Detroit — After two tough losses to the team with the third lowest winning percentage in baseball, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs on the bases in the last two innings of both games, a win wasn’t mandatory for the Tigers, but it was — let’s call it soothing.
With the bullpen putting up five straight zeros, the Tigers earned a split of the four-game series with the Orioles Sunday with a workmanlike 6-2 win before a sun-splashed crowd of 17,134 at Comerica Park.
Erasmo Ramirez, Jose Cisnero, Michael Fulmer and Gregory Soto allowed just one base runner from the fifth through the ninth. Ramirez, who set down six straight, has pitched 7.1 straight scoreless innings over four outings, allowing just two hits.
After posting their third straight winning month (14-12) — first time they’ve had three straight winning months since 2016 — the Tigers started the new month on the right foot.
The pitching match-up Sunday might’ve been nostalgic for Erie SeaWolves fans. Tigers starter Tyler Alexander and Orioles starter Spenser Watkins were teammates at Double-A Erie in 2019, and three other rungs in the Tigers system before that.
But it looked early like neither would be around long on this day.
The first four hitters hit balls off Alexander with exit velocities of over 100-mph and three of them were doubles to the wall in center field. Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander were in ambush mode. Hays hit a first-pitch two-seamer, Mountcastle a second-pitch two-seamer and Santander a second-pitch change-up.
Alexander, though, per manager AJ Hinch’s script, got through the Orioles order twice. It took him four innings and 67 pitches, but he allowed only a single and a walk after the first.
But the Tigers were in a 2-0 hole before most fans got settled into their seats. Once they were situated, though, they were treated to a three-run response.
With two outs, Watkins walked Robbie Grossman and Miguel Cabrera. Jeimer Candelario followed with a hard-hit ground ball to first that caromed off Trey Mancini’s glove. It was scored a base hit and Grossman scored.
Eric Haase followed with a two-run double to the wall in left.
Watkins, whom the Tigers released during the shutdown in 2020 after six years in the system, had a response of his own — 14 straight outs.
Grossman ended that streak with a one-out triple to the gap in right-center in the sixth. Cabrera plated him with a sacrifice fly, career RBI number 1,777, and Watkins’ day was over.
The Tigers kept pecking away at the Orioles’ bullpen, though, scoring twice in the seventh.
After Harold Castro doubled and Grayson Greiner singled, former Western Michigan lefty Keegan Akin was summoned to face left-handed hitting Akil Baddoo.
Baddoo poked a two-strike single to left field to score Castro. Grossman brought Greiner home with a sacrifice fly to right. Baddoo had been 1 for 13 in the series before that knock.
Our special thanks to:detroitnews.com