Jonathan Schoop walked into the clubhouse at Comerica Park on Monday morning in the middle of a season long slump.
He left Monday night feeling like one of the hottest hitters in baseball, after the best nine hours of his season.
Following a perfect 4-for-4 Game 1 of the doubleheader, Schoop picked up where he left off in Game 2, going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, raising his average from .191 to .207.
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That buoyed the offense early before Riley Greene drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and Eric Haase hit a solo shot in the seventh, propelling the Detroit Tigers to a 5-3 win, and a sweep of the twinbill.
“He’s had some really good at-bats,” Hinch said of Schoop. “Then I mention his defense because he made some plays that helped us win on that side, too.
“It is nice to have guys contribute, when you get it from the top of the order and the bottom of the order, we’re a different offense when they guys are going, Jonathan included.”
Schoop got the scoring started early, leading off the third with a double for his fifth hit in as many at bats on the day. After advancing to third on a Victor Reyes ground ball to the right side, Greene came to the plate.
The rookie hit a chopper to second baseman Andres Gimenez, Schoop broke for home immediately and used a textbook hook slide around the outside of the plate to beat the tag by Sandy Leon.
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Faedo’s fine start
With the way Alex Faedo was pitching early, that early lead felt pretty good for the Tigers (32-47).
After three rough outings in a row for Faedo, the rookie making the 11th start of his career, cruised through three innings, needing just 40 pitches while scattering one hit and one walk.
Then, the fourth inning happened.
Faedo allowed an Amed Rosario leadoff walk, followed by a Jose Ramirez single, Franmil Reyes double, Andres Gimenez sac fly and Owen Miller single.
All of a sudden, a one-run lead became a two-run deficit. After inducing a pop up to get to two outs, the 26-year-old issued consecutive walks to Leon and Oscar Mercado, prompting a mound visit from manager AJ Hinch and assistant athletic trainer Matt Rankin.
Faedo threw a few test pitches, before he was pulled with right hip soreness, according to the team.
“I saw him start to compensate for his delivery,” Hinch said. “You could tell (his hip) started to change his delivery a bit, but when I got out there I was glad it wasn’t arm related.
“He wanted to throw a couple pitches … he didn’t want to tell me that he needed to come out but you could see it in his face and see it in his delivery so I took him out.”
Tyler Alexander came in with the bases loaded and got Steven Kwan to line out, avoiding any further damage.
Scratching a few across
The Tigers were given a gift at the bottom of the fourth. Haase led off the inning with a little league pop-up in front of the mound, as both starting pitcher Konnor Pilkington and catcher Leon converged.
The two nearly collided before the ball bounced off Pilkington’s glove and rolled away, allowing Haase to reach second base.
“Those are never easy when a catcher has to go out into the field, that sucks,” Haase said. “When the pitcher didn’t take charge I was like ‘okay, let me get on my horse’ and the next thing you know, clank and rolls all the way to the backstop.
“I’ve been in that position, I know how hard it is, so I was just going to run it out.”
After Spencer Torkelson grounded out on a 104.6 mph shot, Harold Castro beat out an infield single that was overturned after he was initially called out.
That brought up Schoop, with runners on the corners, who singled — his sixth consecutive hit — to score Haase and cut the lead in half. Reyes followed with a fielders choice to drive in Castro and tie the game, 3-3.
Torkelson led the sixth inning off with a single, followed by a Castro strikeout and Schoop line out — which he hit 105.6 mph.
Reyes ripped a 3-2 fastball into the right field to advance Torkelson to third base, before Greene stepped to the plate and hit another chopper. This time, it trickled just over the mound, leaving no chance for a play and an go-ahead infield single.
Greene has reached base in 14 of his 15 career MLB games.
Haase would provide the fireworks in the next frame.
After two quick outs to start the seventh, Haase got a hanging curveball on the first pitch and blasted it to left field, going 389 feet at 106.6 mph beyond the bullpen to put the Tigers ahead by the eventual final score.
“It’s not that I didn’t like (breaking balls before), it’s just you never know what you’re going to get,” Haase said. “If you start looking for them in those counts, you get some back up (breaking balls) like I was able to get tonight, they’re still good pitches to hit, it doesn’t have to be a heater.
“The more I’m able to string these A-Bs together looking for those pitches, it just gets better and better to be zoning in on those pitches.”
The bullpen, which has been the bright spot for the Tigers this season, shined again.
Entering in the fourth, Alexander got out of a bases loaded jam. That set the tone for his day, throwing 3⅓ scoreless innings, while allowing just two singles and no walks.
“If we had a player of the game, we would give it to him because of the efficiency, plus the outs, plus the zeroes,” Hinch said. “Probably the biggest out he got was the first out he got with the bases loaded against Kwan.
“That game is completely different if they put up a four or five spot there.”
After the game, Alexander said he got away with a “crap” slider that Kwan hit hard, but was fortunate it happened to go right to Greene.
Other than that, he was in control and able to induce weak contact by missing barrels against a lineup that puts more balls in play than any other team in the majors.
“It’s been my role to kind of bridge the gap between the starter and the back end of the bullpen,” Alexander said. “I did that today with I guess an extra inning. I wasn’t exactly expecting to get the third up, but I was efficient.”
Since returning from the injured list in the middle of June, Alexander has allowed just one earned run in 13⅓ innings on eight hits, six walks and seven strikeouts.
Alex Lange followed suit in the eighth inning when he struck out the heart of the Guardians order.
He needed four pitches to strikeout Rosario on a curveball, seven pitches before getting Ramirez to swing through a 95 mph sinker and three pitches before setting Reyes down on curveball to punchout the side in order.
After using Michael Fulmer and Gregory Soto in Game 1, Hinch turned to Joe Jimenez to close out Game 2, which he did, setting down the Guardians in order with a strikeout mixed in for his first save of the season.
“Joe Jimenez, it started on his own during the lockout where he revamped a few things and locked in on what he needed to do to be better than he’s been the previous couple of seasons, Hinch said. “He’s not going to want to talk about it, not going to tip his hand on what he’s doing but he’s got an inner-focus this season that’s better than last year.
“When we put him in any situation, he’s responded very well so I’m very proud of him.”
Contact Tony Garcia at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.