‘One tough night’: Tigers climb out of 4-0 hole, but drop opener 6-5 to Marlins

Detroit News

Miami — Never giving up. Staying in the fight. Playing all 27 outs. Admirable traits, for sure.

But after a while, fighting to the end and losing has to get old.

The Tigers rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to tie the game Tuesday against the Angels, only to lose it in the 10th. On Friday in Miami, they rallied out of an early 4-0 deficit, tied the game with a two-run burst in the top of the eighth and then lost it in the bottom of the eighth.

“Losing sucks, no matter what,” said Spencer Torkelson after the Marlins scored twice against reliever Jason Foley to beat the Tigers 6-5 at LoanDepot Park. “We love Foley. He’s the man and he’s been dynamite for us all year. It was just one tough night.”

Foley gave up three straight singles − to Jesus Sanchez, Yuli Gurriel and an RBI single by Jon Berti − plus a sacrifice fly.

“We didn’t get into the game great and we didn’t finish it great,” said manager AJ Hinch. “But late we put ourselves back into it with a couple of big at-bats. But they continue to play, too. That’s a good team.”

BOX SCORE: Marlins 6, Tigers 5

The Tigers, who have lost four straight, didn’t go quietly in the ninth. Torkelson ripped a one-out double off lefty A.J. Puk and scored on a single by Andy Ibanez to make it a one-run game. Puk struck out Eric Haase and Javier Báez to close it out.

It was a tough ending to a very spirited performance by Báez.

For the first six innings, the only thing churning for the Tigers’ offense was Báez’s legs. Stymied by Marlins’ lefty starter Braxton Garrett, Báez stole a run in the fourth. He chopped an infield single and scored from first base on a ground ball by Miguel Cabrera that eluded third baseman Jean Segura and rolled into shallow left field.

In the second inning Báez walked and stole second. He’s 10-for-10 in stolen-base attempts. He also made a sensational bare-handed play to throw out Segura in the fourth.

“Javy always plays hard,” Hinch said. “That probably doesn’t get talked about enough. He puts in the effort. He’s working. He’s trying to address some things. He knows he can help us in different ways if he’s not driving the ball out of the park. I’m happy he feels good enough physically and he understands he has to do some little things well to continue to contribute.”

The Tigers scratched across another run in the seventh on a two-out, two-strike RBI knock by Torkelson, who had struck out three times against Garrett.

More: Q&A with Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera: ‘I want to stay in baseball. Hopefully that will happen’

Still, they were down 4-2. With one out in the eighth, Báez beat out another infield hit, this time with a head-first slide beating Miami pitcher Tanner Scott to the bag. Scott’s foot hit the bag awkwardly and he left with what was later called a mild calf strain.

That turned out to be significant for the Tigers. The lefty Scott was replaced by right-hander JT Chargois. Hinch countered with his left-handed hitters off the bench. Zach McKinstry drew a two-out walk and Nick Maton followed with a two-run double to the right-field gap, scoring both runners and tying the game.

“Nick was waiting around for the righty matchup and we got it for him twice,” Hinch said. “He got fortunate on a squibber (in the seventh, scoring on Torkelson’s hit). And he had a really good at-bat against their righty reliever. We were trying to matchup for that at-bat and Nick stayed in it.

“You don’t have to homer to contribute.”

The home run ball vexed Tigers’ starter Reese Olson again. San Diego’s Juan Soto got him twice in his previous start. And in the first inning Friday, Bryan De La Cruz mashed a 1-0 fastball over the wall in left, a two-run homer. The 95-mph fastball was inside and off the plate.

“I was surprised he hit that,” Olson said. “I don’t know how he hit it. I thought it was lower than it was but it was off the plate. He just jumped a heater.”

It was the fourth homer Olson’s allowed in his last three starts.

De La Cruz got Olson again in the third. Olson hung an 0-2 slider that ended up in the left field corner, an RBI double. Olson had hung a slider to Berti in the second inning that resulted in a double. Berti scored on an infield hit by Jean Segura.

The slider has been a money pitch for Olson since he was called up from Triple-A Toledo. The spin rate on it has been elite, 3,013 rpm on average. Through the first four innings, Olson threw 12 sliders with an average spin rate of 2,473 rpm, 540 rpm less.

“It just wasn’t very good today,” he said. “It’s not something you can lean on when you are missing that bad with it.”

He decided to put the pitch in his pocket for the fifth inning, using his changeup more often and also mixing some curveballs. The adjustment worked. He retired the last seven hitters, getting through six full innings.

He brought the slider back out in the sixth and got a swinging strike and a pop out with it.

“To give up four and then settle down and get through six innings, give us a little length and not stress the bullpen too much — I’m pleased I was able to do that,” he said. “Just those first few innings were tough.”

The difference between winning games and fighting hard to lose games is small. The Marlins put their lead off man on in four innings and scored in all four. The Tigers put their lead off hitter on only once and stranded him at third. They left 10 runners on base and were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“It hurts to lose, no matter how it goes,” Torkelson said. “But I think there was a lot of good to take out of today.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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