Central Michigan alum Dietrich Enns helps Rays shut down Tigers and even series

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It was the response you’d expect from the defending American League champs and a team threatening to run away with the East Division title.

After enduring a 10-4 loss to the Tigers on Friday night, the Tampa Bay Rays came hungry Saturday and put a 7-2 beating on the Tigers at Comerica Park.

"The story of the night is they just took control of the game," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "It never felt we were back in the game after the three-spot in the second inning. They took control and could do whatever they needed."

BOX SCORE: Rays 7, Tigers 2

The Rays jumped on rookie Casey Mize for three runs in that second inning. Joey Wendle and Kevin Kiermaier both tripled and scored in the inning. Wendle homered in the fourth off reliever Bryan Garcia. Kiermaier also doubled and scored in the fourth.

The Rays played a brand of aggressive baseball that Hinch is trying to instill in Detroit and that manifested itself in that quick three-run punch.

Wendle tripled with one out and got an aggressive secondary lead off third base. He broke for home on Mike Zunino's ground ball to third baseman Jeimer Candelario by Mike Zunino. The Tigers infield was in but Wendle was able to slide around the tag of catcher Eric Haase.

Rays relief pitcher Dietrich Enns, who played at Central Michigan, throws during the seventh inning on Saturday.

"Wendle ran inside the baseline, which is exactly how you are taught and how the good teams do it," Hinch said. "It looked like the throw was toward the inside and Haase making a sweep tag, he was able to get around it."

Hinch challenged the call at the plate but it was upheld.

"That play from an out and a runner at first, to a run in and a runner on first, and then the subsequent triple (by Kiermaier), that was just a big punch for them to throw at the beginning of the game," Hinch said. "They just keep coming at you."

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Rays manager Kevin Cash deployed a four-outfielder alignment against Robbie Grossman and Haase in the game, something else Hinch has done this season.

Mize, who wasn’t going to pitch more than three innings, lasted only two. In his previous limited-innings start, he needed 34 pitches to get through three perfect innings. This time he needed 35 pitches to get through the second inning alone.

Not much was going on offensively for the Tigers. Veteran Chris Archer, in his fourth start back from the injured list (elbow), didn’t give up a hit until Jonathan Schoop led off the fourth with a double. He scored on a one-out single by Miguel Cabrera.

Grossman hit his 23rd home run of the season in the ninth. 

"Archer is creative, he never throws the same pitch twice," Hinch said. "He's evolved as a pitcher. You can go up there and try to hunt strikes and if you get some you have a chance. But if you wait around, then you get into bad counts and he gets you to chase."

Archer was pulled after four innings because of discomfort in his left hamstring. But unlike Friday when they scored nine runs off the Rays’ bullpen in the final three innings — something that the Rays hadn’t experienced since 2018 — the Tigers went empty.

Lefty Dietrich Enns, a product of Central Michigan University, pitched four scoreless and hitless innings to earn his first big-league win. The only runner reached on an error. Using only two pitches — a mid-90s four-seam fastball and a mid-80s cutter — he struck out six and got 11 misses on 35 swings.

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"That was a very special beer shower," Enns told reporters via Zoom after the game. "There might have been some other stuff in there, but I just know there was a lot of cold beer. It's great to finally get this."

Enns was drafted out of Central by the Yankees in 2012. He pitched nine seasons in the minors with one brief call-up by the Twins in 2017. 

"I went to school not far from here, so that made it even better," he said. "My parents were here and some of my college teammates."

On the bright side for the Tigers, right-hander Drew Hutchison, who has been a starter all season and through most of his career, pitched four strong innings out of the bullpen, allowing a run and two hits. 

"Drew threw the ball really well," Hinch said. "He's continued to get lefties out, which is really important for him in any role. This is a tough lineup with a lot of potent left-handed hitters."

Hutchison made two starts for the Tigers last month before being designated for assignment. He stayed in the organization and has a chance to finish the season as a bulk reliever.

"I know probably better than anyone how tough it is to get opportunities," Hutchison said. "So when you get one, you've got to take advantage of it regardless of the role. If you get an opportunity and they give you the ball, you've got to perform."


Twitter: @cmccosky