CINCINNATI (AP) — The Tigers knew exactly what hit them – the daunting combination of a homer-friendly park and a free-swinging Reds offense starting to come around.
Scooter Gennett hit a tying two-run homer , and Eugenio Suarez also connected on the next pitch – a hit originally ruled a double but changed to a homer on review – for a 5-3 victory and a two-game sweep on Wednesday.
The Reds moved ahead in the all-time series 13-11, with two games left at Comerica Park starting July 31.
After managing only a pair of singles through the first five innings, the Reds finally got to Michael Fulmer (3-6). Gennett connected with two outs for his 13th homer, tying it 2-2.
”The way we’re playing right now is how we expected to play all year,” Gennett said. ”It’s a lot of fun.”
Fulmer threw Gennett a slider that was headed for the dirt on a 1-2 count, only to see it sail out to right field aided by the wind.
”I thought it was a great pitch,” Fulmer said. ”I’m mad at the results, but I’m not mad at the way I pitched.”
Suarez hit Fulmer’s next pitch to left field, with the ball landing on the top of the wall and bouncing back into play. The Reds sounded their home run siren and shot off fireworks, but the umpires ruled the ball was in play and stopped Suarez at second base.
After a review of 1 minute, 12 seconds, the hit was ruled a homer – replays indicated the ball skipped off the top of the wall and deflected off a railing behind it.
Adam Duvall added a solo shot in the eighth as the Reds out-homered the Tigers 3-2.
”That’s the way it is here,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Tyler Mahle (6-6) overcame a pair of solo homers to remain unbeaten in four June starts. The rookie has allowed a total of four earned runs while going 3-0 in the month. He struck out eight in six innings of his team-high sixth quality start.
”I was more lucky than good today,” Mahle said . ”If I had to give myself a grade today, it would be a ‘D.”’
Raisel Iglesias gave up a hit in the ninth while earning his 11th save in 13 chances.
The Reds improved to 6-1 in interleague games. They’ve won five straight against the AL, tying their best all-time mark. The Tigers fell to 1-7.
SWING AND A MISS
Fulmer has little hitting experience in the majors, and it hurt the Tigers in the sixth. With runners on second and third and two outs, the Reds intentionally walked Dixon Machado to bring up Fulmer. He struck out on three pitches, the last one a high 94 mph fastball. Fulmer is 0 for 9 with six strikeouts for his career.
Gardenhire said that’s the big advantage for the NL, where pitchers take batting practice regularly.
”There’s your unfair advantage,” he said.
Left-hander Blaine Hardy relieved in the seventh and gave up a pair of hits and a walk. Hardy has been a fill-in starter for the Tigers’ depleted rotation and pitched into the sixth inning Sunday for a 3-1 win over the White Sox.
Joey Votto received his 2017 Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s Athlete of the Year, the second time he’s won it. Ferguson Jenkins and Larry Walker are the other baseball players to win it.
Tigers: Right-handed reliever Drew VerHagen was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a broken nose suffered Tuesday night when he was hit by a thrown ball while covering first base. Right-handed reliever Johnny Barbato was called up from Triple-A Toledo. He gave up Duvall’s homer in the eighth.
Reds: Manager Jim Riggleman and the training staff are developing a rehab plan for starter Homer Bailey, who has been sidelined since June 2 with a sore right knee. He’s 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA.
Tigers: After a day off, the Tigers start a weekend series in Cleveland, where they’ve lost 20 of their past 26 games, including their past seven. Mike Fiers (5-3) is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts at Progressive Field.
Reds: Matt Harvey (1-5) makes his eighth start for the Reds, who open a four-game series against the Cubs at Great American Ball Park. Harvey has lost his past three decisions for the Reds, who got him from the Mets in a trade for catcher Devin Mesoraco on May 8.
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Gennett’s two-run shot was his 13th this season, while Suarez has 15 homers. Adam Duvall added a solo blast — his 12th — and Scott Schebler contributed two hits and a run scored. Tucker Barnhart had two hits and an RBI as Cincinnati took both games of the series.
