Tigers 7, Rangers 3: Robbie Grossman’s big day sparks Detroit

Big games from Robbie Grossman, Spencer Torkelson, and Victor Reyes in particular powered the Tigers to a 7-3 victory to split the four-game set with the Texas Rangers.

This one started out a lot like Saturday’s contest with a power surge in the first inning from both clubs. Corey Seager, the Rangers’ leadoff hitter, homered the opposite way into the bullpens in the first inning. Drew Hutchison settled in from there and retired the next three in order, going on to another solid spot start for the Tigers.

Dane Dunning was greeted in the bottom of the first with a sharp Victor Reyes single, and then Dunning hit Harold Castro in an 0-2 count. That brought up Robbie Grossman, who once again crushed a first inning home run to erase a Rangers’ lead. The three-run blast went way out to right field, and the Tigers led 3-1.

Both teams went quickly in the second inning and in the third Hutchison allowed a Leody Taveras single, but picked him off with a sharp throw over and a nice quick tag from Torkelson.

The bottom of the third inning had some drama to it, but you’d never know it from the Bally Sports broadcast booth, as Jack Morris and Cecil Fielder were busy in glory days mode throughout the inning, causing them to completely lose the plot of the game.

Things started with a Harold Castro fly out. Robbie Grossman worked into a 2-1 count when Dane Dunning dropped a curveball a couple inches low. Home plate umpire Jansen Visconti called it a strike and Mr. Grossman didn’t agree. The next pitch was in the dirt and Grossman appeared to check his swing. Visconti appealed to third and they rank him up. Grossman was red hot at this point and jawed at Visconti the whole way back to the dugout. Visconti returned fire, and AJ Hinch, as hot as we’ve seen him all year stormed onto the field and into Visconti’s face. Hinch lectured him furiously from about two inches away from Visconti’s face until he was finally ejected from the game.

Bench coach George Lombard took over, and while Javier Báez beat next, Miguel Cabrera, getting the day off while Haase DH’d, was mock cheering correct calls from Visconti by the sound of it. Visconti turned to yell at Cabrera to watch it, and there was another momentary stand off until the game resumed.

We like calm AJ most of the time, but spicy Hinch making an appearance was overdue.

We never got to see the checked swing call, as the booth was lost telling stories and had no idea what was going on throughout the entire five minute long episode. Stellar works as usual. We had fun with Cecil too, but they just gave up on the game during a crucial moment, and it was like a microcosm of the whole product the Shepherd/Morris booth provides on a nightly basis. Eventually an inning later they did show the checked swing, and it was a reasonable, if borderline, call.

Hutchison got into a little trouble in the fourth courtesy of a pair of walks. A Nathaniel Lowe single scored Adolis Garcia to trim the lead to one. The Tigers went 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Hutchison got the first two outs in the fifth pretty easily, but Marcus Semien singled through the right side, and Lombard came out to get Hutchison to avoid him seeing Corey Seager a third time. This seemed a bit of over managing considering Hutchison was still under 60 pitches, but the third time through the order penalty is a thing, and so Lombard turned to Alex Lange instead.

It didn’t work out. Lange has struggled to spot his curveball the last couple times out and it was no different here. Semien took second on one breaker in the dirt, and then Lange walked Seager on another one that got away from Tucker Barnhart and moved Semien to third base. That brought up Adolis Garcia, and because of Lange’s struggles, Barnhart had to call for the fastball and Garcia whistled a 1-1 heater at the bottom of the zone into left to score Semien and tie the game.

The Tigers showed a little moxie though, by coming right back in the bottom of the fifth.

Victor Reyes got them started again with a leadoff single, driving in the leadoff spot. Harold Castro grounded into a force, replacing Reyes at first, and then Robbie Grossman drew a four pitch walk. Javier Baez bounced into a force as well, moving Castro to third, while Grossman was out at second base. Báez stole second, but it didn’t matter much as Riley Greene also drew a walk from Dunning to load the bases, and the Rangers went to their bullpen as well.

Dennis Santana came in to face Spencer Torkelson, who continues to display a disturbing tendency to whiff on fastballs down the middle. Tork worked into a 2-2 count, and then flicked a slider down and away into right center field for a two-run single. Harold Castro scored easily from third, while Báez slid well behind the catcher and stuck his hand on the plate inches before the tag was applied. 5-3 Tigers.

Jonathan Schoop was easily carved up by Santana, striking out on a nice swing back sinker that caught the outer edge to end the inning.

Wily Peralta took the sixth for the Tigers and pitched around a two-out walk. In the bottom half, Tucker Barnhart worked a walk to lead off, but Victor Reyes struck out. Harold Castro came out of the game dealing with some soreness from the hit by pitch in the first inning, and was replaced by Kody Clemens, facing the veteran lefty, and briefly a Tiger, Matt Moore. Clemens grounded one up the middle, but Texas had it covered and turned the inning ending double play with no issues.

This brought us to the late innings, where the Tigers bullpen has faltered recently after doing great work in April and May. Holding a two-run lead, Michael Fulmer took over in the eighth, and one had to assume Lombard would try to get him into the eighth and then turn things over to Gregory Soto, the latter of whom really needed a good outing.

Fulmer got Taveras to pop out, and then Semien lined one to Riley Greene in center for the second out of the inning. Big Mike then carved up Corey Seager swinging at a nasty slider to complete a snappy 12 pitch inning that kept him in line to pitch into the eighth.

The bottom of the seventh didn’t go much better for the Tigers’ offense. Grossman walked to start things off well, but he was thrown out trying to steal second by a hair. Javier Báez was frozen by a knuckle curve right down the middle for strike three, while Riley Greene also was rung up on a knuckle curve, this one perfectly spotted on the bottom edge of the zone.

As it turned out, Lombard turned to Andrew Chafin to handle the 3-4-5 hitters in the top of the eighth, and he had no issues at all, striking out the side with authority.

Matt Bush, you remember the guy picked first overall in 2004? One before JV? Yeah that guy. Anyway, he took the mound in the bottom of the eighth, and Torkelson led off with a single back through the box for his second hit on the day. Good to see. Haase struck out, but Schoop singled to right to put men on first and second for Barnhart. Frankly we were just rooting against a double play ball here.

They almost got it, but in the meantime, a wild pitch from Bush moved both runners up 90 feet. So when Barnhart grounded to Corey Seager on the first base side of second base in the shift, instead of a double play ball they came home with it instead. Torkelson evaded the tag just long enough to score, though it was rather dubious despite being under a lengthy review. Ultimately they couldn’t find enough evidence to overturn it, which was surprising, but welcome. 6-3 Tigers.

Victor Reyes popped out, but Kody Clemens walked to load the bases for Robbie Grossman with two outs. Grossman singled to second and Schoop scored to make it 7-3, but Barnhart was cut down trying to follow him home, ending a two-run inning for the Tigers and providing some breathing room for the Gregory Soto experience.

The big lefty needed a bounceback and he got it. Lowe and Ezequiel Duran grounded out quickly. The Rangers subbed in Charlie Culberson to hit for Brad Miller, and Soto punched him out swinging over a 93 mph changeup to wrap this one up.

The Tigers now head out on the road to Boston, with Alex Faedo getting the start on Monday night. Detroit will face Boston for three, have a day off, travel to Arizona for three with the Diamondbacks, have another day off, and then play two against the San Francisco Giants on June 28-29 before returning to Detroit to start the next homestand on July 1, welcoming in the Royals and the Guardians back-to-back.

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