Beau Brieske is solid but unsatisfied in debut as Rockies earn split with Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — There are two pitches rookie right-hander Beau Brieske might very well regret — both ended up in the seats and provided the margin of defeat in the Tigers' 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday.

But on a whole, he made a most favorable impression in his big-league debut. He gave up three hits, struck out three and walked two in five innings, closing it out with a clean, seven-pitch inning.

"He doesn't have to be perfect, even though I know he wanted to be perfect tonight," manager AJ Hinch said. "I told him on the dugout steps after he was done, 'There's only one first night and he should be proud of himself and soak it up.'"

Brieske, the Tigers' 27th-round pick in 2019 who was pitching at High-A West Michigan at this time last year, did soak everything up. As for whether he's proud of himself — maybe partly. 

Tigers starter Beau Brieske works in the first inning.  He allowed three runs and three hits over five innings.

"The advice I got was to get out there early and just soak it all in and look at everything and just recognize what I had to do to get here and appreciate it," Brieske said. "Instead of trying to go out there and deal with it all at once."

That part he did. As for being proud of his performance?

"This was nowhere near my best," he said. "I feel I did a good job grinding. I feel like I did a good job with my process and staying composed and confident. But I know I will be better. I can be better, I will be better and I need to be better."

Brieske came out attacking, mostly with high-spin, four-seam fastballs. Of his 73 pitches, he threw 43 four-seamers, sitting at 94.6 mph (touching 97) but with a lot of zip through the zone thanks to an average spin rate of 2,404 rpm.  

He also mixed in 14 change-ups, his best secondary pitch. The two pitches that got him hurt were poorly executed breaking balls.

Rockies leadoff hitter Connor Joe hit Brieske’s second pitch of the game, a spinning slider, into the Tigers bullpen in left field. Then in the third inning with a runner on, he hung a curveball to left-handed hitting Charlie Blackmon. That one ended up in the right-field seats.

BOX SCORE: Rockies 3, Tigers 2

"I know I can throw better breaking balls than that," he said. "The leadoff homer was a slider that was just a spinner, I didn't finish it. The one to Charlie Blackmon, I think it was the right pitch but I got it low and in and you've got to know with a guy like that, you get it into his sweet spot, the way he swings the bat, he's going to hit it."

Still, at no time did he lose composure. Even when he fell behind three straight hitters and walked two in the fourth. He recovered to get Dom Nunez to pop out to shortstop, with Willi Castro making a good running catch with his back to the infield. 

"I was very happy with his composure and his stuff was really good," Hinch said. "His recovery after the first hitter he faced in the big leagues went deep — I'm really proud of him and happy for him."

Those three runs proved to be fatal. The Tigers, after banging out 20 hits and 13 runs in Game 1, were subdued by Rockies lefty Austin Gomber. He shut the Tigers out for six innings, allowing four singles and striking out eight.

MORE: Wojo: We’ll never see anyone like Cabrera again, an authentic, artistic original

MORE: Henning: Miguel Cabrera's sweet swing gives Tigers fans reason to celebrate, appreciate

MORE: Baseball world reacts to Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera joining 3,000-hit club

He was frustrating Tigers hitters with three multi-directional secondary pitches (slider, change-up and knuckle curve). The knuckle curve was especially effective, getting five misses on seven swings.

The Tigers were held to four hits — one of them  was Miguel Cabrera's career hit 3,002 — until the ninth. With two on and two out, Austin Meadows ripped a triple to the gap in right-center. 

But Rockies closer Alex Colome struck out Harold Castro to end the game. 

Hinch said Brieske would get another start next weekend against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

"I'm happy to get this one out of the way," Brieske said. "Now it's time for me to take it like it's my job and know I need to be better next time I'm out there. I know I can be better and that's how I'm processing it right now.

"This isn't a satisfied feeling for me right now. It's more of a, 'I got here but I know I can be a lot better' type of feeling."

Twitter: @cmccosky