Tyler Mahle (6-6) limited the Tigers to two runs on five hits while striking out eight in six innings. Raisel Iglesias got the last three outs for his 11th save.
Mahle struck out leadoff hitter Leonys Martin on three pitches in the first. Candelario then drove his next pitch to the opposite field and the ball barely cleared the left-field wall for his 11th homer this season.
Goodrum, batting cleanup, made it 2-0 in the second when he drilled a 2-2 changeup over the centerfield wall.
Detroit loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth but Fulmer was due up. The result was predictable as Fulmer, who is still seeking for first career hit, struck out on three pitches.
Cincinnati took a 3-2 lead in the sixth with a power display. Schebler led off the inning with a double but Fulmer set down the next two batters. Gennett then pulled a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall.
Suarez then hit the next pitch over the left-field wall. It was originally ruled a double but the call was overturned upon review.
The Reds tacked on a run against Detroit’s bullpen on consecutive singles by Billy Hamilton, Schebler and Barnhart.
Detroit used its speed to close the gap in the eighth. JaCoby Jones reached on an infield single, stole second and scored on Iglesias’ infield hit.
The closer carousel is a-turnin’. The Kelvin Herrera trade ranks as the biggest news of a very busy week. While I’ve been warning owners to prepare, I thought we had at least a month to finalize our plans. Instead, he was swapped to a setup role in the Nationals bullpen. It rates as the biggest mid-June trade in recent history.
Washington is currently 3.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East. Most baseball pundits expect to see them atop the division when the dust clears – with or without Herrera. The ability to further shorten games will only speed up the timetable. If Sean Doolittle were to suffer an injury – he has recurring shoulder issues – it would open the door for Herrera. On the KC side of the equation, GM Dayton Moore was lambasted for accepting a seemingly light return. Personally, I don’t see any issue with the swap – low end closers on expiring contracts simply aren’t worth very much these days. Better relievers with more club control will be on the trade block too.
Elsewhere, Hunter Strickland blew a save. He proceeded to throw a fit during which he punched a door and broke his hand. We’ll see him again in six to eight weeks. In the meantime, he’ll definitely lose his tenuous grasp upon the closer role. Mark Melancon is still being eased into regular duty. Since his outings are carefully managed, he’s not yet ready to resume closing games. Notably, his velocity remains two mph below his norm. Sam Dyson is on a hot streak. He’s been anointed the ninth inning guy. Stop reading and go pick him up. Then come back. Tony Watson has pitched just as well if not better than Dyson. He’s a solid temporary handcuff.
Here’s a third chunk of interesting news. The Phillies have demoted Hector Neris. He’ll work on regaining command of his splitter. As I’ve warned pretty much every time Neris is on a roll, he occasionally loses feel for his top weapon. When that happens, it gets ugly. He’s always recovered in the past, and I suspect he’ll do so again. The Phillies are pointedly using a committee which tells me it’s Neris’ job if he can bounce back quickly. Owners with room on their roster could consider stashing him for a week or two – just in case.
Shane Greene and Arodys Vizcaino tied for the weekly closer crown. They both saved four games since last Wednesday. Five others saves three games apiece. Edwin Diaz (27 saves) has a comfy lead atop the seasonal leaderboard. Craig Kimbrel is next best with 22 saves.
Now, shall we go to the tiers?
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Tier 1: The Elite (2)
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Kimbrel’s command has turned plaguy in recent outings. He only pitched once in the past week, working around a pair of walks. That’s now five walks in his last three innings. Chapman hasn’t allowed a run in June.
Hey look, a new tier! The closerverse is always in flux. Adjustments are necessary. I’ve split the second tier from last week in half, recognizing a slight gap in the quality of the several nearly elite closers.
Jansen had a solid week, recording three saves in four scoreless outings. His velocity remains inconsistent. He continues to induce swinging strikes at a rate well below his career norms. Despite the apparent decline, he remains a premium closer.
