A's spoil Joey Wentz's debut, another scoreless night for Tigers' offense

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Cruel game.

This was not the way Joey Wentz pictured his big-league debut going. All those months grinding, working, rehabbing his way back from Tommy John surgery, it was the dream of finally getting that call to the big leagues that drove him.

Not every big-league debut has a storybook ending.

Athletics Cristian Pache #20 slides to third base against Tiger Jeimer Candelario #46 during the top of the fourth inning.

"It was cool to throw in a Major League game," Wentz said afterward. "But I'm not ignorant to the fact I didn't really give us a chance tonight."

The lefty Wentz lasted just 2.2 innings in his inaugural Major League start Wednesday, tagged for six runs and seven hits and the loss as the Tigers were beaten by the Oakland Athletics, 9-0, at Comerica Park.

"I mean, you can't really do much when I come out in the third inning and we're down 6-0," Wentz said. "We were fighting up hill the rest of the game. Makes it hard."

BOX SCORE: A's 9, Tigers 0

It was a grind right from the start. The first batter he faced, Tony Kemp, the only left-handed hitter in the Athletics’ lineup, battled Wentz for 12 pitches, finally working a walk.

"I never really did settle in," Wentz said. "I was pitching out of the stretch for most of the game. I felt good. I wasn't nervous or anxious. I tried to slow it down but it just didn't work out that well.

"I didn't throw the ball well."

After a wild pitch and a ground out moved Kemp to third, Wentz got Chad Pinder to hit a ground ball right at shortstop Javier Baez.

Baez caught Kemp between third and home and Kemp was finally tagged out after a 6-5-2-6-3 rundown. Pinder, though, got to third and scored on a bloop single by Sean Murphy.

That was the only softly-struck ball off Wentz. He gave up three bullet singles and two runs in the second and a triple to Sheldon Neuse and a two-run double to Kevin Smith in the third. The average exit velocity on balls put in play against him was 94 mph.

Wentz has battled command since coming back from Tommy John surgery and it bit him in his debut. He needed 73 pitches to get eight outs. He walked two and threw a first-pitch strike to just one of his last seven hitters.

"I think my raw pitches play," he said. "What doesn't play is over the dish and belt-high. I'm assuming there was a lot of that today and a lot less on the corners. The overall quality wasn't where it needed to be."

His fastball, too, lost live as the outing went on. He was hitting 96 mph in the first inning, but by the end it was ringing in at 91 and 92.   

"He had a tough night," manager AJ Hinch said. "He was in trouble every inning. I thought he tried to keep going after guys but it was a lot of pitches in a short amount of time. It was a good learning experience for him.

"I know he wanted it to be better. He was very disappointed in the dugout and he was disappointed in my office a couple of minutes ago. It wasn't a great night."

Wentz was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo after the game. Reliever Jason Foley was recalled.

Trusting Tork: Tigers' Hinch not pushing panic button with struggling rookie

Athletics Christian Bethancourt #23 celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring a run against the Tigers during the top of the third inning.

The Tigers' offense, meanwhile, remains stuck.

Oakland starter and lefty Zach Logue was making his second big-league start, though you’d never know it by the way he breezed through the Tigers’ batting order.

He pitches off a relatively low-octane four-seam fastball (89-91 mph) that hitters had been 5 for 14 against coming into the game. But the Tigers couldn’t do much with it.

Logue gave up five hits in seven shutout innings, getting swinging strike-threes against Miguel Cabrera, Spencer Torkelson and Willi Castro. The average exit velocity on the 11 balls put in play against the fastball was a mild 87 mph.

"He pitched well," Torkelson said. "His fastball was deceptive. Analytically, his vertical attack angle comes from a lower (arm) slot so it looks like it's rising a little bit. It plays up and when he throws it at the top, it seems like it keeps going."

Logue got six swings-and-misses and nine called strikes with his four-seam. He got 16 swings-and-misses total, five with his curve ball.

"We should be better and we will be better," Hinch said. "It feels like it's never going to end because of how long it's lasted. But these guys have a track record. I know it's the same questions every night, the same curiosity. We have not found solutions. Rather than talk about problems, we've got to find solutions."

Hinch said the team's energy was good at the start, but once they fell in the deep hole, he could feel the frustration creep in.

"Any given day, this team can break out and that can be the day that sparks us," he said. "We definitely need a spark."

'Not selling out for homers': Trying to make sense of Tigers' lingering power outage

Cabrera did lace a couple of singles off Logue, and had three hits on the night, raising his career hit total to 3,013. He passed Wade Boggs and sits alone at 29 on baseball’s all-time hit list.

The Tigers were 11-24 at this point last season, and ascending. They are 9-22 now and it feels like they are free-falling.

"Everything is contagious," Torkelson said. "Hitting is contagious. Defense is contagious. Pitching is contagious. Winning is contagious. It's just about finding our stride. Once things start to click, everyone is going to get going all at once and it's going to be a lot of fun." 

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky