Tigers 2, Blue Jays 1: Reese Olson dominates again

Bless You Boys

The Tigers still didn’t give Reese Olson much run support, but he was excellent yet again and this time the bullpen held on to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the series.

Last time on the mound, we saw Reese Olson get drilled in the hip by Michael Massey of the Royals. While reports quickly dismissed any injuries other than a bruise, it took a few days to know if he’d be good to go in taking his next turn in the rotation. Turns out, he’s just fine. Olson continued his outstanding performance this season with another strong outing in which he had the Blue Jays frustrated all afternoon.

Olson issued a two-out walk to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the right guy to walk if you’re going to despite a slow start to the season, in the first, but got Bo Bichette to ground out to strand him.

The Tigers’ offense then landed the quick strike in the bottom half. With two outs, Mark Canha doubled to left. Jose Berrios missed with a pair of fastballs to fall behind Kerry Carpenter, and a changeup down the middle was roasted into the seats in right field. Carp’s second homer in as many days made it 2-0.

Both pitchers spun a 1-2-3 second inning, but in the top of the third, Kevin Kiermaier pulled a triple into the right-field corner to put Olson in a tight spot. He responded by punching out Davis Schneider and got Justin Turner to ground out to escape the inning. Both Olson’s changeup and slider looked great as usual, but his command of the sinker was particularly good in this one early on.

The Tigers went in order in the bottom of the third, the Jays in the top of the fourth. Carpenter led off the bottom of the fourth by pulling his hands in on a slurve on the inner edge and ripping a drive down the first base line. Guerrero made a nice diving play to knock it down and prevent extra bases, but Carpenter had his second hit of the day.

Unfortunately, Carpenter tried to steal and didn’t really get a good jump. He was thrown out by Alejandro Kirk, and Gio Urshela struck out while Colt Keith flew out weakly in foul territory to end the inning.

Olson finally got into a little trouble in the fifth. Kirk led off with a solid single to center field and Isiah Kiner-Falefa dropped down a bunt to third and reached with a single as well. Olson got Ernie Clement on a line drive to Carpenter to right field that looked dicey off the bat. Olson struck out Kiermaier and then issued a walk to a patient Schneider to load the bases. The fear factor grew, but for the crowd, not Reese Olson, who promptly punched out Justin Turner on an absolutely nasty changeup down to strand them all.

The baby-faced assassin, indeed.

In the bottom half, the Tigers got a two-out double from Jake Rogers, who pulled a hot shot right off Schneider’s glove into foul territory. Wenceel Perez fought back from an 0-2 count and ripped a line drive right to a leaping Kiner-Falefa for the final out.

Olson was in control, but you had to worry with the Tigers unable to add on runs against a pretty mediocre starting pitcher once again.

Olson remained in control. With his pitch count just topping 70 as the inning began, pitch count started to come into play, but the young right-hander was having none of it.

In this inning, he started to mix in some eye-popping curveballs to go with the usual outstanding slider and changeup, and he ran through the Blue Jays on seven pitches with the help of the left side of the infield. Guerrero pulled a soft bouncer that Urshela cut in front of Baez to retrieve and make the play. Bichette grounded one deep in the hole and Báez had to unleash everything he had while his weight was on his back foot. Mark Canha made a nice scoop to complete that play, and George Springer grounded out on the first pitch.

Olson was at 79 pitches, but unlike most starters, hadn’t even fully unpacked his bag of tricks yet. So we were curious to see how deep he’d go, and whether the Tigers would ever reward him with a bunch of run support.

They would not, as you’ll be unsurprised to learn. Mark Canha singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Carpenter grounded into a double play to send it to the seventh.

Olson got the first out but walked Kiner-Falefa, who promptly stole second base. Ernie Clement pulled a grounder to Urshela, but Canha just dropped the low throw, and the situation was suddenly pretty dangerous. The Tigers turned to Alex Faedo, who quickly popped up Kevin Kiermaier for the second out. Unfortunately, Schneider pulled a double down the left-field line. Riley Greene did a great job cutting it off to hold the Blue Jays to one run, and Faedo got Justin Turner to ground out to end the inning.

But the Tigers needed more offense in the worst way at this point. Urshela singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh to get them started, but again nothing would come of it. Colt Keith flew out to center field, and Báez grounded into a double play on a breaking ball down and away. Shocking, I know.

With a set of tough right-handers starting off the eighth, A.J. Hinch used Jason Foley against the heart of the Jays’ lineup. Guerrero lined a single to right to lead off, and that seemed to bode ill, but Foley got Bichette to ground a sinker right to Báez who turned the double play to turn the Jays away. George Springer grounded out to Báez as well, and the Jays were down to their final outs.

Berrios finally departed after seven good innings, giving way to Jordan Romano in the bottom of the eighth. The Tigers couldn’t do much in the inning.

Tyler Holton took over in the ninth, and while he allowed a Kiner-Falefa double, he held on, striking out Dany Jansen to earn the save.

It’s an 11:05 start on Roku only on Sunday, so enjoy your loved ones and Happy Memorial Day weekend!

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