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Bullpen steps up, holds off Reds after Fiers exits

Tigers use 7 pitchers; Iglesias adds 3 RBIs, strong defense
August 1, 2018

DETROIT -- It was ironic that manager Ron Gardenhire talked about Wednesday being a possible bullpen day if starter Mike Fiers had been traded before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Fiers wasn't traded. He made his scheduled start at Comerica Park, but the Tigers' 7-4 win over the Reds was still

DETROIT -- It was ironic that manager Ron Gardenhire talked about Wednesday being a possible bullpen day if starter Mike Fiers had been traded before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Fiers wasn't traded. He made his scheduled start at Comerica Park, but the Tigers' 7-4 win over the Reds was still essentially a bullpen game.
Fiers pitched just two innings before exiting with a lower left shin contusion after being hit by a line drive. He got two more outs to finish the second inning, but the Tigers turned to Drew VerHagen in the third. Detroit needed six relievers to secure a two-game sweep of the Reds.
The Tigers announced that X-rays on Fiers' shin came back negative. It was Fiers' shortest start since he lasted 1 2/3 innings in June 2013.

"He got smoked," Gardenhire said. "He got hit square right on his shin. … He pitched through that inning, but he wasn't in very good shape, so we got him out of there and went to bullpen."
Fiers was making his first start since the non-waiver Trade Deadline. General manager Al Avila said Tuesday he received "mild interest" in Fiers from the A's and Brewers, but talks didn't get serious.
VerHagen (2-2) was good for three shutout innings in relief, giving up three hits and striking out two. It was his fifth scoreless outing in seven appearances following a five-game stretch in June in which he posted a 12.46 ERA.
"He stepped up, and he's been doing that," Gardenhire said. "He's been throwing the ball really well. He's stretched out a little bit, so he ate up a few innings there and was really good."

With Blaine Hardy in the rotation for the injured Michael Fulmer, VerHagen was the go-to pitcher as the Tigers tried to eat up innings. Fortunately, the only bullpen arm used in Tuesday's win was closer Shane Greene, since Matthew Boyd went eight innings.
"You know you're probably gonna have to turn the order over," Daniel Stumpf said of the challenge of going into a game so early and suddenly. "They need some length out of you to bridge that gap. My job is to keep it within striking distance and throw strikes."
VerHagen got help from Niko Goodrum in the fourth inning, whose play opposite of shortstop Jose Iglesias has solidified him as the everyday second baseman. With one out and runners on first and second, Goodrum backhanded a sharp grounder from Mason Williams to start a 4-6-3 double play. Goodrum then fielded a grounder from Phillip Ervin and flipped to first to end the frame.

After Stumpf pitched a scoreless sixth inning, Alex Wilson allowed five straight hits to trim the Tigers' lead to 6-4. All four of the Reds' runs were charged to Wilson.
"Willy just didn't have it," Gardenhire said. "He couldn't make a pitch."
Louis Coleman gave up a sixth straight hit to tighten the lead to 6-4. The inning was salvaged by a 1-3-2 double play in which first baseman Ronny Rodriguez made a quick transfer to home to throw out Curt Casali, who was trying to score on the throw to first.

"They played great the whole game," VerHagen said of the defense. "Even after I was out, that play at home, with Coleman to Ronny to the catcher, that was a huge play. They played awesome today."
Joe Jimenez started the eighth with six straight balls, but he escaped without giving up a run. Greene recorded his 23rd save of the season.

Assisting in the bullpen's patch job was an offense that strung together 14 hits. Jim Adduci, who started the day at first base, went 2-for-2 with a single and home run. Adduci's second home run of the season traveled 424 feet, per Statcast™. Rodriguez pinch-hit for Adduci when the Reds brought in left-hander Wandy Peralta, and Rodriguez also went 2-for-2, including an RBI double.

Iglesias' all-around game: Iglesias supplemented his strong defense with three RBIs and aggressive baserunning. He snuck a double down the left-field line that scored two runs with one out in the second inning. The relay from the outfield would have made Adduci's run close, but a throwing error by third baseman Eugenio Suarez let the run score standing up. Iglesias advanced to third on the error.

In the sixth inning, JaCoby Jones hit a two-out single to Ervin, whose throwing error allowed Iglesias to score and Jones to go to second. The Reds had two throwing errors on the day.

"We always try to be aggressive. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't." said Gardenhire after the game. "We're looking -- anytime they give us an opportunity to steal or something -- we're always looking for those opportunities. We run hard around the bases until our coaches stop them. That's the way it was today. There were some aggressive sends by [third-base coach Dave Clark], and they worked out. They were throwing the ball around a little bit, so it worked out today."
Goodrum's defense was a boon for Tigers pitching, but he also contributed at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double. Five of Goodrum's last six hits have been for extra bases, with four doubles and a home run.
With leadoff hitter Joey Votto on in the eighth, Jimenez was facing the dangerous Suarez, who blooped a full-count offering to center field. Jones, who threw out a tagging runner at home from center Tuesday, fielded the ball and made a throw on the run to second for a force out of Votto. After a 1 minute, 11 second replay, the out call was confirmed.

"Anytime you make plays like that in a game, it gives you a little bit of momentum and kinda takes the air out of the other team." Jones said after the game.
The Tigers head west for a three-game series against the A's that begins with a 10:05 p.m. ET first pitch on Friday. Hardy (4-3, 3.61 ERA) will make his third consecutive start for the Tigers. Hardy has a 4.01 ERA in 10 starts this season. The A's will send out Brett Anderson (2-3, 5.55), who gave up four runs on eight hits in his last start against the Rockies.

** Tyler Fenwick ** is a reporter for based in Detroit.