For the first time in his MLB career, Detroit Tigers right-hander Beau Brieske walked off the mound with a zero on the scoreboard.
The 24-year-old completed 5⅔ scoreless innings, allowing seven hits without a walk, to guide the Tigers to a 3-1 win in the second of three games against the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 30,738 fans at Comerica Park.
“It feels like it’s been a long time coming,” said Brieske, who earned his first MLB win. “I feel like I continue to keep working and trusting my plan. I finally ended up on the right side of the win column. … It feels good.”
Brieske worked around two singles in the second inning, two singles in the third, one single in the fourth, one single in the fifth and one single in the sixth. He only had two strikeouts but limited hard contact.
“He spun the ball just well enough today,” manager A.J. Hinch. “I thought he saved his changeup a little bit until later in his outing, and he was effective with all his pitches. To get into the sixth with no runs against that lineup, credit to him.”
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The Tigers (24-34) scored in the first, fourth and seventh innings, with Javier Báez — who signed a six-year, $140 million contract in December — guiding the offense with a single and three walks.
Báez is hitting .200 in 47 games this season.
He has nine walks in 191 plate appearances.
“I was a little bit more focused, just seeing the ball more deep into the (strike) zone,” Báez said. “I know I can get to any fastball. I was on the fastball today. I think I got it closer to me. I just got to make them throw strikes.”
Victor Reyes, in his first game back from the injured list, finished 3-for-4 (three singles) with one strikeout. Eric Haase picked up a pair of extra-base hits, while Báez, Harold Castro and Willi Castro chipped in one hit apiece.
The Tigers’ offense posted eight hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
The second extra-base hit from Haase — batting out of the nine-hole — extended the Tigers’ lead to 3-0 in the seventh inning off righty reliever David Phelps, as Reyes followed Haase’s double with a single into right field to score him.
“We were looking for a spark at the top, and he hit his way on,” Hinch said. “Really big hit at the end, especially when you know their offense is lurking. The extra tack-on run is really important. … It’s big when you can come right off the IL and contribute. That’ll get you in the lineup the next day.”
Brieske and the bullpen
To secure the victory, the Tigers’ bullpen backed Brieske and the offense with 3⅓ innings, allowing only a run in the ninth inning.
For Brieske’s final out, left fielder Willi Castro — a former infielder — completed his fourth outfield assist in 2022. Teoscar Hernandez reached safely to open the sixth inning on Báez’s throwing error, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled to left with one out.
As Hernandez attempted to reach third base, Castro fired a strike to third baseman Harold Castro, who made a clean tag for the second out. That’s when Hinch called on left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin to face pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk.
Kirk flied out to right field.
“Willi’s outfield defense, we can talk until you guys are done asking about it,” Hinch said. “He’s pretty good. There’s a lot of learning that still has to be done. He’s fearless when it comes to throwing. … He’s learning. He’s growing. He’s fearless. You start piling up these assists, I think the advanced scouting is going to take notice.”
The rest of the relievers rolled past the Blue Jays. Righties Jason Foley and Michael Fulmer tossed scoreless seventh and eighth innings, with Fulmer sending down the heart of Toronto’s lineup: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (strikeout, slider), Hernandez (strikeout, slider) and Santiago Espinal (groundout).
Left-handed closer Gregory Soto notched his 13th save, though he gave up a run on two hits and a walk, all with two outs.
For his 86 pitches (59 strikes), Brieske threw 47 four-seam fastballs (55%), 22 sliders (26%), 11 changeups (13%), two four-seam fastballs (5%) and two curveballs (2%).
He generated eight swings and misses: three four-seamers, four sliders and one changeup.
Brieske has a 4.34 ERA in nine starts.
“Really just to match the aggressiveness,” Brieske said. “My plan was going in there and being on the attack, putting the pressure on them. You can’t really be hesitant against a lineup that is that good. We wanted to come out, attack, mix pitches, change speeds, get them off balance and try to get weak contact and try to make as many quality pitches as you can.”
The Tigers’ first-inning run and subsequent victory improved their record to 17-6 when scoring before their opponent.
Reyes opened with a two-strike leadoff single. He advanced to second base on an error by shortstop Bo Bichette, who dropped the ball on a perfect throw from catcher Gabriel Moreno trying to get Reyes stealing.
The base-running from Reyes was followed by Austin Meadows’ one-out walk, putting two runners on base with for Miguel Cabrera. Although Cabrera struck out looking, fellow Venezuelan Harold Castro drilled a first-pitch fastball into center field.
Reyes, also Venezuelan, scored from second base, giving the Tigers a 1-0 advantage.
The Tigers had a chance to score more runs in the first, as Báez drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases. But Willi Castro stranded his teammates when he lined out to right field.
Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman allowed two runs on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts across six innings.
He now has a 2.80 ERA in 12 starts.
Gausman avoided trouble for the most part, but when the Tigers had scoring opportunities, they capitalized with timely hits. Harold Castro’s first-inning single was one example.
Another was Haase’s two-out triple in the fourth inning, set up by a leadoff six-pitch walk to Báez. It marked Báez’s 11th multi-walk game of his career. With his eighth-inning walk, he notched three unintentional walks for the first time in his career.
“I’m proud of Javy for staying with it, including the last at-bat,” Hinch said. “Once he had the two walks and the hit, it’s very easy for a player to go back to old ways and try to get a little greedy and pull the ball for a homer. He got that third walk, and he should be happy today.”
The next two batters were retired in the fourth, so Haase had the task of rewarding the Tigers after such a rare feat from Báez. He did just that, smacking a two-strike fastball into the right-field corner for a triple.
It marked Haase’s first extra-base hit since May 14. He has five of them in 32 games this season.
More importantly, it put the Tigers ahead 2-0.
The Tigers, despite putting two runners in scoring position, failed to score off Gausman in his final inning of work. In the sixth, Báez and Willi Castro produced back-to-back one-out hits.
Báez singled; Castro doubled.
Then, Spencer Torkelson lined into a double play. Second baseman Cavan Biggio caught the ball and immediately fired to Espinal, the third baseman. When Biggio caught the bullet, Báez was already headed toward home plate and couldn’t get back in time.
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