Tigers 6, Cardinals 5: Five straight for the battle cats

Bless You Boys

Spencer Turnbull was pretty erratic again, but the Detroit Tigers are playing some relentless baseball right now, and they would not be denied. They came back twice in this one, and eventually won in 10 innings courtesy of a huge Akil Baddoo RBI double.

This is really fun.

The Tigers looked to feast on veteran Adam Wainwright as he made his season debut, but it wasn’t happening early. Javier Báez, getting a day off his feet at DH, stayed hot with a two-out single in the first, but Wainwright induced a soft tapper from Nick Maton to end the inning.

Spencer Turnbull had a shakier first inning. Lars Nootbar greeted him with a bunt single to third. Paul Goldschmidt struck out, but Willson Conteras dumped a single into left center field and Nootbar advanced to third. A desperate Cardinals fanbase was clearly amped for their club to get off to a big inning, but it wasn’t to be. Turnbull blew Nolan Arenado away with a good fourseamer and Alec Burleson grounded out to third to end the threat.

Wainwright set the Tigers down in order in the second, striking out Spencer Torkelson and Matt Vierling, while Akil Baddoo lined out to center field.

Turnbull walked Paul DeJong to open the bottom half and Brendan Donavan singled to left. One loopy slider without much tilt later, and Dylan Carlson made it 3-0 Cardinals with a blast to right field. Andrew Knizner followed this with a swinging bunt down the third base line. Maton didn’t really have a play and tried to let it roll foul, but it stayed true, bouncing off third base. Chris Fetter came out to have a chat and Turnbull settled down. Nootbar grounded into a force at second and Goldschmidt and Contreras struck out to end the inning.

Wainwright was looking pretty good at this point, and he struck out Haase and Zack Short in the third before getting Zach McKinstry to fly out to left. Wainwright’s fastball is just 88-89 mph at this point, but he was mixing slider, curveball, and changeup, and keeping them all on the edges. The Tigers couldn’t stop biting on them.

Turnbull settled in with a quick third with no hard contact, but the Tigers got a Maton single in the fourth and no more. Torkelson got a first pitch curveball that hung up a bit and tried to ambush Wainwright, but he got it off the end of the bat for a soft fly ball to left to end the half inning.

Turnbull again racked up a quick inning in the fourth, which he needed as his pitch count topped 70 with a short bullpen behind him. Riley Greene helped him out with a nice catch against the wall on a deep drive from Knizner to end the inning.

Akil Baddoo got the Tigers going in the top of the fifth by lining a single to right. Matt Vierling got jobbed by a terrible strike one call, but Wainwright dropped a 2-2 curveball for strike three on the inner edge and didn’t get the call as Baddoo stole second and the catcher Knizner’s catch and throw blocked the home plate umpire’s view. The Cardinals challenged the safe call on Baddoo, but it was basically a dead heat to the bag and not enough to overturn.

So from a potential strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out, to a runner on second and life in Vierling’s AB. Would they take advantage? Yes. Yes they would. Vierling lifted a fly ball to right field, allowing Baddoo to tag and advance to third, and Eric Haase dumped a single into left center to make it 3-1 Cardinals.

Zack Short followed with a hard ground ball down the left field line for a double, moving Haase to third, and the Tigers were suddenly in business with one out. McKinstry lifted a pop fly to shallow right field and second baseman Donovan and right fielder Nootbar collided on the play. Donovan held on, but Nootbar has the arm strength and the momentum toward home on that play. Haase bolted home and Donovan had little chance to throw him out. 3-2 Cardinals. Wainwright fell behind Riley Greene 3-1, and the center fielder lined a single the opposite way to score Short. Tie ball game.

These Tigers are pretty scrappy. Of course, they need to be.

Turnbull really needed a quick inning to make it beyond the fifth. He allowed a leadoff single to Nootbar, but bounced back to whiff Goldschmidt and Contreras with fourseamers, and that pitch looked to have its old life on it after an erratic start in Turnbull’s return from Tommy John. Unfortunately, Nolan Arenado had its number, recognizing the late cut. He got a 2-2 fastball and ripped it deep to left field for a two-run shot that ended Turnbull’s day and made it 5-3 Cardinals.

That’s the third homer off the fourseam fastball this season. Only than in 2019, hitters have never hit more than one home run off a Turnbull fourseamer in a season.

Chasen Shreve came on to end the inning, and then the Tigers’ offense got back to work.

