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Tigers drop 2018 finale as Turnbull struggles

Detroit finishes 64-98 for second straight season
September 30, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Pitchers are trained to block out the noise around them as they prepare to deliver the ball, but Spencer Turnbull couldn't help but notice the "M-V-P" chants as Christian Yelich stepped to the plate as the second batter of his third Major League start."Hearing them chant 'M-V-P,' I

MILWAUKEE -- Pitchers are trained to block out the noise around them as they prepare to deliver the ball, but Spencer Turnbull couldn't help but notice the "M-V-P" chants as Christian Yelich stepped to the plate as the second batter of his third Major League start.
"Hearing them chant 'M-V-P,' I was like, 'I can't let this guy beat me,'" Turnbull said. "Just nibbled a little bit, tried to pitch around him too much and wasn't aggressive. … And after walking him, it got loud. It just sped up on me a little bit."
The Tigers' attempts to play spoiler at Miller Park this weekend fell short, following up a pair of comeback losses with an 11-0 defeat on Sunday. But while the Brewers headed to Wrigley Field for a National League Central tiebreaker game Monday, Detroit headed home for the offseason with lessons learned.
This is where the Tigers want to be, playing meaningful games at season's end -- for their fate, not somebody else's. This is where Turnbull wants to be, putting the Tigers' fortunes on his strong right arm in big games.
"It's such a great experience," Turnbull said. "Cleveland, I thought was loud. This was just unbelievable, just crazy, this atmosphere."
Turnbull took the loss Sunday, but his seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings included a pair of swings-and-misses from Yelich, the frontrunner for the NL Most Valuable Player Award, as part of a stretch that saw him retire 13 of 14 Brewers. Yelich's second strikeout, a mighty swing at an 88-mph cutter, was the last of four consecutive strikeouts from Turnbull before back-to-back singles set up his exit in the sixth.
"I was proud of myself for not nibbling against Yelich the next couple times," Turnbull said, "knowing he's probably the hottest hitter on the planet right now. I think I just let that get into my head a little bit that first at-bat, but after that I was like, 'No, I'm not going to be scared against anybody.'"
Yelich, who homered three times over the first two games of the series, went 0-for-2 with two walks, two strikeouts and two runs scored. He homered, walked or struck out in every plate appearance of the series. No Tigers defender had a play on him.
"I tip my cap to Turnbull," catcher James McCann said. "Third career start, facing an MVP who's demolishing the baseball right now, and he didn't back down."

That's what Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire wants from his pitchers, a willingness to pound the strike zone. That's what Gardenhire wanted from his team this weekend. A six-run seventh inning from the Brewers helped put the game out of reach, but the Tigers packed up feeling like they gained something from the weekend.
"We played really hard the first two games and gave them a battle," center fielder JaCoby Jones said. "We battled against a team that's going to the playoffs this year. They just played good baseball all-around, and we couldn't capitalize."
There was little on which to capitalize on Sunday. Unlike Friday and Saturday, when the Tigers jumped out to 3-0 leads, Detroit's offense never get going Sunday against starter Giovany Gonzalez and the Brewers' bullpen, sending them to their 18th shutout defeat of the season -- their highest total in a season since 1976 and matching their 1952 team for third-most shutouts in franchise history.
The Tigers ended the season with five straight losses, finishing with a 64-98 record for the second straight year. But they finished with something to take into next year and beyond, when they hope games like this weekend mean something for them, too.
"We're tired. These guys put a lot of effort into this series," Gardenhire said. "We had a long talk today, these guys really got after it. The record doesn't indicate anything like we wanted it to. But these guys really played their tails off all year long."
SOUND SMART
Nicholas Castellanos needed two hits Sunday for a .300 season, but he finished 1-for-4 with a double to close at .298. No Tigers player has hit .300 in a season with at least 500 at-bats since Jose Cabrera in 2016, and no one besides Cabrera has batted .300 with at least 500 at-bats for the Tigers in a season since Victor Martinez in '14.

HE SAID IT
"This is what baseball is supposed to come down to -- an exciting playoff race. For us, not in the race, it's nice to be part of a scene like this. Our players get a chance to feel it, and it's fun. It's fun baseball." -- Gardenhire

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.