Torkelson's career day lifts Tigers after another pitching injury

June 29th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- could do no wrong on Thursday, as the hard-hitting infielder’s first career multi-home run performance helped fuel the Tigers' 8-5 win over the Rangers at Globe Life Field.

But injuries continued to haunt the Tigers’ pitching, as Detroit’s No. 11 prospect, , exited in the second inning with a left knee contusion.

Olson took a comeback line drive off his left knee off the bat of Josh H. Smith. Olson is the third Tigers pitcher to exit a game with injury this series, as Matthew Boyd and Will Vest also suffered injuries against Texas, putting even more stress on an already ailing Detroit pitching staff.

“The X-rays were negative, which is a good sign,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “It [revealed] a contusion, which doesn’t sound as bad as it probably hurts. So, we’ll see over the next couple of days what it’s like, but it was obviously scary.

“I don’t love seeing another starter go down to the ground and in a lot of pain. So, fortunately, it sounds like just a big bruise and we’ll see what happens.”

Prior to Thursday’s matchup, Detroit boasted one of nine Major League bullpens to log 300+ innings this season. The 317 1/3 innings were the third-most in the American League.

Now, with yet another starter sidelined with injury, the team will have to continue to be creative in rotating arms out of the bullpen to keep everyone fresh.

The Tigers offense -- powered by Torkelson’s career day at the plate -- did an excellent job of giving their pitchers some breathing room, scoring eight runs on 11 hits against Texas.

Detroit got the bats rolling early, tacking on two runs in the top of the second inning.

Jake Marisnick helped the Tigers jump on the board with a triple to the alley in deep center field to score Jake Rogers. In the following at-bat, Matt Vierling poked an RBI single to left-center field to extend the Tigers' lead to 2-1.

With the score tied at 2 in the top of the fifth inning, Torkelson hammered an 0-1 fastball to left field for a solo home run. The towering blast was rocketed 107.2 mph off the bat and traveled 394 feet before ricocheting off the foul pole.

“I just feel like myself,” Torkelson said. “I’m getting good pitches to drive and putting a good swing on them.”

In the top of the eighth inning, Torkelson smashed a three-run home run to give Detroit an 8-3 lead. His second home run gave him a career-high four RBIs in a single game and lifted him into the team lead with 11 homers on the season.

Ahead of Torkelson’s big day at the plate, Tigers veteran Miguel Cabrera imparted some wisdom on the young infielder and advised him to trust himself at the plate.

“We were in the cage before the game, and I didn’t feel great,” Torkelson said. “Miggy came up to me and was just like, ‘Trust your hands and go to the big part of the field.’

“I was just like, 'Oh, all right.' It’s what my dad told me a week ago too, but it’s a little different coming from Miggy. So, hearing it from him, I just kind of believed it.”

Although the Rangers threatened with a ninth-inning rally and narrowed the lead to three runs, the Tigers were able to escape with the victory and a series split.

“We’ll take the split based on how it was [with so many injuries],” Hinch said. “Our bullpen logged a lot of innings, unexpectedly, but we leave here on a good note. We’re gonna have a happy flight. We split a series against a first-place team and held our own and a lot of guys contributed.”