How a savvy veteran play turned into a harsh lesson for Tigers rookie Englert

Detroit News

Cleveland — The lessons don’t stop in this game.

Tigers rookie Mason Englert looked like a poised and polished veteran on Friday night, striking out the Cardinals’ Nolan Gorman with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, preserving a one-run lead.

On Sunday, he looked, well, like a rookie.

He inherited runners at first and second in the sixth. The Tigers had just taken a 6-3 lead in the top of the inning. Englert centered his focus on the first hitter he had to face — the ever-dangerous Nolan Arenado.

But he didn’t pay a lick of attention to the base runners. Veteran Paul Goldschmidt (off second base) and Gorman (off first base) got running leads and pulled off an uncontested double-steal.

“Pretty savvy base-running by Paul Goldschmidt to put pressure on a young pitcher,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “Immediately coming in, having done his homework and rightfully assuming Englert was entirely focused on the batter.”

The inning completely got away from the Tigers. Three errors contributed to a seven-run outburst. Englert got tagged for a three-run homer by Brendan Donovan. But, fair to note that after the double-steal, Arenado hit a ground ball to shortstop. Javier Baez ended up booting it, but it’s a different play for him if the runners were still on first and second.

“But, that is this level; that is the big leagues,” Hinch said. “Those are small gains that turn into big plays. Had we controlled the runners at that point, who knows how that inning goes? It spiraled out of control when we lost the leverage of being able to get a force out at a couple of bases.”

After the double-steal, Hinch said, he had to alter his infield defense, bringing them in instead of playing for a double play. The pitch selection changes. Arenado’s focus changes. It wasn’t a small oversight by Englert, but it was a big lesson.

“We will always have lessons coming out of these outings for Englert,” Hinch said. “Whether it’s the first night, where he gets the big strikeout or yesterday, where things got tough.”

What’s next, Faedo?

Hinch wasn’t ready to disclose his pitching plan for the weekend series against the Mariners at Comerica Park. So, it’s uncertain whether Alex Faedo will remain in the rotation, work out of the bullpen or go back to Toledo.

“We haven’t completely decided what the rotation is going to be like for the weekend,” Hinch said. “I will say, though, Alex threw the ball very well, exactly how he did in Triple-A — Goldschmidt notwithstanding.”

Faedo allowed three hits and three runs in 4.2 innings. Only two of those runs were earned and they came on a pair of solo home runs by Goldschmidt. He didn’t issue a single walk.

“I think he did a nice job to make a solid case to stay in the rotation,” Hinch said.

At issue, though, is three off days coming up. The Tigers will be off Thursday, next Monday and then Thursday, May 18. The Tigers could stick to four starters over that stretch. Hinch said he would announce his plans before the end of this series.

Around the horn

… Outfielder Kerry Carpenter (shoulder) was eligible to come off the injured list Monday, but that’s not going to happen before he gets a rehab stint at Toledo. Hinch referred questions on Carpenter’s status to the club’s twice-weekly injury update, which will be released Tuesday. The expectation is that Carpenter will join the Mud Hens by this weekend. They are in the midst of a two-week road trip to Iowa City and Omaha.

Jake Rogers went into Monday’s game leading American League catchers with a plus-5 rating in defensive runs saved, per Sports Info Solutions. His contact-to-damage ratio at the plate is also pretty good. Of his 12 hits, seven are extra-base hits (three doubles and four homers).

…Former Tigers’ catcher Grayson Greiner announced his retirement from baseball. He played parts of five big-league seasons, four with the Tigers (2018-2021). He’s been bothered the last couple of season with back injuries.

Tigers at Guardians

First pitch: 6:10 p.m., Progressive Field, Cleveland

TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit, 97.1

TV/Radio: Bally Sports Detroit, 97.1.

Scouting report:

RHP Michael Lorenzen (1-1, 5.14), Tigers: He is coming off his best start of the season, going seven strong innings (one run, four hits) against the Mets. His strike percentage was 69, which was a big step forward. He also simplified his pitch mix, cutting down his repertoire from seven pitches to essentially four. It helped his pace and helped him stay in attack mode.

RHP Shane Bieber (2-1, 2.96), Guardians: He’s coming off two impressive road starts, allowing two runs in seven innings in Boston and then two runs in eight innings against the Yankees in the Bronx. Some of the underlying numbers don’t look as good. His strikeout rate is way down (16.6%), he’s not getting much swing-and-miss on his slider and cutter and he’s giving up a lot of hard contact (48.6% hard-hit rate, 93 mph average exit velocity).

Twitter: @cmccosky

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