Joey Wentz, Detroit Tigers’ bats sputter almost equally in 8-3 loss to Phillies

Detroit Free Press

PHILADELPHIA — Aaron Nola took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

The Detroit Tigers looked completely helpless as another right-handed pitcher carved up their offense. The pitiful performance resembled the underwhelming results from the previous series in matchups with Chicago White Sox right-handers Mike Clevinger, Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech.

Nola couldn’t complete the no-hitter, thanks to Nick Maton’s three-run home run with two outs in the seventh inning, but the Tigers lost, 8-3, in the first of three games against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Tigers (26-32) have dropped four games in a row.

“He knows what he’s doing, and he doesn’t miss very much,” Maton said. “He was trying to expand the zone on us. Veteran pitchers are tough for young squads to zone in and really develop a plan against them. He’s a solid pitcher — he has been for a long time — and he was on his game tonight.”

DOMINANT DEBUT: Calm, in control and nasty: How Reese Olson pitched a gem in MLB debut with Tigers

TALKING TO EXPERTS: Doctors explain when Tigers’ Eduardo Rodriguez, Riley Greene could return from injuries

While the Tigers failed to get a hit, the Phillies crushed left-hander Joey Wentz for five runs on seven hits and five walks across 4⅔ innings, forcing him to throw a career-high 105 pitches. Trea Turner hit home runs in the third and fifth innings.

Wentz owns a 7.49 ERA in 12 starts this season.

“I threw horrible, not well,” Wentz said. “I misfired with two strikes quite a bit.”

Entering the seventh inning, the Tigers had scored just six runs in 41 innings since 22-year-old center fielder Riley Greene landed on the injured list, with three of those runs coming in the three-game series sweep by the White Sox.

But Maton — Nola’s former teammate — broke up the no-hitter and matched that weekend run total with one swing, with two outs and two strikes in the seventh. Nola refused to throw a fastball to Maton, but when he hung a fourth-pitch curveball in an 0-2 count, Maton didn’t miss his opportunity.

He flipped his bat and held his right hand in the air as he watched the ball fly.

“It’s no joke, everybody knows what they’re going to throw me,” Maton said. “But I was able to get to it, and I feel like I’ve been seeing it a lot better over these past couple weeks, as far as the curveballs and the offspeeds. I’ll keep on working every single day.”

Maton, hitting .167 in 54 games this season, sent the curveball 408 feet to the second deck in right field and cut the Tigers’ deficit to 5-3. Before the homer, Zach McKinstry and Javier Báez reached safely on a walk and a fielding error, respectively, to start the inning and apply pressure.

Six of Maton’s 25 hits are home runs.

In the dugout, Maton ripped off his batting helmet and exchanged it for the Red Wings hockey helmet. The home-run celebration, surrounded by supportive teammates, capped off an unforgettable moment against his old team.

“We built something pretty cool last year (with the Phillies) as far as camaraderie and getting along,” Maton said. “You’ve seen that with this group, as well. You’ve seen how we act. You’ve seen when we’re rolling. I mean, it’s good. That’s what winning teams do, and this team has what it takes to be a winning ballclub. To develop that over here would be fire.”

Nola, who finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting last season, allowed three runs (all unearned) on one hit and three walks with 12 strikeouts in seven innings, throwing 68 of 108 pitches for strikes.

He primarily relied on his four-seam fastball and knuckle curve, and he registered 21 whiffs with 10 fastballs, eight curves, two changeups and one sinker. He also had 13 of his 18 called strikes with his fastball.

Nola lowered his ERA to 4.30 in 13 starts.

“We need him to get going,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said of Maton. “I think it was emotional for him coming back and seeing a lot of friends and getting his (NL championship) ring. We need him to do exactly what he did tonight. It was a good walk, it was a good homer at an opportune time.”

Answering the howl

The Tigers’ burst of momentum from Maton’s three-run home run was brief, as the Phillies stole it back in the bottom of the seventh with three runs off right-handed reliever Mason Englert.

Englert needed 51 pitches to get six outs.

“It’s a tough middle of the order to go through,” Hinch said. “They really made him pay.”

RISING STAR TO IL: Tigers’ Riley Greene sent to 10-day injured list with stress fracture in left fibula

ACE TO IL: Tigers place Eduardo Rodriguez on 15-day injured list with hurt left index finger

In the seventh inning, also Englert’s third inning of work, the Phillies collected three consecutive hits from Bryce Harper (single), Turner (single) and J.T. Realmuto (two-run double).

With two outs, Edmundo Sosa added an RBI single to make it 8-3.

“Pretty good at-bats,” Hinch said. “Execution, continuing to urge (Englert) to go into attack mode and not lay off the gas pedal at all.”

Left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve recorded the third out in the seventh inning and retired all three batters he faced in the eighth inning.

Wentz wiped out

Before Maton’s home run, Wentz surrendered five runs without completing the fifth inning.

He walked Kyle Schwarber to begin his outing.

The Phillies scored one run in each of the first three innings, then added two runs in the fifth inning. The damage, however, could have been significantly worse. Wentz escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and stranded a runner on second base in the second inning.

“I didn’t do my job,” Wentz said. “It’s not the first time all year. It’s frustrating to go out there and not do your job. We have so many guys that do their jobs. But yeah, it’s frustrating.”

STARTING SUNDAY: Tigers’ Tarik Skubal to pitch Sunday in High-A; Riley Greene has ‘stress reaction’

HE’S BACK: Outfielder Akil Baddoo returns to 2021 form — only better — to help Tigers

Turner launched Wentz’s full-count cutter for a 420-foot solo home run to left-center field in the third inning. He tagged a second-pitch four-seam fastball for a 424-foot solo homer to left in the fifth.

Those were Turner’s sixth and seventh homers of the season. Wentz was replaced by Englert after he walked Bryson Stott with two outs in the fifth inning. He walked two batters in the first and fifth innings, plus one batter in the fourth.

Facing the Phillies, Wentz threw 44% four-seam fastballs, 28% cutters, 19% curveballs and 10% changeups. He got nine of his 14 whiffs with his cutter. The cutter, considered his best pitch, was effective at times.

“Probably a few too many (fastballs and cutters),” Wentz said. “But I think that I was decent getting to two strikes, but I feel like I didn’t execute the two-strike pitches the way that I need to. They got a couple balls, and I didn’t do well.”

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

Articles You May Like

Series Preview: Tigers host Kansas City Royals for final midweek set of season
Offseason Chat Transcript: Detroit Tigers
As Miggy’s career ends, Clemens reminisces on their WS battle
Trei Cruz, Jake Holton, and the bullpen carry Erie to Game 1 victory
Baddoo helps honor Miggy’s final homestand with 443-foot HR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *