3 takeaways after a wild comeback fell short vs. Cleveland

July 10th, 2024

DETROIT -- The last time the Tigers overcame a six-run deficit to win a game, they rallied past six home runs from the Yankees to win despite just two extra-base hits. That was Sept. 10, 2019, a dramatic win that provided one of the few highlights from a 114-loss season.

Yet as ’s 10th-inning fly ball off Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase floated into Comerica Park’s spacious center field with the potential tying run on third Tuesday night, the Tigers thought for a split second that they had a chance to match that.

“I thought maybe, if I was lucky,” Malloy said after the Tigers’ 9-8 loss. “But I’ll pray a little bit more tonight. Hopefully tomorrow it falls.”

Simply getting to that point was arguably a step forward. The Tigers had won four in a row since 's disastrous start in Minnesota last week resulted in a fairly humdrum 12-3 loss. Tuesday’s outing could have easily unfolded similarly with Detroit staring at a 6-0 deficit in the middle of the third. This Tigers offense isn’t accustomed to putting up seven runs in a game very often, let alone when trailing big early.

The Tigers picked themselves up with help from three home runs. And while Tuesday’s loss leaves a lot to sort out with five games before the All-Star break, it also shows a lot of fight compared to the difficult stretch Detroit endured in June.

“I’m incredibly proud of this group for tonight,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We kept chipping away, which is what we were saying in the dugout: Just keep giving yourself a chance. And then we had a big inning and, man, the adrenaline kicked in, the fans got loud and then we had a chance at the end, both in the ninth and the 10th.”

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s comeback and what necessitated it:

1) Young bats picking up the power

The patience with rookie hitters continues to show signs of paying off. , who seemed to benefit from batting in front of red-hot All-Star Riley Greene over the last couple weeks, is becoming a presence in his own right. His two-run homer in the third inning started Detroit’s comeback off Guardians starter Ben Lively before his opposite-field ground-ball single led off a game-tying four-run sixth.

Malloy, meanwhile, is batting .320 (8-for-25) with three home runs in seven games since June 29, matching his hit total from his first 21 big league games before that. After Gio Urshela’s three-run homer chased Lively in the sixth, Malloy’s solo homer tied it off Nick Sandlin.

“I think it’s just trying to stack up good at-bats and good days,” Malloy said, “doing the little things right in my at-bats and winning at the margins. If I continue to do that, it’s just stacking that confidence up. That’s all I want.”

2) Bullpen saves the day

The Tigers had a chance to chip away at Lively because Detroit’s bullpen quieted Cleveland’s explosive offense after Maeda’s third-inning exit. Joey Wentz and Beau Brieske combined for five innings with one run allowed and six strikeouts, saving Detroit’s leverage relief corps for the eighth inning in a tie game. It was the first multi-inning scoreless game for Brieske since June 21, and Wentz’s longest outing with one earned run or less since he tossed 2 1/3 scoreless on April 13.

3) What’s next for Maeda?

For now, it sounds like at least a break from the rotation for Maeda, who has given up 15 runs on 16 hits in his last two starts, covering just 6 1/3 innings as his ERA has jumped to 7.26. He gave up three runs within his first four batters Tuesday.

“The [All-Star] break’s coming at a good time,” Hinch said. “Obviously the No. 1 goal is to get him right and we’ve gotta unlock the things that he needs to do to be more effective.”

Maeda sounded open to ideas.

“Nothing’s really going right at this point,” Maeda said through translator Dai Sekizaki. “I’m causing too much trouble to the team, and I feel sorry about that.”