DETROIT -- By the time they had dropped a 7-4 decision to the Yankees in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park on Monday afternoon, the Tigers learned something about the future of their club. And the MLB Draft hadn't started yet.It was right-handed reliever Sandy Baez who
DETROIT -- By the time they had dropped a 7-4 decision to the Yankees in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park on Monday afternoon, the Tigers learned something about the future of their club. And the MLB Draft hadn't started yet.
It was right-handed reliever Sandy Baez who gave the Tigers a glimpse of what may be to come when he took over for struggling spot starter Drew VerHagen (0-2) with two outs in the fourth inning. Detroit called up Baez from Double-A Erie as the 26th man for the doubleheader, and his first impression was a strong one.
A stressful stage had been set for Baez, who was making his MLB debut. The first six Yankees hitters reached base to start the fourth, and all got on with a hit. Greg Bird started the inning with a solo home run to right, and after four consecutive singles, Austin Romine hit a 421-foot three-run homer to left-center, as projected by Statcast™, to give the Yanks a 7-1 lead. VerHagen retired the next two batters, but he was pulled after walking Aaron Judge.
Manager Ron Gardenhire was thankful for the innings VerHagen chewed up with another game to play Monday, but it was clear that the Yankees were getting a jump on him.
"If we take him out after he gives up a couple runs, we've got another 14, 15 innings left," said Gardenhire. "We can't do that. We've already been through that enough."
That's what opened the door for Baez, who came on with a runner on first.
"We didn't know how the young man was going to react his first time in the big leagues against those guys," said Gardenhire.
Baez hit Bird after initially getting up 0-2 in the count, but he got out of the inning by recording his first Major League strikeout against Giancarlo Stanton. Baez said through a translator that he'll be taking that strikeout ball with him everywhere he goes now.
Baez faced the minimum three batters in the fifth and seventh innings, then he got out of a small jam in the eighth by getting Aaron Hicks to ground out to second.
"I think once he settled down a little bit and realized if he made his pitches, he was going to get them out," said Gardenhire. "That's what he did. He started using his pitches and he threw the ball great. That's exactly what we were hoping for. We didn't hope he'd have to come in that early, but that's why we brought him up here, because he's been pitching well and we wanted to see where he was at."
Baez finished with 4 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings, while striking out four and walking three.
"I was ready for a day like today," he said.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, their bats didn't seem ready for Luis Severino (9-1), who tossed eight innings while striking out 10 with no walks and only two runs (one earned) allowed.
Nicholas Castellanos provided early offensive sparks, going 2-for-4 with two singles and an RBI that came in the fifth. Castellanos now has 25 multihit games this season. Jose Cabrera brought in a run with a first-inning double, his first extra-base hit since April 28 against the Orioles.
The Tigers started to make it interesting in the ninth with RBI doubles from Niko Goodrum and Jose Iglesias, but pinch-hitter Victor Martinez struck out to cap the threat.
When Cabrera doubled in the first, it marked the 51st consecutive game in which the Tigers have doubled. The streak, which began April 10, is tied with the 1999 Braves for the third-longest since at least 1908. The 1996 Indians, who doubled in 75 straight games, own the top spot.
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The game appeared all but formally over in the top of the ninth when Stanton hit a soft liner to shallow left. Left fielder JaCoby Jones raced in to make a diving grab and get the second out of the inning. Jones raced 64 feet, reaching a top speed of 27.2 feet per second to make the catch.
The Tigers will have a quick turnaround for Game 2 on Monday against the Yankees. Mike Fiers (4-3, 4.45 ERA) will take the mound for Detroit after pitching 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a no-decision on May 30 against the Angels. The Yanks will throw Domingo German (0-3, 5.45 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 9.42 ERA in his past three starts.
Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.