Detroit Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who was playing through puddles on the inside, made the mistake that shaped the outcome of Wednesday afternoon’s game, but left-back Eduardo Rodriguez was not guilty.
“My job is to get the next guy out,” Rodriguez said.
A throwing error from Candelario with two outs in the fourth inning led the Boston Red Sox to attack Rodriguez in five more runs in what ended up being a six-run frame for the road team.
The Tigers lost, 9-7.
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“No apologies,” Candelario said. “I just made the mistake. That’s what it is. It’s always disappointing not to make those games, but we will go from there. We will work hard not to make those mistakes again.”
Fifteen minutes after the first pitch, the rain began to fall on Comerica Park and continued until the bottom of the fifth inning. The crew took the course several times to pour fresh soil in an attempt to preserve the sloppy infield, batter’s box and pitcher’s mound.
Detroit fell to a record of 2-4, losing rows against each other to the Chicago White Sox and Red Sox to open the 2022 season. The Tigers travel to Kansas City for a four-game series.
First of many
Spencer Torkelson, in his sixth MLB game, teased the first home run of his career in the seventh inning, sending a quick ball from left-hander Austin Davis into the seats in the left field.
Torkelson finished 2-on-4 with two RBIs.
“It feels great,” Torkelson said. “I sat there a bit and enjoyed it a bit. I did not mean to show up on the jug or anything. I knew I got it as soon as I hit it so I would enjoy it.”
The Tigers scored three races in the eighth and had the opportunity for more with the bases filled and without outs, thanks to Eric Haase (RBI single), Harold Castro (walk) and Torkelson (single). Red Sox manager Alex Cora called for left-wing Jake Diekman out of the bullpen, and Tigers manager AJ Hinch countered by squeezing Miguel Cabrera.
Diekman knocked out Cabrera and Akil Baddoo, but Victor Reyes hit an RBI single. Austin Meadows was hit by Diekman’s shooter to full counter, giving another run to a 9-7 deficit.
Jonathan Schoop jumped out to the right Hansel Robles to beach the bases filled in the eighth inning. Robles returned to the Ninth and eliminated the Tigers in order.
“You fall like that, I’m really proud of our guys for not giving the blankets away and getting into the next series,” Hinch said. “It was a good sign. We had some good fluctuations and gave ourselves a chance in the end, it just fell short. I am encouraged by both the effort and the production.”
Rodriguez, who struck for the Red Sox from 2015-21, allowed seven runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks against in his first ever game with his old team.
The 29-year-old joined the Tigers by signing a five-year, $ 77 million contract last season. Although Candelario made the throwing error, Rodriguez let the Red Sox hit him three consecutive doubles to the left field.
Hinch tore Rodriguez out of the match with two outs in the fourth. Right-handed reliever Rony Garcia, a 24-year-old and former draft Rule 5, won the final.
“We probably need a little more aggression in his next start,” Hinch said. “I’m sure it was a strange start for him going against his former teammates. But the impact of his stuff changed as the match went on. He lost his sense of command and they took advantage of it.”
When the wet paper bag fell apart
Before the fourth, Rodriguez cruised against his former teammates.
The Tigers gave him an one-run lead in the first inning of Schoop’s solo home run on Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi. Rodriguez supported his new team with zeros across the first two innings.
Rodriguez allowed a matching solo homerun to Enrique Hernandez in the third.
Then the Red Sox exploded in six races in the fourth.
“I lost my command a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “I made some mistakes and they took advantage of it. That’s the way it is, no matter who you face. Too much over the plate, too much in the strike zone. That was what happened.”
JD Martinez pulled a six-pitch walk to set off Rodriguez’s fall, and Bobby Dalbec hit a single to amplify the pressure. Cora used a sacrificial pile from Christian Arroyo to promote the runners; Alex Verdugo put Boston ahead 2-1 with a sacrificial shot.
That was when Candelario made his throwing mistake.
“He was mediocre,” Cora said, “and when we got him in the zone, we did harm.”
After Christian Vazquez reached safety, the Red Sox produced three doubles in a row from Jackie Bradley Jr., Hernandez and Rafael Devers. These extra-base hits got the Tigers down 6-1. Against Garcia, Trevor Story beat Devers a single goal to make it 7-1.
Rodriguez finished with five strikeouts: Story (twice), Dalbec, Vazquez, Bradley. For his 72 pitches (44 strikes), he used 42 four-seam fastballs (58%), 14 sinkers (19%), six cutters (8%), six changeups (8%) and four sliders (6%). He recorded nine turns and misses with five fours, two sinks and two substitutions.
He had eight called strikes, only two with his secondary pitches.
“Today was a tough day to pitch with the rain,” Barnhart said. “Conditions were bad. But I thought he was good. I thought his stuff was really good. They just put a few hits together in the fourth that made him work. Just one of those days.”
Not a total loss
The Tigers got a run back in the fifth inning when Baddoo – a day after the midfielder recorded his first hit of the season – smashed a line-drive home to the right midfield.
Eovaldi knocked out the other three batsmen in the fifth: Tucker Barnhart, Reyes and Meadows. Like Tiger Rodriguez, Eovaldi got his second start for the Red Sox.
The Boston Opening Day starter allowed two runs on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in five innings. The Tigers totaled seven runs on 11 hits, three walks and 12 strikeouts.
As a replacement for Rodriguez, Garcia finished fourth and hit fifth and sixth innings without a goal. He made room for right-hander Drew Hutchison, who allowed two runs on three hits and one step in the seventh.
Hutchison worked about two base runners on a pointless eighth.
Left closer to Gregory Soto struck the ninth and worked around a leadoff double by Verdugo.
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