If not for a meltdown on May 29, Diaz would absolutely be ranked with the elite hurlers. We can’t just ignore aberrant outings, especially since Diaz has shown a penchant for occasional blips since entering the league. Still, his 14.68 K/9, 27 saves, and 2.37 ERA rank him as the most valuable closer to date.
Doolittle’s role is completely unaffected by the Herrera acquisition. The southpaw fly ball pitcher has retired 43 percent of batters faced via strikeout or infield fly (both are basically automatic outs). Most of the others have gone down by way of lazy fly out. Oh, and he doesn’t walk anybody which usually limits the occasional home run to one run.
Hand was tagged for a couple homers this week. One was in a non-save situation. No change to his status as a top closer. I still doubt he’ll be traded. Given his contract, he would certainly merit a much larger return than Herrera.
Rumors suggest Treinen may become available at the trade deadline. He’s in the midst of a fantastic season including two saves, a win, and seven strikeouts over the last week (four innings). Like Herrera, there’s a decent chance a trade would push him to a setup role. That said, he’s quite a bit better than Herrera. The Astros, for example, might consider Treinen as a means to stabilize their talented but somehow still inconsistent unit.
Iglesias is also rumored to be on the trade block. Like Treinen, the righty can be used a multi-inning setup man or a high quality closer. Escaping Great American Ballpark should help his numbers too.
Tier 4: Maybe Good? (3)
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
Vazquez remains confusing. His command often goes AWOL, as it did last Wednesday. He managed to protect a three run lead by the skin of his teeth, allowing two hits, three walks, and two runs. He then turned around and fired off a pair off dominant-looking saves.
Familia is back from the disabled list. He allowed a run and three hits in his return on Sunday. Notably, he averaged a season-high 97.3 mph with his fastball. Owners were gifted with a vulture win.
Vizcaino would rank higher if we were going purely off his 1.82 ERA, 10.01 K/9, and 3.64 BB/9. However, a few red flags lurk in the distance. ERA estimators predict between a 3.20 and 4.05 ERA for his work to this point. Regression seems likely. Moreover, Vizcaino isn’t the best reliever in his bullpen – that honor falls to Daniel Winkler. As surprise contenders, the Braves may look to add an upgrade like Treinen or Iglesias. For those reasons, fantasy owners should be wary to pay for his current performance.
Prior to last night, Rondon had firmly ousted Giles from the ninth inning role. Then he went and allowed a run in the eighth inning of a tie game, breaking the Astros winning streak in the process. That he was brought in early and failed to dispatch the Rays suggests the door remains open for Giles, Chris Devenski, or Brad Peacock to jump into the picture.
Norris receives a downgrade due to concerns about his job security. He’s suffered a mild slump in conjunction with Jordan Hicks’ emergence as an elite reliever. Hicks developed a better slider which unlocked even more value from his 100 mph fastball. He pitched the late innings yesterday, but Norris had thrown in the previous two games. He was probably unavailable. There’s a chance an official change could come in the next week, but it’s still too early for Norris owners to panic.
Soria and Greene received minor promotions out of the last tier. For Soria, superb ratios and solid recent performance are the driving forces. He’ll be trade bait at the deadline for a team hunting a bargain alternative to the big closers. Greene will also be on the block. Detroit used him on four consecutive days in the last week – he converted all four appearances for saves. Speaking of bargain relievers, throw Rodney in that bucket too.
Tier 6: Unsettled (9)
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels
Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants
Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays
Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins
Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos, Tommy Hunter, Victor Arano, Philadelphia Phillies
Sergio Romo, Chaz Roe, Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, Tampa Bay Rays
Kevin McCarthy, Brandon Maurer, Kansas City Royals
At least for now, Davis’ days appear numbered as the Rockies closer. In seven June appearances, the righty has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) in 5.2 innings. His seven strikeouts are only encouraging if you ignore the seven walks (plus a hit batsman). I fretted about his performance at Coors Field, but the recent meltdowns have occurred both at home and on the road. He’s ripe for a stint on the disabled list. Notably, his velocity was down two mph in his most recent appearance. If there’s good news, it’s that Adam Ottavino would be ranked between Doolittle and Knebel. If he’s still available on your waiver wire, now is the time to pounce.
