Before second-largest crowd of season, Tigers lay yet another egg
Detroit — Get this: It's about to get even worse.
On this, the city of Detroit's 318th birthday, the Tigers spittled all over the cake and still couldn't blow out the candles, the result an uninspiring 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on an otherwise glorious Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
The Tigers now are an unbelievably anemic 30-67, and by the time they play again at home, the team is likely to be a shell of itself — as if that even seems possible.
This was the Tigers' last home game before the July 31 trade deadline, as they now embark on a 10-game road trip.
When said trip is over, there's a very good chance that right fielder Nick Castellanos and closer Shane Greene will be playing elsewhere. And if Detroit ever decides to get realistic with the price for starter Matt Boyd, he'll probably be gone, too.
"That's something that I really can't worry about," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I get it, I understand the talk.
"It's speculation, everything is. We got the guys out there in the clubhouse that are gonna be with us on the trip, and hopefully we'll get back with all of them.
"I hope we keep them all, but I can't control it."
While the Tigers are on the road, in Seattle, Los Angeles and Texas, general manager Al Avila and his lieutenants will be back in Detroit, working the phones till the witching hour.
Meanwhile, if it was, indeed, Castellanos' final home game as a Tiger, he went out with a whimper, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The Tigers, with the majors' worst offense, managed just five hits in being shut out for the 10th time this season. Phillies starter Vince Velasquez (3-5) struck out a season-high nine.
Brandon Dixon, playing dress-up as the Tigers' cleanup hitter, had two singles, Niko Goodrum had a single and a double, and Christin Stewart a single. And that's that. Detroit loaded the bases with two out in the second, couldn't score, and never threatened again.
Hard to blame the ballpark's dimensions for that, seeing as how the Phillies managed to hit two home runs, including a 435-foot bomb by Nick Williams, plus as an earlier solo shot by J.T. Realmuto, a day after he caught 15 innings.
The Phillies hit three homers in the two games, as many as Castellanos — who spoke ill of Comerica Park's dimensions earlier in the week — has here in all of 2019.
Both homers came off Jordan Zimmermann, who for the fourth consecutive start couldn't get out of the fifth inning. He remains winless, at 0-8, and his ERA is up to 7.57. He allowed eight hits and a walk, striking out three.
"I've never been in a lower spot in my career," Zimmermann said.
His outing started well enough, with four relatively clean innings, aside from the homer by Realmuto. The Phillies then sent nine men to the plate in the fifth inning — Williams led off with a homer, Zimmermann slipped on a bunt, there was a wild throw to first on a would-be picked-off base runner, there was a walk, there were some some well-executed pitches that still ended up being base hits. You get the point.
All that blew open the game and knocked Zimmermann from it.
"The fifth inning came around, and all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom, and I'm out of the game," he said. "That's just the way it's been going for me lately."
If there were bright spots, Jose Cisnero, just back up from Toledo, was sharp, striking out three in 1.2 innings in relief of Zimmermann. Gregory Soto was solid with three scoreless innings after him.
And, the Tigers remain the front-runner for the No. 1 pick in next June's draft.
That marks the seventh time the Tigers have been swept in a home series this season, out of 17 series so far. (An eighth is in progress, with the suspended game with the A's.)
The latest dud happened to come in front of what easily was the second-largest crowd of the season, behind sold-out Opening Day. The announced attendance was 33,735, boosted by more than 10,000 Quicken Loans employees who were given the afternoon off, orange shirts and tickets in celebration of the company's best quarter in 34 years.
The Quicken folks brought some much-needed energy to the park, and even heartily tried to start the wave late in the game, but they'd have had better luck getting Castellanos into a mortgage for a new home in Detroit.
This was only the second time this season the Tigers topped 30,000 at the gate, and it came on a day when two of the game's biggest names — Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper and Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera — got the day off.
Cabrera most certainly will be seen again at Comerica Park in a Tigers uniform, while perhaps two, three or four others will not. The clock is ticking, and the phone is ringing.
"That's out of our control," Goodrum said, sitting at his locker, in a stone-cold-silent clubhouse. "Whatever the front office wants to do, that's what they do.
"We just keep going. That's the only thing we can control."