Saturday, June 22, 2024
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MLB Preview: Detroit Tigers (21-24) at Kansas City Royals (14-35)

DETROIT TIGERS NOTES:

TIGERS OUTLAST ROYALS IN SERIES OPENER: The Tigers defeated the Royals, 8-5, in 10 innings in the series opener last night at Kauffman Stadium. Javier Báez broke a 5-5 tie with a threerun double in the top of the 10th inning. José Cisnero pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th for his first save of the season. Báez finished the game with three hits, while Matt Vierling also had three hits, including a homer, and drove in four runs. Michael Lorenzen started and tossed 5.2 innings, allowing five runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Alex Lange picked up the win, working two hitless frames with one walk and two strikeouts.

JAVY IN THE CLUTCH: Javier Báez snapped out of an 0x19 skid last night, recording three hits, including a go-ahead, three-run double in the 10th inning. It marked his ninth career go-ahead hit in extra innings (last, September 6, 2022 at Los Angeles (AL)). Báez posted his 16th career game with three-or-more hits and three-or-more RBI (last, September 24, 2022 at Chicago (AL).

LOCKDOWN LANGE: Alex Lange picked up his second win of the season last night, pitching 2.0 hitless innings with one walk and two strikeouts. Lange has not allowed a run in 16 straight games, the longest streak of his career and the longest active streak among Major League relievers. Over those 16 outings, he has thrown 16.2 scoreless innings with five hits allowed, seven walks and 27 strikeouts. Entering tonight’s game, Lange ranks tied for seventh in the American League with eight saves.

TAKE YOUR BASE: The Tigers drew 10 walks in last night’s game, the second time this season Detroit has taken 10 base on balls in a game (other, April 27 vs. Baltimore). The Tigers have taken eight-or-more walks in consecutive games, the first time they have done so since June 13- 14, 2016. Spencer Torkelson drew four free passes in last night’s game, the most walks in a game by a Tigers batter since J.D. Martinez also drew four walks on May 16, 2017 vs. Baltimore.

TIGERS AND ROYALS: The Tigers and Royals continue their 13-game season series tonight. Detroit went 10-9 against Kansas City last season with the two teams splitting 10 meetings at Kauffman Stadium. The Tigers have won the season series over the Royals just twice since 2015.

AGAINST THE AL CENTRAL: The Tigers continue divisional play tonight against the Royals. Detroit has played seven games against AL Central opponents in 2023, going 5-2 so far this season (4-2 vs. Cleveland, 1-0 vs. Kansas City). The Tigers have finished below .500 against AL Central foes in each of the last five 162-game seasons, including a 34-42 record last season.

ON THE ROAD: The Tigers are 2-2 on their six-game road trip, which includes three games at Washington (1-2) and three games at Kansas City (1-0). Detroit has an 11-14 record away from Comerica Park this season. As a team, the Tigers are hitting .223/.297/.343 on the road, while the
pitching staff has a 4.54 ERA (218.0IP/110ER).

TIGERS ON THE IL:

  • RHP Beau Brieske (right upper arm discomfort, 60-day IL on March 30, retroactive to March 27)
  • OF Kerry Carpenter (right shoulder sprain, 10-day IL on April 29, retroactive to April 28)
  • RHP Matt Manning (right foot fracture, 60-day IL on April 12)
  • OF Austin Meadows (anxiety, 60-day IL on April 8, retroactive to April 7)
  • RHP Casey Mize (right elbow sprain, 60-day IL on February 17)
  • RHP Freddy Pacheco (right elbow sprain, 60-day IL on March 27)
  • LHP Tarik Skubal (left elbow strain, 60-day IL on March 14)
  • RHP Spencer Turnbull (neck discomfort, 15-day IL on May 12, retroactive to May 7)
  • RHP Trey Wingenter (right biceps tendinitis, 15-day IL on April 22, retroactive to April 19)

TONIGHT’S TIGERS STARTING PITCHER – #57 Eduardo Rodriguez • 4-3, 2.06 ERA (56.2IP/13ER)