Boxberger is also on the hot seat after allowing four runs and a pair of home runs on Sunday. The home runs are the true issue. He’s a legitimately homer prone pitcher which just doesn’t sit well when defending narrow margins in the late-innings. The rest of his profile adds up fine for high leverage relief. Fantasy owners may be interested to learn Archie Bradley saved his third game of the season on Monday. Boxberger was unavailable due to the aforementioned meltdown. I suspect Yoshihisa Hirano may be ahead of Bradley in the pecking order if Boxberger were ousted.
The last week was not kind to Parker. He allowed five runs via three home runs. He also recorded eight strikeouts across 4.1 innings of work. Knowing what we know about the predilections of Mike Scioscia, Parker could be bumped from the ninth at any moment. Or he may remain entrenched regardless of continued missteps. Justin Anderson is the nearest to competing for the role, but he has 6.75 BB/9.
Since a couple rocky weeks to open the season, Dyson has furnished a 1.35 ERA. More recently, he’s even recorded a healthy strikeout rate while limiting walks. His best attribute is a 70 percent ground ball rate. So long as he’s burning worms, he’s a solid asset. Melancon is waiting in the wings. Tom Watson has deserved the closer gig from Day 1.
Barraclough has allowed just one hit over his last 17.2 innings. That’s fantastic. He’s also sacrificed his strikeout rate (5.60 K/9) to combat his usually exorbitant walk rate. His hot streak includes a .023 BABIP. Without more swinging strikes, Barraclough will regress to a below average ERA and WHIP.
The only thing standing between Zach Britton and the closer job is about two mph of missing velocity. Otherwise, he looks ready for the job. Sure, he had a rough 2018 debut when he walked three batters, but he clamped down on the walks in his two most recent appearances. An 83 percent ground ball rate is welcome too. Brach remains the closer but for how long?
The all-out committee nature of the Phillies bullpen makes it a tad toxic for owners chasing saves. Ideally, fewer than four pitchers (plus Adam Morgan when a tough lefty shows up) would be in the mix for the key stat. The good news is that all of these guys can provide better than average ratios. Dominguez was tabbed with the loss last night after allowing a solo home run in a tie game.
Romo still tops a deep and varied committee in Tampa Bay. The club seems to have moved past using him as a starting pitcher which helps fantasy owners. He’s not the best reliever in this bullpen, but the Rays like it that way.
The post-Herrera bullpen is a mess. Unless you’re absolutely desperate for saves, I recommend speculating on other bullpens. There’s very little opportunity to extract positive value out of this unit. McCarthy has some modest ground ball chops and is the current top performer. Maurer has some past experience – albeit with painful results.
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels (elbow – out for season)
***Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays (administrative leave)
Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants (hand)
To avoid joining “the deposed” section of this column, Strickland decided to break his hand. I’m sure that’s how it happened.
Tough break for Herrera owners. I still think Giles will recover the job eventually.
The Steals Department
Those who followed the advice from last week could have profited handsomely from Michael Turner’s four steals. He paced the league. Lorenzo Cain, Delino DeShields, and Billy Hamilton trailed with three swipes apiece. Taylor is now back atop the season leaderboard with 21 steals. Teammate Trea Turner and Ender Inciarte are nipping at his heels with 20 steals. Dee Gordon lurks just below with 19 thefts. Since Taylor is kind of stuck behind Juan Soto and Adam Eaton, he definitely won’t finish the season in the top spot.
The easiest catchers to pick upon include Robinson Chirinos, Kurt Suzuki, Tyler Flowers, Devin Mesoraco, and Russell Martin.
The Twins and Padres are next on the Rangers agenda. With Byron Buxton out, the only options with any semblance of baserunning prowess are Eddie Rosario (fully owned) and shortstop Ehire Adrianza. I wrote about Adrianza in last week’s The Fringes column, available to NBC Season Pass subscribers. In short, there are some reasons to hope for decent production. He could be borderline playable in 12 team leagues for this series. By comparison, the Padres are swimming in targets including Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot, Cory Spangenberg, Jose Pirela, and Freddy Galvis.
