Carpenter hits grand slam, but rally falls short in Tigers’ 6-4 loss to Cubs

Detroit News

Detroit — The ending was anticlimactic in contrast to the overall drama.

The Chicago Cubs left Comerica Park with a 6-4 victory on Wednesday afternoon, along with a series win over the Tigers.

The deciding run was set up by an infield hit that was initially scored an error, an uncontested stolen base and a walk. The run was delivered by a two-out, two-strike single by catcher Yan Gomes in the eighth inning, off reliever Beau Brieske.

The Tigers misplayed a ground ball by Ian Happ. Third baseman Matt Vierling lunged in front of shortstop Zach McKinstry, effectively shielding him from the ball. Brieske then didn’t hold Happ at first, and he stole second base without a throw.

That set the stage for Gomes, whose line drives off fastballs did a lot of damage. The Cubs tacked on another run in the ninth off lefty Andrew Vasquez, and again, it was a walk that contributed to the run.

The Tigers’ hero moment came in the bottom of the sixth:

Kerry Carpenter’s first two at-bats against Cubs starter Jameson Taillon didn’t look very comfortable.

He looked overmatched the first time against Taillon’s cutter-sinker combination. The second time, up he chased a two-strike curveball.

Carpenter wasn’t alone. Taillon was doing that to all of the Tigers’ hitters. He didn’t allow a hit through five innings and took a 4-0 lead into the sixth. But the Tigers started chipping away.

Singles by Andy Ibanez, Jake Rogers and Akil Baddoo loaded the bases with nobody out. Taillon nearly pitched his way out of it. He struck out Riley Greene and got Spencer Torkelson on a shallow fly to left.

That brought Carpenter to the plate. He’d seen 11 pitches in his first two at-bats, so when Taillon fell behind 3-1, with the one strike being with a elevated cutter, Carpenter set his sights.

He got a cutter, center-in, and clobbered it into the plants atop the wall in right-center field. It was his 20th home run of the season, his ninth this month and his first career grand slam.

Kerry Bonds. Kerry Barrels. Kerry Clutch.

Carpenter, who has reached base in 20 straight games, came into the game slashing .397/.468/.809 in the previous 19.

The look of abject disgust on Taillon’s face, as Carpenter was greeted at home plate by his teammates, will be one of the memorable images from this one.

The most indelible image, though, was that of Tigers starter Tarik Skubal laying on his back on the mound with his arms behind his head trying to will away the pain.

He was drilled in the left thigh by a line drive in the fourth inning, a sizzler that left Gomes’ bat at 102 mph.

It was emblematic of how hard the Cubs were hitting him early in this game and also of Skubal’s resoluteness. He showed, again, you can knock him down, but you won’t easily knock him out.

The Cubs attacked Skubal’s fastball early. Former Tiger Jeimer Candelario ripped an RBI double off a 95-mph heater in the second inning and Cody Bellinger lined a two-out, two-run single off a 96-mph fastball in the third.

Skubal contributed to his own troubles that inning, first by walking Dansby Swanson and then by not paying attention to the runners. Nico Hoerner and Swanson pulled off a double-steal ahead of Bellinger’s knock.

Then Gomes led off the fourth with the liner, off a 95-mph fastball, that felled Skubal. It also fueled him. He got up, dusted himself off, took a few test pitches and then shooed manager AJ Hinch and the trainer off the mound and got back to work.

He finished his outing by retiring nine of the last 10 hitters he faced with three strikeouts through the sixth inning.

His teammates rewarded his resolve by taking him off the hook with Carpenter’s game-tying slam in the bottom of the sixth.

The game was delayed 34 minutes at the start by a rainstorm that blew through the area.

Twitter/X: @cmccosky

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