Detroit — September arrived Friday at Comerica Park and with it came subtle, and not so delicate, changes in Detroit’s baseball world.
Temperatures slipped into the 50s as more than a taste of autumn arrived.
Lots of new and once-familiar names — Jairo Labourt and Bryan Holaday — made their way into the Tigers box score.
And the scoreboard testified to twists in Detroit’s lineup and roster as the Indians bashed Detroit, 10-0, on an evening when trade shock from Justin Verlander’s and Justin Upton’s exits seemed to envelop a town and a ballpark.
“I would get used to getting young guys in the game for the next month,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who in the past six weeks has said goodbye to Verlander, Upton, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson, and Alex Avila. “Because that’s basically what it’s going to be."
The Tigers lost the first act of Friday’s day-night doubleheader, 3-2, when the Indians got a run in the ninth. The Tigers had a shot at a walk-off win when they loaded the bases with two outs. But the dream died when Miguel Cabrera’s liner crashed into the glove of Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The Tigers’ evening follow-up dispensed with the suspense.
The Indians evicted Tigers starter Buck Farmer after three innings and four batters, hammering him for five runs on three hits, three walks and a hit batter.
“I’d get ahead and still try to nibble,” said Farmer, who would love to patch one of the Tigers’ rotation holes, but whose ERA spiked to 7.18 after Friday’s clunker. “And then it would be 2-2, 3-2, and they’re back in the driver’s seat.”
The Tigers, meanwhile, were getting accustomed to their new lives as a team minus a few past stars and friends.
Effects were obvious.
Through five innings, Detroit had two hits, each of them doubles, and both from Andrew Romine.
They finished the night with seven hits — eight fewer than the Indians, with most coming against Farmer, Blaine Hardy, and Jeff Ferrell.
The highlights, which carried extra weight Friday given Detroit’s rebuilding plans, included scoreless work from rookie Zac Reininger, as well as Labourt, the young left-hander who looks as tall as the Fisher Building.
Each man gave up a hit in one inning, but each looked good, Reininger especially as he struck out a pair of batters with a mid-90s fastball and a crisp slider.
Daniel Stumpf, the left-hander who is having a nice debut year in Detroit, also pitched a clean inning, with two strikeouts.
But there was never any real pretense Friday the Tigers were going to make this a game.
No one but Andrew Romine got more than one hit. And no one but Romine had an extra-base hit.
The crowd, which was announced at 24,342, seemed not overly bothered. Customers for the most part had brought an extra layer Friday and looked as if they relished the crisp air, if not the score.
Those on Detroit’s side, anyway.
On the other end are the Indians, a team that’s enjoying pure baseball exhilaration.
They’ve now won 10 consecutive games as they get ready, a month from now, to chase that World Series they came so close to claiming last autumn.
The Tigers have other plans, and realities, at work.
Friday night’s score was one September evening’s testament to some roster restoration ahead.