Roof falls in on Tigers following another strong start by Alex Faedo
Detroit – The Tigers were down just two runs, thanks to another solid outing by rookie starter Alex Faedo. They still had nine outs to try to get to former Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber.
Then it all blew up.
Jose Ramirez laced a three-run triple in the seventh inning and a 424-foot, two-run homer in the ninth, propelling the Cleveland Guardians to an 8-1 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Saturday.
"He's one of the best players in the game, across the league, across the board," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "He's very dangerous. He controls the strike zone, he's got power, speed, defense — All-Star player every year.
"He demonstrated all of that today."
The Tigers might have lost the services of designated hitter Miguel Cabrera for a day or two, as well. He was pinch-hit for in the eighth. Hinch said Cabrera's back stiffened as he was running to first base on a ground out in the sixth.
There was no immediate update after the game.
Faedo left after throwing a career-high 94 pitches in six innings. And the top of the seventh went immediately awry.
It started with a misplay in center by Daz Cameron. He tracked but didn’t catch a slicing liner by Richie Palacios off reliever Jacob Barnes. Statcast had a 55% catch probability on that ball. It was scored a double. Barnes then walked Myles Straw and Steven Kwan to load the bases with one out.
That brought Ramirez to the plate. Hinch countered with sinker-baller and ground-ball collector Jason Foley and aligned the infield in double-play depth.
Good plan until Foley fell behind Ramirez 2-0.
"When you fall behind him like we did with the bases loaded, it's a death sentence," Hinch said.
Ramirez hit a ground ball, but it left his bat with an exit velocity of 110 mph and whistled inside the bag at first, past diving first baseman Harold Castro and into the right-field corner.
Ramirez is now hitting .330 with 66 extra-base hits and 92 RBIs in 114 games against the Tigers.
The other consistent thorn in the Tigers' side is and has been Bieber. He came in on a streak of six straights starts of 10 or more strikeouts against Detroit. The only other pitcher to post a streak like that against another team was Nolan Ryan.
Nobody is accepting moral victories, of course, but the Tigers did manage to stop that streak. They put more bats on balls against Bieber. Just not with much force. They collected eight hits, seven of them singles, against Bieber, and struck out five times in eight innings.
"He was throwing back-up sliders, which is one of the hardest pitches to hit in baseball," said Robbie Grossman, who slapped Bieber's first pitch of the game for a single. "It was working for him. He never threw two sliders in the same spot."
Grossman wasn't convinced that Bieber was throwing back-up sliders on purpose. Sliders are supposed to break in on left-handed hitters. His were going the other way Saturday.
"I don't think he had a good feel for it," Grossman said. "It was one of those days where it was like, 'This is better than my regular slider.' "
Bieber threw 23 sliders, eight were put in play softly, average exit velocity of 79 mph.
"He threw a lot of strikes, lot of breaking balls that were tough to hit," Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "He got ahead and made it tough on us."
Barnhart struck out on three pitches to end the fifth inning stranding the bases loaded. He also struck out to end the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Emmanuel Clase.
"I accumulated a lot of (stuff) that was negative for us, so when that's the case, it sucks," Barnhart said. "When a team beats you and you have opportunities, myself included, twice, it's tough.
"Thankfully we have a chance to win the series tomorrow."
Harold Castro had three hits, two off Bieber, including the only extra-base hit — a double in the seventh. He scored the Tigers' lone run.
For Faedo, he's allowed two runs or fewer in all five of his big-league starts. The nine runs he's allowed are the second fewest allowed by a Tigers pitcher over his first five starts. Brian DuBois allowed seven in his first five starts in 1989.
"I was happy with the way I threw the baseball," Faedo said. "Going up against a guy like Bieber, you've got to be sharp. He's a Cy Young guy. He had a good day and he beat us."
Faedo's only spot of trouble came in the fourth and it started with a walk to Ramirez. Go figure. It was exacerbated by a couple of elevated change-ups on 1-2 counts to left-handed hitters.
Josh Naylor launched one to the base of the wall in right-center, a run-scoring double. Then with two outs and Naylor at third, Richie Palacios flipped a change-up into left field.
"He got through six and gave up two runs," Barnhart said. "I think he threw the ball exceptionally well. He got out of some jams and he gave us a chance to win until things got out of hand at the end."