Maton led off the sixth with a double to right field, and Torkelson sprayed a grounder through the right side of the infield to score him. 5-4 Cardinals, and the game was afoot. Old friend Drew VerHagen took over from Wainwright facing Akil Baddoo after a Wainwright pitch clock violation on Baddoo started the AB 0-1. Baddoo did move Tork to second with a ground ball to first. Vierling also slapped a grounder to first to move Baddoo to third, and Eric Haase drew a walk, but Shorty struck out to end the threat.

Shreve needed a good outing, and he got it, racking up three quick outs in the bottom of the sixth. He froze Knizner with a perfectly located fastball on the corner for strike three to end the inning.

The Cardinals started with lefty Genesis Cabrera on the mound in the seventh. Riley Greene singled with one out, and Báez followed with a walk. A.J. Hinch pulled Wolfie with a lefty on the mound, going with Jonathan Schoop, no doubt to the joy of Tigers’ fans. That led Oli Marmol to switch to right-hander Chris Stratton for the platoon matchup. Schoop hit it hard, but right to Nootbar in right field on a line. However, Torkelson followed with a line drive single to left to score Greene, and we were tied at five. Unfortunately, Báez took a big turn around second base and the Cardinals cut the relay and fired to second to pick him off before he could get back, ending the threat. Still, pretty scrappy. Good stuff.

Rather than sticking with Shreve against the left-handed Nootbar, Will Vest took over in the bottom of the seventh. Either way, Vest did fine. He walked Nootbar, but got Goldie to ground into a 4-6 double play. A squirrel ran across the infield before taking refuge behind the tarps during the inning, and a premature rally squirrel boded poorly for the home team. Contreras bounced a soft tapper back to Vest for the final out of the inning.

Stratton struck out Baddoo and then induced a routine grounder from Vierling in the top of the eighth. Haase reached on a swinging strike three than got away from Knizner, but Short struck out to end the inning.

Vest’s pitch count was still in decent shape, and he racked up a pair of ground balls to Schoop to start the bottom of the eighth. However, he then walked DeJong, and A.J. Hinch came out to get him. Tyler Holton took over, and Marmol countered with right-handed hitter Tommy Edman. Holton walked him, and Dylan Carlson turned around to hit right-handed, flying out to right field to end the inning.

The Cardinals sent right-hander Giovanny Gallegos to take over from Chris Stratton in the top of the ninth. Andy Ibáñez greeted him with an opposite field single, and the Tigers were in business. Riley Greene followed by ripping a double to right field, moving Ibáñez to third. Báez was hacking first pitch and got a bit of a hanging slider but popped out. Schoop lifted a shallow fly ball in foul territory down the right field line, and Nootbar got there in time. Unfortunately Ibáñez tagged and tried to score. Nootbar throws really well and he was out by a country mile, as they say. Bad send, or a bad decision by Ibáñez as the Tigers ran themselves out of an inning for the second time in this one.

Holton got Juan Yepez, hitting for Knizner, on a fly out to start the bottom of the ninth, but Nootbar followed with an infield single that Zack Short made a nice play on, bare-handing the little swinging bunt and firing to first just a hair too late. The Tigers called on Jose Cisnero, and he walked Goldschmidt on four straight pitches. Unplanned, but not the worst idea. Contreras popped up Contreras on an 0-2 slider, and needed one more out to send this to extras. He got it, as Arenado flew out to end the inning.

Schoop started on second in the tenth. Torkelson grounded out, but Akil Baddoo drilled a double the opposite way to score Schoop. 6-5 Tigers. Vierling grounded one to Arenado at third that he couldn’t handle, taking the E5. That left it to Haase and Short, but the former popped out on the infield, and the latter struck out.

Big, big hit for Baddoo who is swinging the bat much better of late.

Arenado started the inning at second, and was erased as Alec Burleson ripped a sharp grounder to Torkelson at first. Tork fired to third, cutting down Arenado, and then DeJong popped out. The Tigers were one out from a fifth consecutive victory. They got it, as Cisnero induced a ground ball from Nolan Gorman for the final out.

That is five straight y’all. Eat ‘em up Tigers!

Really good games for Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, and particularly Akil Baddoo, who has heated up recently. Some good defense, a couple of poor decisions overcome, and a gutsy performance from a taxed Tigers’ bullpen.

RHP Alex Faedo will be recalled from Toledo to start Sunday’s game against LHP Steven Matz, who is off to a really rough start. The Tigers will look for the sweep at 2:15 p.m. ET

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