Pineda crushed by Guardians as Tigers limp toward break

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cleveland — There is rain in the forecast for Sunday. No jury would convict the Tigers for rooting for a deluge.

Their pitching staff is in tatters after veteran starter Michael Pineda endured the worst of his 178 career starts, giving up eight runs in two innings as the Tigers were routed by the Cleveland Guardians 10-0 Saturday at Progressive Field.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Pineda walks off the field after giving up five runs to the Cleveland Guardians during the second inning.

"This was my worst start in major league baseball," Pineda said. "I don't feel happy with that. But I am going to put everything behind me and continue to keep my head up and just continue working."

The timing of Pineda's short start was bad. With a bullpen start planned for Sunday, relievers had to eat five innings. And reinforcements are limited. There are no healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster, so to add a pitcher, a corresponding 40-man roster move would be necessary.

"It's not ideal," manager AJ Hinch said. "Michael just didn't have it from the get-go. From the beginning it looked like he was battling himself, throwing fastballs in fastball counts. He couldn't quite land the pitches he needed to." 

Guardians All-Star Jose Ramirez hit a three-run homer in the first inning and a two-run shot in the second. Pineda also gave up a two-run double to Amed Rosario and an RBI double to Myles Straw.

BOX SCORE: Guardians 10, Tigers 0

"They see all my pitches really good today," Pineda said. "I don't know what happened. But they see my fastball really good. They see my change-up really good. They got me today."

The carnage continued against rookie right-hander Angel De Jesus, making his second big-league appearance and first since April 23. After a scoreless third, he got the first two outs in the fourth. Then he threw a 92-mph sinker over the heart of the plate to Josh Naylor.

That ball ended up in the shrubs in center field, a 414-foot home run. And De Jesus didn’t record another out. He hit two batters and gave up two singles before leaving with the bases loaded.

Will Vest cleaned up that mess and pitched a scoreless fifth. Joe Jimenez and Jason Foley each worked a scoreless inning. 

Harold Castro, who started the game at third base, pitched the eighth — a scoreless eighth. It was the fourth time this season he's pitched for the Tigers, the seventh in the last two seasons. 

He is tied with four others for the most pitching appearances by a position player among active players.  

Interestingly, when Hinch brought Castro in to pitch, he sent catcher Tucker Barnhart out to play third base — a position he had never played in the big leagues — instead of putting a healthy Jeimer Candelario in the game.

"I'm going to continue to give Candy time off," Hinch said. "I'm not playing him tomorrow either. I told him yesterday he was going to have the weekend off. We've got to get him a fresh start after the break in Oakland."

Lefty Tyler Alexander is expected to be the first reliever used Sunday. The club's leverage relievers will be available — Alex Lange, Michael Fulmer, Andrew Chafin and All-Star closer Gregory Soto. 

"We will go with Tyler and everybody will probably pitch," Hinch said. 

Alexander hasn't thrown more than 40 pitches in an outing since April.

The Tigers offense had one shot to do some damage and it was in the first inning, before Pineda even threw a pitch. They loaded the bases with two outs against starter Cal Quantrill. Riley Greene and Harold Castro singled and Eric Haase walked.

After a mound visit by Guardians pitching coach Carl Willis, Jonathan Schoop swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second.

The Tigers mustered three hits the rest of the way, with the ultimate ignominy of Harold Castro getting thrown out at the plate in the ninth trying to score from first on a double by Haase, down 10-0. 

MORE: Hinch argues to no avail after umpire awards an out on a ball caught in the dugout

If ever there was a team in dire need of a full All-Star break it’s these spiraling Tigers. They have lost eight of their last nine and have fallen a season-worst 18 games under .500 (37-55).

Of course, because of the rejiggered, post-lockout schedule, they don’t get a “break.”

“More like a couple of days off,” Hinch said.

While most teams will be enjoying a couple extra days off, the Tigers will be flying to Oakland for a doubleheader next Thursday.

“No one is thrilled about playing this dumb doubleheader," Haase said. "Whoever scheduled that, that can never happen again. It’s the only time of the year where you can kind of try to get back on track and try to start fresh and all of a sudden we have a doubleheader.”

The struggle right now is real. @cmccosky