Seattle is a city known best for big corporate coffee and a famous fish market. But on Monday night it was Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize who turned the Mariners lineup into a pile of minced meat with a thoroughly impressive performance to guide the Tigers to a 4-1 victory.
Mize was coming off two consecutive quality starts prior to facing the M’s but he took his efforts to a new level with a boffo (yes…boffo) outing at T-Mobile Stadium. Mize pitched into the 8th inning for the first time as a major leaguer and showed throughout confidence in his fastball that hadn’t always been evident as he’s learning the ropes in MLB.
Although Mize allowed a lead-off homer in the 8th after falling behind Tom Murphy, he finished with panache by striking out the final two batters he faced. He yielded to Gregory Soto and Michael Fulmer to get the final four outs and Detroit’s relievers were up to the task.
The Mariners never sent more than four batters to the plate in any one inning throughout the game as Mize was miserly in giving the M’s opportunities.
Mize looked to have solid command working in concert with catcher Jake Rogers and stuck to his fastball at several key moments. Mize used his heater to back hitters off the plate a few times and continued his dominance of the inside half of the plate with his heater.
The Detroit Tigers defense steps up
The pitcher’s best friend was on hand to get Mize out of the first two innings with double plays. Indeed, the M’s best chance to get Mize on the night was in the first frame when phenom Jerred Kelenic led off the game with a soft humpback liner for a single, and Mitch Haniger walked. But Mize counterpunched quickly by fanning Kyle Seager and getting Kyle Lewis to semi-sharply bounce into a routine 5-4-3 twin killing. Mize never looked threatened again through the rest of the night.
Mize had 11 swinging strikes on the night to help with his 7 strikeouts against three walks. The double plays were indicative of some of the soft to medium contact he was giving up. Jonathan Schoop did add one tremendous diving play to his left to help Mize end the third inning.
There was a nagging feeling in 2020 that Mize looked to be throwing a comfortable to hit against arsenal with some pitches that seemed to float into hit-able spaces over the plate and usually challenging no one with inside gas. That feeling is starting to disappear. Mize’s stuff now looks sharp and most pitches look to have some wiggle to them for missing barrels. Most importantly Mize is chucking his heater inside at various points to discourage plate diving by his opponents. He’s starting to own the inner half.
It can be argued that Mize’s performance in Houston was his best MLB start prior to Monday. That’s no longer true after this showstopper performance although it’s close via Bill James’ “game score” with a 73 in Seattle versus Mize’s 72 in Houston. Nevertheless, Mize showcased the skill and talent in the Land of Big Caffeine the Tigers have been waiting to see and no doubt pine to see more and more.
Eric Haase goes Hoss!
Tigers catcher…err…left-fielder Eric Haase added to the fun in Seattle by clobbering two solo shots both traveling 429’ respectively. Haase added some punch to a lineup in sore need of some long ball thrills against a stubborn foe in Yusei Kikuchi.
Kikuchi had 17 swinging strikes in only six innings and only allowed 3 hits on the night. But Haase and Schoop put two of those hits in the cheap seats to provide Mize with an early cushion.
Haase gave Fulmer an extra run to work with by tacking on a homer versus M’s reliever Brady Lail.
Detroit will try to take another one on Tuesday night behind Spencer Turnbull.