Fan club: Tigers strike out 20 times in record-setting loss to White Sox
Chicago — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire has seen a lot of crazy games, heroic plays and dubious deeds over his 40 years in professional baseball. But Sunday was a first.
"I've never quite been a part of that or watched it, but I did today," he said. "That's another one off my checklist."
Gardenhire watched his hitters strikeout a Major League record-tying 20 times against four different pitchers in a 4-1 loss to the White Sox.
"I wasn't up there, so I can't really tell you," Gardenhire said. "I sat there and watched it just like you. Sure, you've got to be a little disappointed we didn't put the ball in play and give ourselves a chance.
"But on the flip side, their guy pitched his tail off."
It was a chilly, breezy 48-degrees at first pitch, decidedly not hitter-friendly conditions. But then again, White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez isn’t typically hitter-friendly in any weather. And he was downright oppressive Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
He struck out a career-high 14 in just six innings. It was two off the White Sox single-game strikeout record. He became just the third pitcher in Major League history to strike out 14 in six scoreless innings.
"His stuff was pretty electric today," said Grayson Greiner, whose second-inning single was one of just two hits the Tigers mustered and knocked in the only run. "Some days you can eliminate one of his pitches, but he had everything going today.
"His fastball was hitting 98, but he had his curveball and slider down and away and he mixed in a change-up. He had elite stuff."
The Tigers faced Lopez in Comerica Park seven days ago and got seven hits and three runs off him in six innings.
"Pfft, different guy," said Miguel Cabrera, who struck out three times against Lopez. "He was a different guy today. It was hard because he can throw his fastball 95 with sink and he can finish it with 98 straight.
"Today it was really good."
Cabrera said it reminded him of the night in 2016 when Max Scherzer struck out 20 Tigers in Washington.
"Yeah, like that," he said.
Thirteen of Lopez's 14 strikeouts came with his fastball. All three of Cabrera's strikeouts came against the fastball.
Thirteen of the 14 strikeouts were swinging. The Tigers whiffed at 24 of Lopez's pitches and took another 20 for called strikes.
"He was a lot better than he was the last time we faced him," said Gordon Beckham, who fanned four times and twice against Lopez. "Some days he's going to have his stuff and some days you're not going to have yours. That's kind of how it was today.
"He was good and we were bad."
It didn’t get any better after Lopez left, either. Relievers Jace Fry (two), Kelvin Herrera (two) and Alex Colome (two) fanned six more and brought the Tigers strikeout total to a gaudy 20 — which sets a White Sox franchise strikeout record for a nine-inning game.
"There are no excuses here," Gardenhire said. "We punched-out 20 times. I imagine you're going to get the same statement in the clubhouse. It's not acceptable. We have to be better than that."
Tigers starter Matthew Boyd may have been upstaged by Lopez, but he pitched another strong game, allowing less than three earned runs for the sixth straight start. He struck out nine over six innings.
"He gathered himself and hung in for six innings," Gardenhire said. "And he could've went back out for more and he wanted to. That's the competitor he is. He gave us an opportunity to do something today; we just didn't do it."
All the damage came in a 35-pitch first inning. Boyd hit Leury Garcia on a 2-2 pitch to start the game and walked Yoan Moncada with two outs to load the bases. The two runs scored on a ground-rule double by Welington Castillo.
"The issue in the first was just that I was rushing and running away from all my pitches," Boyd said. "We made the adjustment. Unfortunately, the deciding factor were those two runs in the first inning."
Boyd gave up just three singles the rest of the way.
Cabrera was asked about the team's frustration level.
"Why?" he said. "When you face a guy like that, and he don't give you too many chances, you gotta tip your cap."