Twins 2, Tigers 0: Twin City Blues

After a tough Monday night loss in which the Tigers battled to tie the game, only to lose it in the bottom of the ninth, Detroit obediently lost to the Twins in Game 2 of the series 2-0.

The pitching game featured Beau Brieske, making the sixth major league career start, against Sonny Gray, the veteran in his tenth season, mostly with Oakland and Cincinnati.

Brieske’s last start, a week ago in Detroit against the Rays, didn’t go well. He struggled, giving up six runs in five innings – but he pitched in the sixth, so that’s something, I guess. Apparently he’s also working on a new handle for his slider.

Gray’s first four starts of the year were very limited innings: in three of them he didn’t come out of the fifth, and in another he didn’t come out of the second. His previous start before tonight, against Oakland, was vintage Gray: six innings, two runs, no walk, five strikeouts. Gray also likes to do a little Johnny Cueto impersonation, as he sometimes hesitates a bit in his movement. I do not like it.

The Twins drew first blood on their first hit, late in the second: A walk to Max Kepler was followed by an out later by a Gio Urshela on-bat single. Kepler was running downfield and rounding third when Willi Castro in left field threw…not to shortstop Javier Báez, but to second base. Báez seemed to be yelling at Castro to pitch second for some reason, so we’ll share the blame. Either way, Kepler scored easily.

The Tigers prepared a little something in the top of the third: a double from Jonathan Schoop, followed by a walk from Miguel Cabrera, put two runners with two out. But then Báez hit on a sweeping outside slider, and that was it.

Minnesota added late in the third, with a single from Luis Arraez followed by a brace from Carlos Correa, making it 2-0, which completed the score for the night.

And then… Byron Buxton.

You gotta give Buxton a thumbs up for that one.

Brieske had more trouble in the bottom of the fourth, with an Urshela single followed by a Jose Miranda double ripped from the left field wall with one out. But here’s another great defensive play, this time shot by the Tigers’ midfielder:

Brieske finished after four innings and 90 pitches: he allowed six hits and two runs (both earned), walked one and struck out three. Notably, he didn’t give up a home run, which is an improvement. Jason Foley, who has been a valuable and effective inning eater outside the bullpen, pitched the fifth. With one out, Luis Arraez chose the wall on the right and Carlos Correa walked, then Gary Sánchez walked on a very height limit that could have gone either way. Max Kepler, who hit a grand slam in last night’s game, loaded the bases again … and flew out to short left field. Gilberto Celestino then eased out first to end the eventful run without incident.

Jacob Barnes took over from Foley in the sixth and, despite a walk and a single, got a double play pitch and a nice sliding stoppage play from Jeimer Candelario at third base. Meanwhile, Gray continued to drive through the seventh, throwing the fastball but mixing some really nice curveballs, keeping Tiger’s hitters off balance all night and striking out ten.

Michael Fulmer pitched the bottom of the seventh, and at this point, knowing the Tigers have a bullpen day tomorrow, I’m just wondering, heck, could we please take out two innings someone this evening?! Fulmer surprised a few people by throwing a whole bunch of nice curveballs, which he hasn’t thrown much since becoming a reliever, and in doing so he hit the side.

Gray gave way to Tyler Duffey in the eighth, who made the Tigers pretty dumb with all sorts of weird half swings.

Drew Carlton — who, by the way, grew up in Lakeland, Fla. — made his second appearance for the Tigers this year in the bottom of the eighth. He got a few weak ground balls and one strikeout, needing eight pitches to do it.

Jhoan Duran pitched the ninth for the Twins, and his medium three-digit fastball speed clocks (that’s 100 MPH for you and me). Nonetheless, Cabrera was able to fight off a 102 mph fastball and drive it into right field for a single to lead the inning. Javier Báez took off weakly, but with one out Candelario’s forearm was grazed by a curveball to put two runners up. Candelario was lifted for pinch runner Daz Cameron but it was for naught as Willi Castro dug in a 6-3 double play.

Bring the robots umps

Pitch #2, called strike against Miguel Cabrera in the first inning, courtesy of CB Bucknor. Bullshit, I say!

Always striving to outdo himself… I’ll let you guess which of those red circles represents a pitch that Robbie Grossman saw in the eighth for a called strike. Go ahead, guess.

(Hint: it was do not #3.)

Next Up: Hats for bats. Keep bats warm.

In case you missed it, the Tigers recently burned some palo santo wood in the clubhouse, which may (or may not) “kill the negative energy.” You know what, at this point, go ahead and give it a try. It can’t hurt… although, I guess if you’re not careful, you could burn down the clubhouse.

Notes and Observations

  • I already noted that I was a bit surprised that Beau Brieske’s real first name was actually Beau. Turns out Sonny Gray’s real first name is… Sonny. Surprised by that too. He always assumed it was a nickname because he had the same name as his father or something.
  • Matt Manning didn’t make it out of the second inning today when he left for rehab with Triple-A Toledo. Not great, Bob!
  • I noticed that Derek Hill was not wearing a batting glove inside his field glove. Most people do. Take care.
  • The Tigers had six losses at Minnesota since the start of the 2020 season, including last night. It blows my mind.
  • Robbie Grossman has really been running hot and cold since mid-April. From April 21 to May 5, in 13 games and 52 plate appearances, Grossman’s slant line was .372/.462/.465 for an OPS of .927. But from May 6-23, in 16 games and 67 plate appearances, he slashed .088/.224/.105 for a pitcher-like OPS of .329. In the final stretch, his BABIP was a paltry .132.
  • Happy 203rd birthday to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, born on this day in 1819. As some of you may know, Victoria Day is a holiday celebrated throughout the Commonwealth; in Canada, it’s always the Monday before May 24 (or the actual 24, if it’s a Monday). It is also colloquially referred to as “May 2-4”, as a “two-four” of beer is another name for a case of 24 beers.

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