-run home run. Right-handed reliever Will Vest replaced Shreve — after he faced seven batters — and completed the seventh inning. He needed two pitches to retire Ramón Urías.
Joey Wentz bounce back
In his last start, left-hander Joey Wentz struggled against the Orioles.
This time, the 25-year-old shined.
Wentz gave up two runs on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts, throwing 60 of 86 pitches for strikes. He nearly escaped the fifth inning without damage, but Ortiz — in his MLB debut — hit a two-out, two-strike fastball over the outstretched glove of first baseman Spencer Torkelson.
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The chopper from Ortiz resulted in two runs, trimming the Tigers’ lead to 3-2
Wentz returned for the sixth inning and surrendered a leadoff single to Rutschman. Ryan Mountcastle would have put the Orioles ahead on the scoreboard, but right fielder Kerry Carpenter robbed him of a home run for the second out.
Carpenter injured his shoulder on the play.
Wentz retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced before Jorge Mateo’s one-out single in the Orioles’ two-run fifth inning.
His fastball averaged 93.9 mph, and his changeup — which he threw 17 times — generated five whiffs on nine swings. Three fastballs and one cutter were responsible for his other four whiffs.
The Tigers scored their first three runs in the second and third innings against right-hander Kyle Gibson. Gibson, who struck out 11 batters over the weekend, wasn’t as sharp in Round 2 against the Tigers. He allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 4⅓ innings.
In the second inning, the Tigers took a 1-0 advantage when Jonathan Schoop grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. McKinstry, the next batter, popped out to end the inning.
Three quality plate appearances with two outs in the third inning — Maton (walk), Carpenter (double) and Eric Haase (single) — led to the next two runs, and a 3-0 lead. Maton and Carpenter scored on Haase’s ground ball back up the middle and into center field.
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.