Red Sox 5, Tigers 4: A late comeback wasn’t quite enough

Despite the temperatures around the Great Lakes being pretty hot these days, the Tigers continued their series in Boston on a relatively cool Atlantic coast evening. Pleasant temperatures were not enough to propel the Detroiters to victory, though, as they dropped the second game of the three-game series 5-4.

I still can’t get over the fact that the Tigers drafted Beau Brieske in the 27th round. Who was behind him in that draft — me, my uncle Garry, and the ghost of Eddie Gaedel?! Anyway, Brieske’s 1-5 record coming into tonight belied his 3.79 ERA. If you had to have causes for concern with his stat line, they’d be with his home runs allowed (2.0/9 IP). The strikeouts aren’t quite there yet either (6.1/9 IP), but plenty of young pitchers take a while to develop that particular skill and the right-hander has been developing a little better slider along the way. His previous outing was his best yet, a sensational seven shutout innings against the Rangers which was, alas, in vain as the Tigers lost the game 3-1 (but at least he got the no-decision).

Rich Hill’s debut in the Major Leagues was on June 15, 2005; he was no youngster even then, being 25. In comparison, Brieske on that date was… hmm… carry the 2… take the cosine… seven years old. (Miguel Cabrera hit a double off Hill that day.) This is Hill’s third go-round with the Red Stockings, and he’d pitched into the seventh inning a couple of times this year but was definitely more likely to be done after five innings or so. Hill’s stock-in-trade these days is an assortment of curveballs from a variety of arm angles, touching 90 mph on his fastball; a “crafty left-hander” if there ever was one.

The Red Sox were wearing their ridiculous “City Connect” uniforms, which appear to be roughly the colors of the UCLA Bruins sporting teams. Wrong coast, boys!

Javier Báez crushed a triple to the triangle in deep center field in the first, and he was promptly cashed-in by Miguel Cabrera who dug out a low curveball and served it into center for the 1-0 early lead.

Brieske got into a bit of trouble with a pair of seeing-eye ground balls in the first putting runners on the corners with none out. JD Martinez hits a sacrifice fly to center to score Jarren Duran and even it up at ones. Brieske then brutally battled Bogaerts by busting him below the belt and I am now out of b-words everyone, he just struck out after a long at-bat. A grounder to Jeimer Candelario at the shortstop position got him out of trouble, but he’d thrown 27 pitches in the opening inning. Fortunately he had a shorter second inning and got through it with a mere dozen pitches.

Báez hit another ball juuuust to the right of where he hit his triple earlier, and it went over the fence for a 2-1 Tiger lead in the third.

At the bottom of the inning, Riley Greene showed us why we’ve all been pretty jazzed to see him amongst the taller buildings.

Trevor Story then ran into a slider in the fourth that didn’t slide enough, parking a three-run home run over the Green Monster for a 4-2 Boston lead. Earlier in the inning, Báez couldn’t quite handle a tricky popup (which I feel Robbie Grossman should’ve charged in on, rather than having Báez go back on); if he’d made that catch it was likely a different inning. Ah well.

Grossman and Cabrera singled to put runners on first and second, as Hill was making his way through the Detroit lineup for the third time. Eric Haase punched a single to left field, scoring Grossman and narrowing the gap to 4-3. Meanwhile Brieske had himself a tight 1-2-3 fifth; with 93 pitches at that point assumed I the youngster would be finished.

Hill was done after five, though, as Ryan Brasier took over. Similarly, Jason Foley replaced Brieske after five innings; Brieske’s line was 5 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (all earned), no walks, four whiffs, one home run.

Báez continued hitting the ball hard in the seventh inning, but like his third at-bat he had nothing to show for it; Story made a leaping catch to snag a hard-hit line drive up the middle.

Christian Vázquez greeted Andrew Chafin at the bottom of the seventh inning with a first-pitch home run to left field, pushing the Boston lead back to a pair of runs. That would prove to be a gigantic insurance run in the end. It was the first home run allowed by Chafin this season.

The Tigers had runners at first and second with one out in the bottom of the eighth against Tyler Danish on a Cabrera hit-by-pitch and a Greene single, putting the tying run on first. But then, on the first pitch, Spencer Torkelson fouled-out to first and Candelario flew out to center on the second pitch he saw, and that was that.

Matt Strahm came on for the save against the 8-9-1 hitters, and Jonathan Schoop said hello with a drive deep to left-center over the Monster to make it a 5-4 game. With one out, Grossman got totally hosed on a called strike three, pitch #4 as shown below.

Grossman let home plate umpire Dan Bellino, who’d had a pretty large strike zone all night but not THAT large, know he disagreed with him.

That was the last pitch Strahm would throw, as old sidewinding friend (and new Boston relief ace) John Schreiber would come on to try and retire Báez. He squeezed a ground ball between the first baseman and the line for a single, putting the tying run on first base with two outs and Cabrera, who’d had three hits so far on the night, coming to the plate. Alas, a ground ball to shortstop ended the affair and the Tigers’ night.

I can’t help but wonder how it would’ve turned out if Grossman’s third so-called strike had been properly called. As John Greenleaf Whitter mused, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.'”

Injury Rehab Update

Stats and Observations

  • Also hitting doubles in the inning Rich Hill worked in his debut: Mike Lowell and Paul Lo Duca. Greg Maddux started that game for the Cubs, too. Neat.
  • Spencer Torkelson, from June 16 through 20, was 7-for-18 with a walk and a sacrifice fly, and had consecutive two-hit games on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I know it’s a small-ish sample size, but a fella can dream, and dreams are free.
  • Dan Dickerson brought up the fact that Beau Brieske, so far in his young career, has now pitched at Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park.
  • Have you seen this Oneil Cruz kid for Pittsburgh? Holy mackerel. Take a look at this.
  • BYB’s own Peter Kwasniak had a Kyle Funkhouser-like run-in with the sidewalks of Toledo today. Mr. Kwasniak now apologizes formally for all the jokes he made at Funkhouser’s expense, all those years ago. Get well soon, Peter!
  • Happy summer solstice, everyone! Today is the day in the northern hemisphere on which we get the most hours of sunlight. At the Arctic Circle the Sun won’t appear to dip below the horizon, and as you go further north you’ll get more 24-hour-daylight days until you hit the North Pole. (We are not, repeat, not Closer to the Sun during the summer. This year, our closest approach to the Sun was on January 4, a point in the orbit called perihelion.) This has been your nerdy astronomy moment of the day.