The Detroit Tigers gave away the game on Tuesday night.
The baseball season is long, and it’s never a great idea to put too much stock in any one game, but boy did the Detroit Tigers blow it on Tuesday.
It’s one thing to get blown out, or have the offense struggle and lose a tight game. Those are normal baseball losses.
What the Detroit Tigers did on Tuesday night in Minnesota was not normal. The loss was so abnormal, in fact, that we’re doing an incredibly rare game recap here at Motor City Bengals.
Tuesday’s game played out in an annoyingly familiar way for Detroit Tigers fans, at least for the first seven innings. Eduardo Rodriguez (6IP, 4H, 3ER, 2BB, 6K) was far from dominant, but he was really only hurt by a pair of extra-base hits from Max Kepler, and he gave the Tigers a quality start.
Twins starter Chris Paddack (5.2 IP, 5H, ER, BB, 6K) wasn’t particularly dominant either, but he had Tigers hitters crossed up for most of the night, inducing 12 swings and misses and getting another 17 called strikes.
Javier Báez finally got the Tigers on the board with a two-out RBI double to the wall in right center in the 6th. And then in the 8th he took a 1-0 cutter from Emilio Pagán and demolished it 415 feet for a three-run, go-ahead home run.
It was yet another signature moment in the early Detroit Tigers career for Báez, joining his
, and his
against the Red Sox a few days later. And it was all the more sweet that this go-ahead bomb came against the division rival Twins, and their shortstop Carlos Correa, whom so many Tigers fans seemed to prefer to Báez.
It was going to be a sweet, sweet victory. Then the 9th inning happened.
Perhaps the first pitch of the inning should have warned us how this would end. Home plate umpire John Tumpane, who had largely called a good game, watched a 98-mph fastball from Gregory Soto cross the middle of the plate, and he called it a ball.
Soto then proceeded to walk the first two batters of the inning, but came back to strike out Max Kepler on three pitches. He was a double play away from a Save, but then this happened on his 2-2 offering to Miguel Sano:
Robbie Grossman misplayed that ball, but it was a 108-MPH rocket that the official scorer ruled a single. The Tigers briefly lucked out when the Twins managed to run themselves into an out, only for catcher Eric Haase to lollipop a throw into short left field. Fittingly, it was would-be hero Javier Báez scrambling fruitlessly to grab the ball while the game-tying and game-winning runs scored.
Fans expect excellence from professional athletes, and they get it so often that when little league mistakes like this happen it can almost feel like a personal affront. Fans are angry, and embarrassed, and sad, but you can count on the players feeling even worse about it.
That doesn’t make Tuesday night’s loss any less pathetic, though, and in an AL Central division that feels a lot more winnable now than it did three weeks ago, dropping a game to the Twins like this sure does hurt.