Detroit – If nothing else, this loss was a little different from the rest.
The Detroit Tigers affair this season did not close games with the lead. In fact, prior to Friday night, the team was at 34-3 when they are leading after seven runs.
That trend was breached against the Tampa Bay Rays, as the visitors scored three runs for eighth to come back and defeat the Tigers 5-3 at Comerica Park. Brandon Lowe gave the Rays the lead with a couple RBIs, and former Tiger Isaac Paredes added some insurance with one field to the right that Lowe scored in the same inning.
After wasting the lead, the Tigers fell 1-2-3 in the eighth inning. They were able to make some noise in the ninth round with a win on the board, but Colin Butch of Tampa put the Tigers to bed before any goals could be scored.
“We had the lead. The eighth inning. We had Joe Jimenez in the game. So, we had all the chances (to win),” coach AJ Hench said. “We needed to be more perfect in the end because of how the whole game was set up.
“When you have the lead, and with our leader, we always feel like we’re going to win when we have the lead.”
Prior to that, right-handed bowler Brian Garcia started the bout with Detroit and had a historic outing in an unconventional sense.
Garcia, chosen after the game, is the first Tiger bowler since Jefferson “Tommy” Bridges in 1932 to make four rounds or less, walk six rounds and shoot a zero. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but it was effective nonetheless.
In the second half, Garcia made his way to the jam by walking the loaded bases. With the count and two completed, he was able to foul Lowe out of danger.
He followed this up with the third 10-pitch and fourth 14-pitch before being pulled before the fifth, keeping the Ryz scoreless and keeping Detroit ahead.
“I told him in my office after the game, I saw him have some problems and then he would explode on the inside, and that’s ready for him,” Hinch said. “Obviously, you can’t undo the walk, but being able to get in and out of it – whether he’s hitting the ball really hard or whether he’s just trying to give perfect pitches and nibbling – he’s been competitive. Such a nice takeaway.”
Of the 72 pitches that Garcia threw, only 36 were on strike. A lack of control was the trend for all-night Tigers shooters, with Tampa setting a team record by 13 walks before the game was over.
“I don’t really know how to describe it because it’s unusual in the game (and it’s) definitely unusual for our staff,” Hinch said of all the walks his team gave. “We’ve been through tough times since the beginning. Brian couldn’t quite find him and then he managed to escape, you feel good about yourself when you run away, except that you roll in the lineup time after time giving them more hits.
“In the end, the game won’t let you make too many mistakes. Especially with Fastball. That was a bad night on the heap.”
Garcia’s running backing came early by one to the left by Jeimer Candelario in the first half, and Victor Reyes scored from third base. This was RBI Candelario’s ninth since returning from his all-star break.
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After one inning, with Akil Baddoo on first base, Riley Greene fired a 382-foot blast in two stages into the left center field. It was a sinking 87.4 mph down and away that cost Rays righty Corey Kluber, who made six turns and allowed three runs.
Homer Green was the third in his career and the first since July 15.
“Good Kluber,” Hinch said. “Maybe he was throwing a lot of hits, you know? He was around the area a lot and we were able to put some balls in play. Kandy got the big hit and then Riley with Obo Homer.
“And then after that, I think there was a hit or two, but until we gave ourselves a chance in the ninth inning it was pretty calm and their guys did a good job getting some quick hits.”