Tigers 5, Reds 4: The Tigers saved their fireworks for this one

Bless You Boys

Reese Olson was excellent again in this one. The Tigers’ offense blasted four home runs to support him, taking down the Reds despite a bit of a Jason Foley meltdown by a score of 5-4 on Friday night.

The Tigers made a move prior to Friday’s series opener by recalling center fielder Parker Meadows from Triple-A Toledo, optioning a scuffling Akil Baddoo in his place. As Scott Harris, A.J. Hinch, and pretty much anyone who watches Tigers’ baseball has opined over the last few years, having a great defensive outfield is crucial for team success. They can live with a less than stellar infield defensively if they’d just hit, but it’s the outfield where extra base hits are robbed or given up.

Meadows really boosts the Tigers in that department, and if he can just keep his OPS over .650 he’ll be out there most days. Meadows did hit eight homers with a .394 OBP and an .805 OPS during his 47 game stint back in Triple-A.

I mention all this because after a quick two innings in which the Tigers got a double from Riley Greene and no more, while Reese Olson cruised through the first two frames without allowing a hit, Meadows stepped to the dish to lead off the third. He battled to a 3-2 count and got a fastball up and in on the corner of the zone. He blasted it 410 feet to right field for a solo shot. 1-0 Tigers.

Hey, welcome back Parker.

Ryan Kreidler struck out, and Reds CF Stuart Fairchild made his second excellent play of the game, running straight out to the warning track on a Matt Vierling missile and hauling it in over his head. However, Colt Keith stepped to the dish and crushed a 1-0 changeup to right field for his sixth homer on the year. That one flew 413 feet, and as expected, Keith seems to be finding his swag as he settles into his rookie campaign.

Since May 1, Keith was batting .281 with five home runs in 177 plate appearances and a 110 wRC+, 10 percent above average. That will look better after this one.

Greene followed Keith with a single, but Carson Kelly struck out to end the inning. Olson quickly racked up three more outs, with no one reaching base through three innings.

The fourth inning started in a rain delay as light rain had intensified. Fortunately it didn’t last too long, but as this game was on Apple TV to make sure Comcast subscribers weren’t alone in not being able to watch the team anymore, perhaps few were really put out by a delay at this point either.

After a 26 minute break, RHP Carson Spiers got back to work for the Reds in the top of the fourth. Wenceel Pérez greeted him with a single, but was forced at second on a Justyn-Henry Malloy ground ball and the Tigers went in order on an Urshela fly out and a Meadows ground out from there.

Reese Olson came back out after the wait and got a bit of a break as Jonathan India stung a line drive to center field, but Meadows handled it without issue. Olson then walked Elly De La Cruz for the first Reds baserunner. Jeimer Candelario was next, and Olson got a grounder to Keith at second for a 4-6-3 to turn the Reds away still without a hit.

Vierling reached on an infield single to shortstop with one out in the fifth. Keith got an 0-1 sweeper over the heart of the plate and crushed it to right field for another long home run. That’s three this week for the rookie, who appears to be finding his swag. 4-0 Tigers.

Riley Greene followed Keith with a walk, reaching base for the third time in three attempts. Carson Kelly pulled a single through the left side of the infield to move Greene to second. Pérez popped out, but Malloy put together his typically disciplined at-bat and drew a walk to load the bases for Urshela.

That brought an old friend to the mound, as the Reds turned to Buck Farmer to take over for Spiers. He punched out Urshela coolly to keep the Reds in the game, and it was on to the bottom half.

Olson finally gave up a hit to lead off the fifth, and unfortunately it was a Spencer Steer solo shot that ruined the nascent no-no bid. Olson waxed sorely pissed at this development and struck out the side from there.

The sixth opened with a Meadows strike out, although it looked like he clearly held up. Kreidler was called out on strikes, but Farmer walked Vierling to bring Keith to the dish again. The second baseman hit the ball hard the opposite way, but left fielder Nick Martini was there to turn the Tigers away.

Olson was only at 63 pitches at this point. He started the inning with a swinging strikeout of Will Benson, his fourth victim in a row after the home run. Fairchild quickly suffered the same fate as Olson’s eighth strikeout. Jonathan India singled to right, and that brought Elly De La Cruz to the dish. Olson froze him with a slider up in the zone in a 2-2 count, but a bad call from CB Bucknor extended the AB and De La Cruz walked.

That brought Chris Fetter out to give Olson a minute and a bit of advice. It didn’t work out, as Olson tried to drop in a rare curve in a 1-2 count and Jeimer Candelario grounded it to Kreidler. It was hit softly and there was really no play, but Kreidler uncorked one and threw the ball away as India scored. 4-2.

Javier Báez homered off of Triston McKenzie for Toledo tonight, in case you’re wondering.

Between Bucknor and a bit of Kreidler, Olson finally got back to his usual unluck. Hinch turned to Will Vest for final out of the inning. Vest let Candelario steal second base, but a line drive to right field off Steer’s bat was hauled in by Wenceel Pérez to end the inning.

The blunders by his teammate and the home plate umpire really screwed Olson over. He was dominating but they cost him a ton of extra pitches and the Tigers a run in the inning.

Olson finished with 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K. He got 16 whiffs in this one, all but one on either the slider or the changeup. The fastballs got no whiffs, but as long as he’s getting grounders and not giving up too many meatballs, the whole package has come together really nicely.

Riley Greene had presumably watched this unfold with disgust out in left field. He greeted new reliever LHP Brent Suter with a towering missile to right field for his 17th homer on the year.

Four Tigers home runs again? What did we do to deserve all this? 5-2 Tigers.

Carson Kelly struck out, but Pérez walked and Malloy lined a single to left. However, Urshela snuffed another rally with a double play ball and we were on to the seventh inning stretch.

Will Vest tossed a 1-2-3 inning, striking out Noelvi Marte to send this one to the eighth inning.

Vierling singled with two outs in the top of the inning, but Keith struck out on a foul tip to send it to the bottom half.

Andrew Chafin took over, so the Reds pinch hit RHH Santiago Espinal for Will Benson. Chafin got him on a ground out and then carved up Fairchild. Jonathan Inida lined out to Meadows and we were on to the ninth.

Suter had no trouble, setting the Tigers down in order. And so it was Jason Foley time.

Elly De La Cruz beat out an infield single to start the inning, and then stole his 43rd base on the year. The Tigers challenged the play but it looked like Kreidler just missed the tag. Foley then balked De La Cruz to third in a 1-2 count against Candelario. Foley bounced back to strike out Candy, but Steer got an 0-1 sinker down the middle and pulled a line drive that Vierling was just able to knock down. De La Cruz scored and Steer reached first on the play.

Foley was struggling with his command and fell behind Nick Martini 3-1 and a sinker down and in was smoked off Gio Urshela’s glove into the right field corner for an RBI triple. 5-4 Tigers. Not good.

Fetter came out yet again to try and straighten out a struggling pitcher and a series of sliders to catcher Tyler Stephenson got a ground ball to third. Vierling fired home to get the lead runner, and everyone breathed a big sign of relief until Noelvi Marte singled into center field to get Stephenson into scoring position. Fortunately, Santiago Espinal grounded out to end it.

Scary stuff from Foley there. Never comes easy, but a win is a win.

Box Score

Jackson Jobe returns to Erie

The top pitching prospect in baseball returned from his three start rehab assignment in West Michigan tonight. He spun five innings of a one run ball, allowing three hits and a walk against eight strikeouts. His fastball topped out at 99, and Jobe again mixed in quite a few low 90’s cutters to great effect.

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