Jack Flaherty deserved better after incredible start for Tigers on Friday

This is a case of the box score lying to you. Jack Flaherty pitched great for the Tigers on Friday.
Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Detroit beat the Twins 5-4, but Tigers starting pitcherJack Flaherty deserved so much more on Friday night. Making his fourth start as a Detroit Tiger, he threw his best game yet.

A quick look at the score might convince you otherwise. Flaherty earned no decision after leaving the game with a 4-4 tie after six innings. He wasn't perfect, to be sure. He gave up a home run he probably shouldn't have in the first inning. But after that moment, it was chef's kiss until his defense abandoned him.

Flaherty threw 97 pitches. He got 19 swings and misses on 44 offers (43%). He got an additional 19 called strikes for a combined 39% of pitches resulting in called strikes or whiffs. An amazing nine out of 14 swings at his knucke curve resulted in whiffs.

Jack Flaherty struck out 10 for the Tigers

After the home run, Flaherty got the next eight Twins he faced out. Five of those in a row stretching from the first to fourth innings were strikeouts. In total, Flaherty struck out 10 Twins out of 24 faced (42%).

That was the first double-digit strikeout total by a Tigers pitcher this season, surpassing Tarik Skubal's nine (April 5 vs. Oakland) and Reese Olson's eight (April 15 vs. Texas)

So if he was that hard to hit, how exactly did Flaherty give up four runs? Some ugly defense that has struggled dating back to Wednesday and has seven total errors.

Fielding mistakes continue to haunt Detroit and cost Flaherty a great start

Flaherty didn't help his own cause by starting the inning off by allowing a walk, his only of the game. Then a fly ball to right-center field off the bat of Ryan Jefferes that should have been caught turned into an adventure when rookie Wenceel Pérez and center fielder Parker Meadows nearly collided as Pérez whiffed on the catch.

Pérez has spent most of his professional career at shortstop but made 43 starts in the outfield in the minors. It was probably a combination of inexperience and a lack of chemistry in the outfield, though MCB's Rogelio Castillo noted the two played in the outfield together for Double-A Erie. In any case, it left runners on second and third.

Flaherty again tried to get out of it and got the next two batters out swinging. A hard hit off the bat of Byron Buxton to left field should probably have been caught by Kerry Carpenter. But the outfielder leaped at the wall and the ball went right by his glove and bounced off the wall, allowing both baserunners to score, unearned.

Pérez ultimately made up for his mistake when he drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, but it's hard not to feel for Flaherty here.

Flaherty reacted with visible disappointment, though Tigers fans probably had much the same look as the inning unfolded.

"You're going to have some ups and downs like that but at the end of the day the guys pulled it out," Flaherty said in the postgame. "Props to him for staying in it and staying in the game, for a young guy to come up and help us win the game and that's what matters. You have to continue to make pitches no matter what the situation calls for, that's all I try to do. I was really one pitch away there from really getting out of it. But the guys continue to battle and fight."

In the end, Flaherty should have gotten out of the sixth inning with no runs allowed and no stress, but alas it didn't go that way. Flaherty should have been in line to get his first win for the Tigers, but he wasn't.

Flaherty deserved much better than the results he got and everyone who watched the game knew it.

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