DETROIT -- Neither a red-hot Tigers squad nor flexible scheduling could contend with Mother Nature on Saturday. Detroit’s matinee against Cincinnati was rained out, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday -- potentially the first doubleheader of seven-inning games in Major League history.
Sunday’s first game will start at 12:10 p.m. ET. The second game will start about 30 minutes after the first game ends.
The Tigers had moved up Saturday’s start time from 6:10 p.m. ET to 1:10 p.m. ET to try to avoid the rain, which was expected to hit at some point Saturday evening and continue into Sunday. The early arrival was a surprise.
Both of Saturday’s scheduled starters, Detroit’s Michael Fulmer and Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer, were warming in their respective bullpens when the rain began around 1 p.m. While position players stretched in the outfield, the Comerica Park grounds crew covered the pitcher's mound and home plate before grabbing the tarp.
About an hour later, the game was called, sending the Tigers back home and the Reds back to their team hotel.
The weather might well have also delayed Casey Mize’s Major League debut. The Tigers’ top prospect had been speculated as an option for Sunday, but with rain still in the forecast, the Tigers are going in a different direction.
Rule 5 pick Rony Garcia, who started on Tuesday against the Royals, will start Game 1. Daniel Norris, who missed Summer Camp while in COVID protocol and opened the season on the 10-day injured list so he could work out and stretch his arm in Toledo, is scheduled to return and start Game 2.
Both games are scheduled for seven innings after Major League Baseball announced Friday that doubleheaders this season will be seven-inning games due to the effects on rosters and the need to reschedule games due to dynamic circumstances.
Castellanos praises Tigers’ camaraderie
One year to the day after Nick Castellanos was traded from the Tigers to the Cubs, he played his first game as a visiting player at Comerica Park on Friday. He had praise for the Tigers when asked after the game if they might be better than they get credit for being.
“Their camaraderie is second-to-none. That’s extremely important on a team that wins,” Castellanos told Reds reporters. “All of those guys have been in the trenches now for a couple of years. When you’re in the trenches together and you’ve got to lean on one another, that builds character on a team. Eventually, I think, that is a good recipe for battling each and every night.”
Castellanos was a Tiger for all but the final two months of last year’s 114-loss season.
“You lose 114 games and you try to find a silver lining in the middle of that,” Gardenhire said. “Some guys gained experience, they learned, and they learned to trust each other. Because when you’re going through a season like that, you have to find ways to stick together, and I thought our guys did a really nice job of playing hard all year and had each other’s back. And that’s a growing experience in itself when you have each other’s back going through that, because it can turn ugly.
“It’s not fun for anybody involved, but honestly, I didn’t feel that bad about it, because I knew they gave us everything they had.”
There is a W in Turnbull
Spencer Turnbull was putting together an early resume for the American League Rookie of the Year Award consideration when he beat the Braves on May 31, 2019. With one earned run over six innings in Atlanta, he improved to 3-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.84.
Turnbull had some hard-luck games in those four losses. But nobody would’ve imagined he’d go without a win in his next 19 starts, setting a Tigers franchise record.
Turnbull went 0-13 in that stretch, despite recording 90 strikeouts over 86 2/3 innings. He said it never weighed on him.
“I felt like I pitched some good games the second half of the year, just didn’t up the actual win stat,” Turnbull said. “I really don’t care for that stat at all, a very skewed stat in my opinion, the least important stat for me as a pitcher. There are many other stats that I value a lot more. I don’t think it’s worthless, but it’s definitely not high up on the totem pole for me. Team wins, it’s a totally different situation.”
Asked if he felt like the winless streak got into Turnbull’s head, Gardenhire smiled.
“That’s a place you really don’t want to be, in his head,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a different cat. He’s a lot of fun. But I try not to get into his head. Don’t do it, because you can get lost in there. He goes a lot of different routes.”