  • Rodriguez will make his 10th start of the series tonight at Kansas City.
  • Suffered the loss in his last start on Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh, allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts in 5.0 innings.
  • Had six consecutive starts with at least 5.0 innings pitched and one run-or-less allowed from April 12-May 10, the longest streak of his career, and tied with Michael Fulmer (May 21-June 17, 2016) and Al Benton (April 19-May 20, 1945) for the second-longest streak in franchise history…over that stretch, he compiled a 4-0 record with a 0.43 ERA (41.2IP/2ER) and 41 strikeouts…according to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 0.43 ERA was tied with Doug Fister for the second lowest by a Tigers pitcher over a six-start span since 1913, trailing only Al Benton, who had a 0.33 ERA over six starts in 1945.
  • Has made eight starts in his career against the Royals, posting a 3-1 record with a 4.40 ERA (43.0IP/21ER) and 29 strikeouts…in two career starts at Kauffman Stadium, he has a 2-0 record with a 2.25 ERA (12.0IP/3ER) and 12 strikeouts.
  • Since 2018, he has a .667 winning percentage, which ranks eighth among all active Major League pitchers over that span (min. 100 starts).

KANSAS CITY ROYALS NOTES:

EXTRA FRUSTRATING: The Royals suffered an 8-5 loss in 10 innings to the Tigers last night to begin this 6-game homestand…they twice overcame multi-run deficits, erasing a 3-0 hole in the top of the 1st with a 3-run bottom half on back-to-back home runs by Vinnie Pasquantino and Salvador Perez…after Matt Vierling’s 2-run HR in the 3rd, Jackie Bradley Jr. snapped an 0-for-26 skid with a 2-run HR in the 5th…the game remained tied until the 10th, when Javier Báez hit a bases-clearing double off Scott Barlow…the Royals had two on with no outs in the bottom half for the top of the lineup, but 2 strikeouts and a flyout ended the game.

The Royals are 0-2 in extra innings this year—both 8-5 losses—and since the Auto Runner Rule was instituted in 2020, they are 10-14 in extra-inning games and have scored the auto runner in 16 of 32 innings.

The Royals have lost 4 straight games and 8 of their last 10 to fall to a season-high 21 games under .500.

Royals pitchers last night issued a season-high-tying 10 walks (also May 15 in San Diego) and recorded 12 strikeouts…it marked just their 9th game in franchise history in which Royals pitchers had double digit walks and strikeouts, and the 1st such game since June 23, 2021 at Yankee Stadium (11 walks, 10 strikeouts).

ROSTER MOVE: The Royals today selected the contract of right hander Nick Wittgren (No. 64) from Triple-A Omaha…Wittgren, who turns 32 next Monday, signed with the Royals last offseason on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training…the seven-year big league veteran with Miami (2016-18), Cleveland (2019-21) and St. Louis (2022) has recorded a 1.25 ERA (3 ER in 21.2 IP) with 5 saves in 17 appearances with the Storm Chasers.

In a corresponding move, right-handed pitcher Max Castillo was optioned to Triple-A Omaha.

ROYALS ON THE MEND: Left-handed pitcher Daniel Lynch made his 5th rehab start and 4th with Triple-A Omaha today in the Storm Chasers 6-1 win at St. Paul…Lynch, who hasn’t pitched in the Majors this season after being placed on the 15-day Injured List on March 30 with a left rotator cuff strain, needed just 61 pitches (47 strikes) to record 6.0 scoreless innings, in which he allowed just 3 hits and no walks with 5 strikeouts.

Outfielder Drew Waters recorded his 2nd straight 4-hit effort and 3rd in his last 6 games, a stretch in which he’s batting .600 (15-for-27) with 11 runs, 10 extra-base hits and 6 RBI for a 1.711 OPS…Waters is working his way back from a strained left oblique he suffered during the first week of Spring Training.

SALVY SPLASHES: Royals Captain Salvador Perez hit his team-leading 11th HR in the 1st inning last night, the 2nd of back-to-back HR with Vinnie Pasquantino…Salvy’s 11 HR are tied for 6th most in the American League, just 3 behind league leader Adolis García (14), and 6 of his 11 HR have tied the game or given the Royals a lead.

Salvy has hit 8 HR in 18 games this month, tied with Luis Robert Jr. and Christopher Morel for the Majors lead…his 8 HR are 1 shy of the single-season club record for the month of May, set by Gary Gaetti in 1995.

In his last 23 games since April 24, he leads the Majors with 9 HR, ranks 3rd with a .689 slugging percentage, 4th with a 1.063 OPS and is tied for 8th with Luis Arraez with a .333 batting average (30-for-99).

