Tigers’ Torkelson laughs off stare-down with Royals pitcher: ‘His fault I struck out’

Detroit News

Kansas City – It looked worse on TV than it was in real life. What it looked like on television was that Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson and Royals’ pitcher Mike Mayers had some history. Bad history, like the way Javier Báez and Amir Garrett have history.

“No, none,” Torkelson said.

Mayers punched out Torkelson in the fourth inning Tuesday on three straight sliders. It may have been as bad as Torkelson has been beaten in a single at-bat this year. The cameras caught Torkelson glaring out at Mayers as he walked back to the dugout.

Then the cameras panned to Mayers and he was glaring right back. It wasn’t clear if any words passed between them. Of course, there were full narratives already flying around Twitter. None were true. Any words Torkelson may have used were muttered to himself.

“When you strike out, you are never happy,” Torkelson explained before the game Wednesday. “And of course it’s not my fault I struck out. It’s his.”

Torkelson broke out laughing.

“So you’re going to not like him for a few minutes,” he said. “But that was pretty much it.”

You struck out and it was his fault.

“Yep, pretty much,” Torkelson said, laughing. “It’s always the pitcher’s fault.”

Still doing it

The Tigers’ broadcast team features a couple of former outfielders in Craig Monroe and Cameron Maybin and, once in a while, they become comedic foils for manager AJ Hinch in his pre-game media sessions.

The topic Wednesday was Royals’ center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., who at age 33 is a plus-5 defensive runs saved this season. He made two sensational catches that saved three runs on Monday night.

“Like, you’re supposed to lose your range,” Hinch said. “It happened to C-Mo (Monroe). It happened to Cam.”

Woah.

“You better stop that,” Maybin said, with a smile. “I still got range.”

Hinch’s point is well-taken, though. At age 33, Bradley, Jr., seems to be aging in reverse defensively.

“He’s still doing it,” Hinch said. “This is a big outfield, too. He takes a lot of pride in his defense.”

Hinch pointed out the route-efficiency charts teams use. Two lines are plotted on a chart – one shows the most efficient route and the other shows the route the fielder took on a particular play.

“You look at it and the lines are right on top of one another,” he said. “Instinctually, he’s just a really good outfielder. Guys like (Toronto’s) Kevin Kiermaier and Jackie are like that. Cam was like that. When a ball is hit out to them, I just put my head down and write F-8. I just expect them to catch it.”

Consistent relief

Lefty reliever Tyler Holton took over for Eduardo Rodriguez Tuesday and gave the Tigers three efficient and scoreless innings. He needed just 40 pitches to get nine outs, which not only saves Hinch from having to spend another reliever or two, but Holton won’t have to be down too long between outings.

That’s been the trend most of this season.

The bullpen took a 13.1-inning scoreless streak into the game Wednesday. Since April 15, the Tigers’ pen has the lowest ERA in the game (2.55 in 120 innings). It’s 1.10 WHIP is second in baseball and tops in the American League.

Alex Lange and Chasen Shreve have not allowed a run this month. Jason Foley and Jose Cisnero have allowed one run this month.

“The best thing they do collectively is throw strikes,” Hinch said. “That doesn’t mean they’re always going to throw strikes. They’re going to walk a guy here and there and have a rough outing here and there. But they do come in and throw strikes.

“That gets you into leverage and leverage leads to outs.”

Around the horn

Javier Báez brought 12 bats on this trip. With one game left, he’d broken six of them. He might need to order a new batch of wood.

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

ON DECK

White Sox at Tigers

Series: Four games at Comerica Park

First pitch: Thursday-Friday – 6:40 p.m.; Saturday – 1:10 p.m.; Sunday – 1:45 p.m.

TV/radio: Thursday − BSD/97.1; Friday – Apple TV/97.1/1270; Saturday-Sunday – BSD/97.1/1270

Probables: Thursday – RHP Lucas Giolito (3-3, 3.62) vs. RHP Alex Faedo (0-2, 4.60); Friday – RHP Lance Lynn (3-5, 6.28) vs. LHP Joey Wentz (1-4, 7.45); Saturday – TBA vs. RHP Michael Lorenzen (2-2, 4.08); Sunday – RHP Dylan Cease (3-3, 4.60) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-4, 2.19).

Giolito, White Sox: He’s having a good month, allowing eight runs over 25 innings in four starts with 26 strikeouts and six walks. He’s holding hitters to a .217 batting average this month. Seems like his slider is now his secondary pitch of choice, over his changeup. Opponents are hitting .191 with a 34% whiff rate against it.

Faedo, Tigers: His last start in Washington was both encouraging and worrisome. Encouraging because his fastball was electric for four innings, sitting at 94 mph and hitting 96, with exceptional ride through the zone. He got 10 called strikes with it. The worrisome part, he’s not been able to sustain it two and three times through the order. He gave up three runs and four hits in the fourth and fifth innings.

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