Jonathan Schoop propels Tigers to doubleheader sweep of Guardians
Detroit — The way Jonathan Schoop was buzzing around the ball field Monday, playing both games of the doubleheader against Cleveland, you’d never know he was 30 years old and grinding through a miserable start to his 10th big-league season.
When the long day ended, Schoop, who came into the game batting under .200 and in a 3-for-24 skid, produced six straight hits, scored three times and knocked in one.
“I know the team needed that,” Schoop said between games. “I know for a fact that if I get going, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Fact. The Tigers swept both games from the Guardians, winning 4-1 in the opener and then 5-3 in the nightcap.
Schoop was central in both wins.
Besides the four hits and his usual flawless defense in Game 1, he stole second base (his second steal of the season) and scored from first base on a double into the left field corner.
“I’ve got some wheels,” Schoop said. “Once a week (laughs).”
In the nightcap, he doubled in the third inning and advanced to third on a ground out to first base by Victor Reyes. Schoop then scored on a grounder by Riley Greene, deftly avoiding the tag of catcher Sandy Leon by sliding around and touching the back of the plate.
“It’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I’ve personally seen him go crazy for a month and carry a team. Maybe this will kickstart him.”
The Tigers broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth on singles by Spencer Torkelson and Reyes and an RBI infield single by Greene.
In the seventh, catcher Eric Haase unloaded on a breaking ball from Cleveland reliever Bryan Shaw and hit it 389 feet over the bullpen in left field. It was his sixth homer of the season and his fourth since June 18.
"It's no secret, if they execute pitches there isn't much you can do," Haase said. "But if you start looking for them in certain counts and you get a back-up one like that, it's a good pitch to hit. The more I am able to string these at-bats together, the more I am looking for those pitches, I'm more comfortable zoning in on those pitches."
Lefty Tyler Alexander rescued starter Alex Faedo in the fourth and quelled the Guardians for 3.1 innings. He gave up two singles and both were erased on double-play balls.
"If we had a player of the game award we would give it to Tyler," Hinch said. "The efficiency, the outs, the zeros."
Since coming off the injured list on June 14, Alexander has allowed just one run in 13.1 innings.
Right-hander Alex Lange struck out the side in the eighth — getting Amed Rosario, Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes.
Joe Jimenez, who hadn't had a save opportunity this season, locked it down in the ninth.
"It's been a while for him in that situation, but he's worked his tail off," Hinch said. "But he pitched exactly as he has in non-leverage, high-leverage situations all year. Pretty awesome day."
It was an unfortunately familiar script played out for Faedo. Called up from Triple-A Toledo to serve as the 27th man in Game 2, the rookie right-hander struggled to get hitters out the second time through the order.
After three scoreless innings, Faedo did not survive the fourth, giving up three runs.
Faedo’s 26th pitch of the fourth inning was his last pitch of the outing. He seemed to aim a 3-2 slider to No. 9 hitter Oscar Mercado. It was an odd-looking delivery and immediately assistant trainer Matt Rankin and Hinch came out to check on him.
"I saw him start to compensate in his delivery," Hinch said. "His hip was sore. You could tell it started to change his delivery a little bit. When we went out there I was glad it wasn't arm-related and I'm glad we caught it. I knew he wasn't going to come out easily."
While Alexander warmed up, Faedo threw two test pitches, bouncing one in the dirt. Hinch pulled him.
The Tigers reported Faedo was dealing with soreness in his right hip.
Faedo had allowed only a walk and a single through three innings. In the fourth, he walked three and yielded three hits. Three runs were in and the bases were still loaded when he departed.
Alexander got Steven Kwan to line out to center to end the inning and keeping the Tigers in the fight, down 3-1.
"The biggest out he got was the first out he got," Hinch said of Alexander. "The game is completely different if they put up a four- or five-spot there instead of three."
But it’s been a recurring theme for Faedo. In his previous start at Arizona, he was tagged for three runs in the fourth. In Boston before that, he gave up three over the fourth and fifth.
The Tigers tied it off Guardians’ rookie lefty Konnor Pilkington in the bottom of the fourth. Pilkington got things started by dropping a pop up by Haase in front of home plate. He and Leon were under it, Pilkington didn’t yield.
After an infield hit by Harold Castro, Schoop singled home Haase and Castro scored on a ground out by Reyes.
Schoop finally made an out in the sixth inning, hitting a line drive that left his bat with an exit velocity of 106 mph right at second baseman Andres Gimenez.
"The environment today was great," Alexander said. "You don't see a doubleheader sweep very often. It's a long day. We've been here a while. But it's great to see us play great baseball."
To clear a roster spot for right-hander Drew Hutchison, who will start against the Guardians Tuesday, the Tigers optioned reliever Will Vest to Triple-A Toledo.
"I hate it for him," Hinch said. "He didn't deserve it. But it's part of having to go to an eight-man bullpen with five starters. He's a Major League reliever and he's pitched great this season.
"He's been a pro but this is part of the business where moves have to be made to accommodate the roster."