Royals catchers have hit 13 HR this season—including 9 by Perez—which are the most of any position on the team and the highest total at the catcher position in the Majors, 2 more than the Braves catchers (11).

JACK OF ALL TRADES: Jackie Bradley Jr. had a highlight-reel game last night on both offense and defense… he saved at least 3 runs with his glove, robbing Spencer Torkelson of a 2-run hit in the 2nd inning, sprinting across right-center field to cover 72 ft in 4.3 seconds…with a man on third and the game tied in the 7th, Bradley Jr. covered 90 ft. to make a leaping catch on a ball hit 406 ft. to the wall by Zack Short…he also provided 2 runs with his bat, snapping an 0-for-26 skid with a game-tying, 2-run home run to the opposite field in the 5th inning to mark his 1st HR since last Sept. 20 with Toronto, ending a 98-at-bat homerless drought.

Despite playing in just 36 of Kansas City’s 49 games (including 27 starts), Bradley Jr. ranks 5th among center fielders with 5 Defensive Runs Saved, trailing only Luis Robert Jr. (11), Kevin Kiermaier (10), Jake Meyers (6) and teammate Kyle Isbel (6), who’s currently on the Injured List…Bradley Jr.’s 4 Outs Above Average are tied for 3rd most among all outfielders, trailing only Robert Jr. (6) and Kiermaier (5).

LEADS LOST: The Royals have held a lead in 15 of their 20 games in the month of May, but they’re only 7-13 this month with 8 blown lead losses…the only games this month in which they haven’t held a lead were May 5 vs. Baltimore, when they trailed 9-2, cut the deficit to 9-8, but lost 12-8; May 12 at Milwaukee, a 5-1 loss; May 15 in San Diego, a 4-0 loss; last Friday night in Chicago, where they were blanked in a 2-0 loss and last night vs. Detroit, a game in which they forced extra innings but lost, 8-5…for the season, the Royals 16 blown lead losses are tied for the 2nd most among all 30 Major League teams, 1 shy of Oakland’s 17 blown lead losses.

HOME: The Royals continue a 6-game homestand tonight with the 2nd of 3 games vs. the Tigers, before hosting the Nationals for 3 games this weekend for the first time since 2016…last night began a stretch in which the Royals are playing 9 of 11 games at home, with the only exceptions being a 2-game set in St. Louis next week… that will continue a run of four consecutive series vs. National League opponents, including a 3-game stay vs. the Rockies next weekend and 3 games in Miami as part of a 6-game trip to begin the first week of June.

The Royals are 6-18 at Kauffman Stadium this season, but have won 4 of their last 6 after starting 2-16.

BULLPEN BITS: For the 2nd straight game last night, the Royals bullpen was called upon to cover at least 6.0 innings, thanks in part to a 3.2-inning start by Brady Singer…Royals relievers held the Tigers scoreless through 5.1 innings last night until the 10th, when 3 runs (2 ER) were charged to the line of Scott Barlow, who was working his 2nd inning…despite this, the Royals bullpen has been among the American League leaders over the last two-plus weeks, a 16-game stretch since May 6 in which they rank 2nd with a .219 opponents’ average (52-for-237), 3rd with 67.0 innings pitched (more than 4.0 IP/game) and 4th with a 2.96 ERA (22 ER in 67.0 IP).

For the season, Royals relievers lead MLB with 225 strikeouts and rank 2nd with 10.7 K/9, both of which mark big improvements over last year, when they ranked 25th with 552 strikeouts and 21st with an 8.5 K/9.

Taylor Clarke pitched a scoreless 7th inning last night, extending his scoreless streak to 8.2 innings over 8 appearances, during which he’s held opponents to a .200 average (6-for-30) with 11 strikeouts.

Carlos Hernández retired all six batters he faced while serving as the opener in Sunday’s 5-2 loss in Chicago…it was his 9th scoreless outing in his last 11, a stretch in which he owns a 1.15 ERA (2 ER in 15.2 IP) and has held opponents to a .148 average (8-for-54) with 23 strikeouts (13.2 K/9).

Josh Staumont recorded the final out of last night’s game to mark his 12th scoreless appearance in 15 outings since making his season debut on April 14…he’s held opponents to a .180 average (9-for-50) with just 1 extra-base hit and 19 strikeouts, for an 11.9 K/9 and 31.7 K%.