Next up in Atlanta are the Orioles and Reds. Baltimore lacks speed. As for Cincinnati, your only meaningful play is Jose Peraza. You probably won’t have better luck exploiting the Mets. They’re finishing a series in Colorado followed by a jaunt home to host the Dodgers and Pirates. Austin Meadows and Josh Harrison are available in shallow formats. The Rockies and Dodgers lack a freely available player with speed.
Look for Angels and Astros. Both teams host the Blue Jays this week. Los Angeles features Ian Kinsler – now back in the leadoff slot – along with recently healed Andrelton Simmons. Utility man David Fletcher can also run if he happens to crack the lineup. You’ll want to play the platoons when hunting for Astros. Marwin Gonzalez is on a hot streak, although he’s mostly a power play. Jake Marisnick starts versus southpaws while Tony Kemp typically plays opposite righties.
What the Detroit Tigers were hoping would be a very big week in Ohio is off to a very slow start.
With the surprising Tigers’ biggest series of the season coming up this weekend, they’re not getting much time to turn things around.
The Tigers brought a five-game winning streak and plenty of confidence into a week that’s beginning with two games against the last-place Reds in Cincinnati and ending with three against the first-place Indians in Cleveland. They started out the week 2 1/2 games behind the Indians in the AL Central, and were talking openly of leaving Cleveland with the division lead on Sunday night.
But they’re now four games back following the Indians’ home-field wins over the Chicago White Sox on successive nights and the Tigers’ 9-5 loss to the Reds on Tuesday night. The Tigers let their game get away from them in a hurry after Joey Votto hit a grand slam in the third inning off Detroit starter Matthew Boyd (4-5).
The Tigers put up the kind of late-inning outburst that often wins games — a five-run ninth inning, against Reds reliever Wandy Peralta — but the trouble was they were down 9-0 when the inning began. Reds starter Sal Romano (4-7) shut them out on four hits over seven innings and now has allowed only one run over 15 innings in his last two starts.
“This wasn’t a good game for us,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The other guy was throwing the ball well. … It wasn’t one of our better nights. You walk a few people (six), give up a few hits and (have) some long innings, and there you have it.”
Now, the Tigers don’t have much time to bounce back as they face an afternoon game Wednesday in Great American Ball Park, with right-hander Michael Fulmer (3-5, 4.13 ERA) going up against the Reds’ best pitcher of late in Tyler Mahle (5-6, 3.96). The Reds right-hander has permitted only two earned runs over 16 1/3 innings in his last three starts.
“Detroit, you look at their record, they’re getting after it every night,” said Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman, whose team has won five of seven. “Ron Gardenhire’s got them playing hard and you’d better play the whole nine. They’re going to come after you.”
Neither pitcher in Wednesday’s game has faced the opposing team before.
Boyd hadn’t seen the Reds before, either, but Cincinnati made quick work of him, chasing him after getting five runs, six hits and three walks off him while he labored through four innings, throwing 80 pitches .
Some of the Reds’ low-average hitters did the most damage against Boyd and a Tigers bullpen that was almost flawless during the winning streak. Billy Hamilton, batting .203, went 2-for-4 with a home run and Adam Duvall, batting .196, was 3-for-4. Tucker Barnhart also was 3-for-3 as the Reds collected 13 hits.
Detroit wasted a big night at the plate by leadoff hitter Leonys Martin, who went 3-for-3 with a double and walked twice while reaching base five times.
Mahle got off to a rough start this season, losing six of his first nine decisions, but he pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals in a 7-0 win last Wednesday and five shutout innings against the San Diego Padres on June 1. In between, he gave up two runs to the Rockies in five innings on June 7.
“It’s nice to put a couple (of no-run outings) close together like that,” Mahle told reporters after beating the Royals. “I was able to put some zeros up there and our team is always going to be able to score at some point.”
