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).”
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.”