TONIGHT’S STARTERS: RHP MIKE MAYERS (0-0, 3.38)
MIKE MAYERS (like Myers) is expected to make his 2nd appearance of the year and the 200th of his career tonight vs. Detroit…it’ll be just his 7th career start and 1st since last Sept. 6 vs. these Tigers with the Angels…he allowed just 2 runs in 5.2 innings but did not figure into the decision of a 5-4 win to remain 0-3 in his 6 career starts.

From 2020-21, his 101 appearances ranked tied for 4th in the Majors and his 101.1 innings as a reliever ranked 6th in the Majors, 4th in the American League.

Mayers, 31, was selected by the Cardinals in the 3rd round of the 2013 Draft, and signed with Kansas City as a minor league free agent on Dec. 22, 2022, with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

GOLDMEMBER OF THE ROYALS: Mayers made his Royals debut last Wednesday in San Diego, pitching as the bulk reliever, and he gave the Royals 2.2 innings while allowing 1 run on 2 hits (1 home run) with a career-high 4 walks and 3 strikeouts in an eventual 4-3 Royals win…he relieved Carlos Hernández, who gave the Royals 2.0 scoreless frames to start, and after working a scoreless 3rd, Mayers pitched into a bases-loaded, 1-out jam courtesy of a single and 2 walks, but he struck out Trent Grisham and Austin Nola to escape the jam…the lone blemish of his outing game in the 5th inning as Jake Cronenworth cracked a 1-out home run, and Mayers exited after retiring Fernando Tatis Jr., in favor of Josh Taylor, who ended the inning.

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE MAN OF MYSTERY: Mike has been built up as a starting pitcher down in Omaha, despite pitching out of the bullpen in 192 of his 199 Major League outings…in 8 starts with the Storm Chasers, he went 2-1 with 29 strikeouts in 34.0 innings, but was tagged for a 6.88 ERA (26 ER in 34.0 IP) and a 1.68 WHIP. 2022,

FAR FAR AWAY: Mayers made 24 appearances (3 starts) with the Angels last season and went 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA (32 ER in 50.2 IP)…he pitched to a 3.28 ERA (9 ER in 24.2 IP) in 12 road appearances (1 start), but struggled mightily at Angel Stadium, where he pitched to a 7.96 ERA (23 ER in 26.0 IP) in 12 outings (2 starts).

In 3 starts last season, he went 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA (7 ER in 14.2 IP), including 5.0 scoreless innings with just 2 hits allowed on Aug. 24 at Tampa Bay, and 5.2 innings of 2-run ball last Sept. 6 vs. Detroit in his most recent big league start.

THERE’S JUST ME AND MY SWAMP: Mayers is making his 2023 Kauffman Stadium debut, calling it his home for the first time in his career…he has made 2 scoreless appearances here, once on April 12, 2021 with the Angels (1.1 IP) and Aug. 12, 2018 with St. Louis (1.0 IP)…when pitching in front of his home crowd in his career, he has gone 5-5 with 2 saves and a 6.35 ERA (87 ER in 123.1 IP) in 105 games (4 starts).

TIGHT LIKE A TIGER: Mike is 2-0 with a 4.22 ERA (5 ER in 10.2 IP) and 12 strikeouts in 6 games (1 start) vs. Detroit in his career…he last faced them on Sept. 6, 2022, when he did not factor into the decision despite allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits over 5.2 innings of work with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts in an eventual 5-4 win.

THAT’LL DO, DONKEY…THAT’LL DO: Despite pitching in the Royals organization this season, Mike still leads all Angels relief pitchers since the start of 2020 in innings (137.1), appearances (120), strikeouts (164), holds (23) and ranks 2nd in wins (8).

SO, I MARRIED A CUTTER THROWER: Last season while pitching for the Angels, Mayers featured a cut fastball 8.1% of the time and induced a 24.3% whiff rate on it…the grip he uses for his cutter is something he learned after seeing this video from the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, where Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera can be seen teaching his legendary cut fastball to the late Hall of Famer Roy Halladay and three-time All-Star, Scott Kazmir…since 2020, Mayers has recorded 36 strikeouts and a 26.5 whiff% with the cutter.

According to reporting by Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Rivera ended up tracing his grip position onto a baseball and giving the ball to Halladay after that All-Star Game, and in 3 games against the Yankees that year after the All-Star break, Halladay went 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA (7 ER in 23.0 IP)

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