DETROIT -- Mike Fiers took the mound Friday night against the Indians at Comerica Park for what could have been his final start in a Tigers uniform this season. The rebuilding Tigers figure to be sellers with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline nearing, and the 33-year-old Fiers has been
DETROIT -- Mike Fiers took the mound Friday night against the Indians at Comerica Park for what could have been his final start in a Tigers uniform this season. The rebuilding Tigers figure to be sellers with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline nearing, and the 33-year-old Fiers has been a constant subject of trade speculation.
If Friday was in fact Fiers' final start for the Tigers, it was a bland send-off, as the Indians roughed him up with two home runs on their way to an 8-3 victory in the first game of this weekend series.
Fiers was rolling through four innings with only two hits allowed against an Indians lineup that entered the game with 126 runs scored in July, good for second-most in the Major Leagues. But as it has for most of this season, the long ball eventually came around to bite Fiers. Francisco Lindor, seeing Fiers for the third time in the fifth inning, jumped on a 2-2 fastball, hitting it 421 feet, per Statcast™, to right-center field for a two-run home run. Yonder Alonso temporarily gave the Indians the lead with a solo shot to right in the sixth inning.
"I don't think I got ahead of too many [hitters] early on," Fiers assessed. "I need to make an adjustment and get ahead early and get them on the defensive side instead of those good hitters' counts, 1-0 and 2-0. Just need to be more aggressive."
Fiers has now allowed 20 home runs this season, most among Tigers pitchers. Friday was Fiers' fifth multi-home run game this season. The Indians used two more home runs, including a three-run shot by pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer off Daniel Stumpf in the eighth, to leave the Tigers safely behind.
Fiers signed a one-year deal with the Tigers over the offseason, giving the club a potentially attractive trade chip in anticipation of this situation. Fiers took a no-decision in Friday's loss. He has a 7-6 record with a 3.54 ERA.
"I'm still here now," Fiers said. "I'm not trying to think about it. I'm just going to come in here tomorrow, working and trying to get ready for my next start."
That next start, if it's with the Tigers, would likely be around Aug. 3, since Detroit has a couple of off-days coming up.
Fiers has certainly made himself an appealing commodity for contending teams looking to add bullpen depth. In five July starts, he posted a 2.23 ERA, while striking out 23 and walking seven.
"I feel like that's been me my whole career," Fiers said. "Someone you can rely on, a starter that will give you quality innings and go out and battle for you."
Manager Ron Gardenhire has been candid at times leading up to the Deadline about what it's like to be on a rebuilding team that will likely become sellers. He even said before Friday's game that of course players are paying attention to the rumors and reports. Gardenhire has also maintained that these things are out of his control, and that's what he stuck with when asked after the game about the possibility of Fiers being traded.
"I don't even think about that," Gardenhire said. "He did another nice job for us. It's something that I can't control. I can't worry about it. It is what it is. We just go with the guys that are here, and hopefully he'll be here. If not, he's going to a contender. He's been there before, and that's probably a great thing for him."
The Tigers scored two runs with back-to-back doubles by Nicholas Castellanos and Niko Goodrum in the third inning off Indians starter Carlos Carrasco.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gardenhire has preached the importance of aggressive baserunning all season and his players have responded well. On Saturday, though, the baserunning created more issues than opportunities. Victor Martinez hit a grounder into the shift on the left side but still legged out an infield single. Goodrum didn't stop at third and got caught in a rundown and was eventually tagged out to end the inning. Then in the fifth inning, Jeimer Candelario led off with a single to left that he tried to stretch into a double, but he was thrown out at second by Michael Brantley.
Castellanos continued to smack doubles with a two-bagger in the third inning off Carrasco, driving in Victor Reyes to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Castellanos has 31 doubles this season, tied for fourth in the American League.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Martinez was responsible for the Tigers' third and final run with a solo homer in the sixth inning off Carrasco. It was Martinez's sixth home run of the year and his first at Comerica Park since April 17. With a 2-for-2 performance Friday, Martinez is hitting .500 (9-for-18) over his last five games, with two home runs and six runs scored.
HE SAID IT
"That's where we need to make a professional call and spin a ball every once in a while. I think he threw all fast balls. Somebody tried to say one was a changeup. I don't know about that." -- Gardenhire, on Alonso's single off Joe Jimenez in the eighth inning that featured six straight fastballs
The Tigers continue their weekend series against the Indians with a 6:10 p.m. ET first pitch Saturday. Blaine Hardy (3-3, 3.77 ERA) will get the start for Detroit after original starter Francisco Liriano was scratched due to an allergic reaction. The Tigers will be going up against Mike Clevinger (7-6, 3.43), who struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings is his last start against the Rangers.
** Tyler Fenwick ** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.