Fulmer is coming off a strong start, beating the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Thursday while giving up only one run on five hits over seven innings. The win was Fulmer’s first at Comerica Park in nearly a year, or since July 15.
Votto’s homer was his seventh of the year. He also walked twice and scored two runs.
Billy Hamilton supplied a solo homer among two hits and scored twice. Tucker Barnhart went 3-for-3 with a walk while scoring twice and driving in a run. Jose Peraza scored three runs and Adam Duvall ripped three hits and drove in two runs.
Romano (4-7) was coming off an eight-inning gem against Kansas City in which he allowed one run on four hits in eight innings. He tossed seven scoreless innings on Tuesday and recorded six strikeouts while allowing four hits and four walks.
Detroit starter Matthew Boyd (4-5) lasted just four innings. He gave five runs on six hits while striking out five. Warwick Saupold surrendered three runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Tigers leadoff hitter Leonys Martin had three hits, walked twice and drove in two runs.
The Tigers had two baserunners with one out in the third, but that opportunity was wasted when Nicholas Castellanos rapped into a double play.
Votto’s blast in the bottom of the inning allowed the Reds to take command. Control issues led to Boyd’s demise as he walked No. 9 hitter Hamilton and Barnhart, sandwiching a Peraza single.
Votto then crushed his grand slam to right.
The Reds added to their lead in the fourth. Peraza walked with one out and Barnhart followed with a double to left.
The Tigers had two more baserunners in the fifth but remained scoreless when Jeimer Candelario was retired on a groundout.
Hamilton’s homer over the right field wall sparked a three-run sixth. Barnhart smacked a one-out single, Votto walked and Suarez singled to load the bases. After Scooter Gennett flied out, Duvall doubled to bring in Barnhart and Votto.
Suarez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh, making it 9-0.
Detroit ended the shutout bid with five runs in the ninth, including Martin’s two-run single.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joey Votto ended a long homer drought with his third career grand slam Tuesday night, powering the Cincinnati Reds to a 9-5 victory that ended the Detroit Tigers‘ longest winning streak in two years.
Sal Romano (4-7) had a second straight solid outing, limiting the Tigers to four singles over seven shutout innings. Billy Hamilton also homered as the Reds pulled away to a 9-0 lead.
The Tigers had won five straight and moved within a game of .500. They haven’t been to the break-even mark since they were a season-best 4-4 on April 8. They’ve wasted five chances to get back.
Trailing 9-0, Detroit finally broke through in the ninth when Wandy Peralta walked home a run and Leonys Martin followed with a double.
The Reds loaded the bases in the third with the help of a pair of walks from Matthew Boyd (4-5). Votto hit a high fly to right field that had just enough – Nicholas Castellanos stretched his glove over the top of the wall and barely missed the ball. Votto’s first homer since May 13 ended a 30-game drought. His last homer at Great American Ball Park was May 6.
Votto hit 36 homers last season, one shy of his career high. He has only seven this season.
Tucker Barnhart also had an RBI double off Boyd, who walked three batters, all of whom scored. The left-hander lasted only four innings and gave up five runs and six hits.
Romano was coming off perhaps his best performance in the majors. He went a career-high eight innings and gave up one run during a 5-1 win at Kansas City on Tuesday.
The Reds called up RH reliever Jackson Stephens and optioned RH reliever Austin Brice to Triple-A Louisville. Stephens was 0-0 with a 4.20 ERA in nine appearances for the Reds earlier this season.
Tigers: Reliever Drew VerHagen left the game in the seventh after getting hit in the face. He covered first base and missed the throw, with the ball hitting him on the left side of the nose. He was sent for X-rays.
Reds: RH Homer Bailey will be re-examined on Tuesday. He’s been sidelined since June 2 with a sore right knee.
Tigers: Michael Fulmer (2-5) has gone seven innings and allowed one run in each of his last two starts. He’s never faced the Reds.
Reds: Tyler Mahle (5-6) is 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA in three starts in June, allowing two runs in 16 1/3 innings. He’s never faced the Tigers.
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