Reliever Barbato roughed up by Orioles in Tigers debut

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Tigers relief pitcher Johnny Barbato gave up four hits and three runs in two innings in Friday's loss to the Orioles.

Baltimore — They had used enough pitchers during three games at Pittsburgh.

The Tigers needed a helpful start Friday against the Orioles at Camden Yards  and got it from Mike Fiers, who was sturdy during six innings in a game the Tigers lost, 6-0, due in great part to the fact the Tigers got only two hits.

They had also hoped to get Johnny Barbato involved in Friday’s affair. They wanted a right-handed reliever to get his first big-league work in 2018 and to perhaps show that calling him up Thursday from Triple A Toledo was a move that could well give aid and comfort to the Tigers bullpen.

It didn’t work out quite in line with Hollywood’s script.

Barbato, 25, who was a January waiver claim from the Pirates, worked two harsh innings against the Orioles, allowing four hits and three runs.

“Good arm,” said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, "but he didn’t have a feel for his splitter. That’s the one that went to the backstop (wild pitch in the eighth).”

More: Tigers’ Jeimer Candelario playing through wrist pain

Barbato had a 1.17 ERA in six games with the Mud Hens, striking out nine batters in 7.2 innings while rolling up a 1.17 WHIP.

He has worked before in the majors, 37 games cumulatively with the Pirates and with the Yankees. He was strong enough out of high school in Miami, Fla., to have been a sixth-round pick by the Padres.

The Tigers are hoping his fastball, which can run in the mid-90s, and his split will turn into a tandem they can trust in the latter innings.

That was the conviction after Barbato had a strong spring camp and would have made the team until a tender elbow derailed him. And that was the feeling reinforced by his early weeks at Toledo.

“I couldn’t get a grip on the splitter tonight,” said Barbato, who wasn’t blaming the cold  not on a night when it was 62 degrees at game time.

“I’m just trying to do it here,” he said, referencing his spring-camp and Toledo work. “I got hit pretty hard tonight.”