Spencer Torkelson, Eduardo Rodriguez lead Tigers past Guardians

Detroit News

Cleveland — The finale of the four-game series against the Guardians Sunday followed a familiar and successful script for the Tigers.

In Game 1 on Friday, Akil Baddoo led off the game with a home run and the Tigers rode a three-run first inning to a 4-2 win.

On Saturday, they rode Kerry Carpenter’s three-run, first-inning homer to a 4-3 win.

On Sunday, Spencer Torkelson got the ball rolling with a two-run blast in the first inning, his 22nd of the year. And lefty ace Eduardo Rodriguez made sure it held up as the Tigers beat the Guardians 4-1 at Progressive Field.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 4, Guardians 1

Rodriguez was brilliant, allowing just one run and four hits in 6.2 innings. The one run was set up on a double by Steven Kwan, a fly ball that right-fielder Carpenter struggled to track in the sun.

It looked for few innings like Rodriguez would only throw his two fastballs. Thirty-three of his first 43 pitches were four-seamers and two-seamers. The second time through the order, though, the Guardians hitters saw his complete arsenal.

He got 17 swinging strikes and 14 called strikes (13 with his four-seamer). He got four swinging strikes on eight swings with his slider.

He had two quick outs in the seventh when Tyler Freeman reached on slow topper, a swinging bunt, essentially, down the third base line.

Much to Rodriguez’s chagrin, manager AJ Hinch was on his way to the mound. His protestations went unheeded. He was at 105 pitches and his day was done.

Rodriguez, now 5-0 against the Guardians in his career, should have given a hat-tip to shortstop Javier Báez on his way to the dugout. His outing was aided by his defensive wizardry. Báez made two El Mago specials. He took a single away from Freeman in the fifth inning, ranging far into the hole to his right and throwing a seed to first base from one knee.

He stole a hit from Jose Ramirez in the sixth, making a quick, diving backhanded snare of a ball hit with an exit velocity of 102 mph. Báez caught the ball with his momentum going toward left field and he still was able to get up quick and throw out Ramirez.

Báez also ended the seventh inning, going into the hole to get a grounder by Gabriel Arias and getting the force out at second base.

Relievers Tyler Holton (1.1 innings) and Alex Lange closed it out.

The other side of this Tigers-Guardians narrative, though, was those first-inning runs were about all the damage the Tigers did in those games.

Until Sunday, the Tigers scored just three runs in innings other than the first. Not this time, Carpenter blasted his 18th homer of the season in the seventh. Báez created a second run in the inning, getting hit by a pitch, forcing a balk and scoring on a pinch-hit single by Baddoo.

The Tigers improve to 25-15 against the Central Division.


X: @cmccosky

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