Tigers shut down by Houston Astros, 2-1, in 7-game season sweep

Staff report


The Detroit Tigers didn’t stand a chance against Cristian Javier, just as they didn’t stand a chance against Framber Valdez on Monday and Hunter Brown on Tuesday. The American League-leading Houston Astros, far superior, came into Comerica Park, put their pitching depth on display and swept the lowly Tigers in three games.

In Wednesday’s finale, Javier delivered the final blow in a lopsided fight: six scoreless innings with zero walks and eight strikeouts.

As a result of Javier’s dominance, the Tigers lost 2-1 to drop all seven games to the Astros in the season series. They were previously swept in four games, from May 5-8, at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

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The Tigers (54-89) finally scored in the seventh inning with Astros right-handed reliever Bryan Abreu, who entered Wednesday with a 1.84 ERA in 46 games, on the mound. Javier Báez, paid to be the Tigers’ best hitter, took two pitches for balls before hammering a third-pitch slider that hung inside the strike zone for a solo home run.

The ball traveled 406 feet to left-center field.

Righty relievers Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly slammed the door on the Tigers in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.

With a runner on first base, rookie Riley Greene nearly hit a go-ahead home run off Stanek in the eighth inning, but he flied out at the center-field wall. He swung at a 3-0 fastball, clocked at 96.4 mph, with two outs. The ball, hit with a 107.5 mph exit velocity, traveled 424 feet and would have been a homer in 28 of 30 MLB parks.

At Comerica Park, though, Greene’s big swing resulted in the third out.

Javy vs. Javy

Facing Javier, the Tigers collected just two hits; Kerry Carpenter and Greene singled in the second and sixth innings, respectively. After Greene’s single, Willi Castro flied out to the warning track in right field to end the sixth inning.

Báez struck out twice in a pair of matchups with Javier. In the fourth, he swung at four consecutive down-and-away sliders that ended up in the left-handed batter’s box. He whiffed at the first slider, whiffed at the second, fouled off the third and whiffed at the fourth.

It was one of Báez’s worst plate appearances this season.

Astros pitcher Cristian Javier throws a pitch in the first inning on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Comerica Park.

After Carpenter’s second-inning single, Javier retired 13 batters in a row before Greene snapped the Tigers’ skid with his full-count single on a fastball inside the strike zone. By doing so, he extended his on-base streak to 20 games, the longest active streak in the big leagues.

Javier threw 64 of 90 pitches for strikes, using 50 four-seam fastballs (56%), 24 sliders (27%), 15 curveballs (17%) and one changeup (1%). He generated 14 swings and misses and 17 called strikes, as his slider and curve were particularly sharp.

Early departure for Wentz

Tigers left-hander Joey Wentz took the mound for his fourth MLB start (and his second since returning from Triple-A Toledo). The 24-year-old allowed two runs on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts over four innings.

Wentz threw 28 pitches in the first inning, 15 pitches in the second, 16 pitches in the third and 23 pitches in the fourth. A nine-pitch leadoff walk to the nine-hole batter in the fifth inning forced his departure at 91 pitches.

In the fourth inning, Kyle Tucker hit a solo home run off Wentz’s cutter for a 1-0 lead. Wentz stranded a runner — Trey Mancini (double) — on third base with back-to-back strikeouts with his cutter to escape further damage, however.

In the fifth, Alex Bregman put the Astros ahead 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.

Wentz, who tossed 59 strikes, used 47 four-seam fastballs (52%), 20 cutters (22%), 13 changeups (14%) and 11 curveballs (12%). He recorded seven swings and misses: three fastballs, two cutters and two changeups.

His cutter was his best pitch, but he struggled to command his fastball — especially on the inside part of the plate — as the Astros stacked their lineup with eight right-handed hitters.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Tigers stumped again by Houston Astros’ arms in 2-1 loss, series sweep

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