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Walks, hit batters doom Tigers as win streak ends vs. Brewers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Milwaukee – Ineffectively wild.

That will be the epitaph on the death of the Tigers six-game winning streak. Ten walks and two hit batsmen led to six runs as the Milwaukee Brewers came back from a 4-0 deficit and beat the Tigers 8­-5 at Miller Park Wednesday.

"I'll have to go back and see if the strike zone was tight," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "There were a lot of close pitches. Catchers on both sides were holding pitches and framing them. It goes both ways.

Tigers starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull throws during the first inning.

"It is what it is. You have to adjust to an umpire's strike zone. We didn't do that too well tonight."

Those long, long innings are a double-edge sword, too, Gardenhire said.

"When you are out there playing defense and runners are on the bases, it takes away from your offense," he said. "I've always said that and you saw it tonight."

BOX SCORE: Brewers 8, Tigers 5

After scoring five runs in the first five innings, the Tigers offense went cold against the Brewers bullpen. Relievers Eric Yardley, Devin Williams and Josh Hader pitched four no-hit innings. Hitters are 0-for-35 against Hader this season. 

"Ten walks and two hit batters -- 12 free passes," Gardenhire said, shaking his head. "You don't like to see that."

The Brewers broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh. Reliever Joe Jimenez walked Justin Smoak and hit Avisail Garcia to start the inning. With one out, Luis Urias singled to load the bases and Eric Sogard hit a sacrifice fly to center breaking the tie.

Then in the eighth, after a lead-off walk to Christian Yellich, Buck Farmer gave up a two-out, two-run home run to pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Peterson was batting for Garcia, who left the game after being hit in the hand.

It was that kind of night. 

The trouble began with a 29-pitch third inning by starter Spencer Turnbull. He walked Ben Gamel and Yelich with one out. Turnbull hadn’t given up a home run in his last nine starts going back to last September.

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But he left a 1-1 four-seamer down but over the middle of the plate and Keston Hiura bashed it into the Tigers’ bullpen in left-center field. It was 4-3 that quickly.

"I felt fine," said Turnbull, whose start was pushed back a day because he was dealing with a stiff back. "Just didn't throw enough strikes." 

The game turned in the fifth. The Tigers led 5-3 when Turnbull walked Yelich and Justin Smoak with one out. He was at 89 pitches and Gardenhire summoned right-hander John Schreiber, who hadn’t pitched in nine days.

The Tigers' Jorge Bonifacio hits a three-run double.

Typically, Gardenhire hasn't used Schreiber with a lead, but he liked the match-up -- right-handed side-arming sinker-ball pitcher, right-handed, free-swinging Avisail Garcia, needing a double-play to get out of the jam. 

"What does Schreiber do? Sinker-baller, submariner; and what do they do, they throw ground balls," Gardenhire said. "We were looking for a ground ball and he threw four straight sliders. I have no idea."

Schreiber walked Garcia to load the bases and gave up a broken-bat bloop single to Omar Narvaez. The barrel of the shattered bat flew nearly as far as the ball, which barely eluded second baseman Jonathan Schoop’s reach in short right field – but it was good enough to score two runs and tie the game.

"I handed (Schreiber) the ball and I said, 'We're looking for a ground ball to get two,'" Gardenhire said. "Then he throws four sliders for a walk. I'm lost on that one."

The Tigers hadn’t had a double-digit walk night since May 4, 2019. Both teams beefed about the inconsistent strike zone deployed by umpire Manny Gonzalez, but the Brewers pitchers adjusted, walking just one.

"I thought I threw some close pitches," said Turnbull, who only allowed three hits. "If I was getting squeezed or not, I haven't had a chance to look and see where those pitches were. I didn't feel like I was getting squeezed, but I did feel like I threw some close pitches.

"Sometimes those calls don't go your way. You've got to make pitches and I didn't make enough of them. It was a little frustrating."

Things were looking pretty good for the Tigers after they scored three runs right out of the gate.

Victor Reyes, who had four hits Tuesday, led off with a double. He eventually scored on an infield single by Willi Castro – a ball that rolled and spun about 20 feet down the first base line and died right on the chalk.

Jorge Bonifacio then delivered a two-out, two-run double.

It was 4-0 after an RBI single by Christin Stewart in the third.

Castro, who had three hits and is 12-for-25 over the course of his seven-game hitting streak, singled home Miguel Cabrera (who doubled) with the fifth run in the fifth inning.

The Tigers fall back to .500 (17-17) and are 1.5 games out of a wild card spot. 

Twitter @cmccosky