The Detroit Tigers look to further distance themselves from two gaudy losing streaks when they face the host Cleveland Indians again on Saturday.
The Tigers rode the momentum of a seven-run fourth inning to a 10-5 victory over the Indians in the opener of a three-game series on Friday. The win snapped a nine-game skid overall for Detroit, as well as a string of 20 consecutive setbacks against Cleveland dating back to a 4-1 triumph on April 10, 2019.
“It’s just basically getting that 20-game monkey off your back, and then nine, how many we lost in a row this year. Nine?” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We needed a win more than anything else, it’s not even about all that other stuff. After the win, yeah, we talked about it. We just needed to play a good ballgame and get a win for everybody to feel good about themselves.
“It’s good we got all that other stuff out of the way, though, because those kind of hang over you.”
On Saturday, the Tigers will look to produce both a second straight win overall and a second consecutive victory versus Cleveland.
Jonathan Schoop belted a two-run homer to highlight his four-hit performance in the series opener. Schoop has two homers among his 10 hits over his past five games overall.
Austin Romine carries a seven-game hitting streak (9-for-26 with five RBIs) into Saturday versus Cleveland right-handed prospect Triston McKenzie, who will make his major league debut.
McKenzie has not pitched competitively since August 2018. He made 16 starts for Double-A Akron that year before missing all of the 2019 campaign with a strained right rotator cuff and right pectoral muscle.
While McKenzie has thrown several bullpen sessions, Indians pitching coach Carl Willis said the time is right for the 23-year-old to make his season debut — for a number of reasons.
“The feeling (was) like bringing someone up and having them start would be a better situation than potentially having to bring somebody up to give us length and they’re making their debut and they’ve never pitched out of the bullpen before,” Willis said, per Cleveland.com. “It wasn’t like it was just a no-brainer, but we feel like we’re definitely in the best spot with Triston on Saturday.”
Gardenhire added his two cents on what he knows about McKenzie.
“I know he’s about 6-foot-5 and he’s really skinny,” Gardenhire said of McKenzie, who is listed at 165 pounds.
Detroit left-hander Matthew Boyd (0-3, 9.64 ERA) will attempt to keep the ball in the park on Saturday when he bids for his first win of the season.
Boyd has surrendered seven homers in his three starts this month, including three solo shots in four innings of a 7-2 road setback against the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
The 29-year-old surrendered five homers to Cleveland in a pair of games in Cleveland last season. He owns a 2-4 mark with a 3.79 ERA in 11 career meetings (10 starts) with the Indians.
“They’re good hitters. They’ve been a good ballclub for a long time,” Boyd said of the Indians. “After Pitch 1, the rest kind of tells itself what to do. The first pitch will tell what the next one should be.”
Boyd has yet to face Franmil Reyes in his career, but he’d be wise to keep a keen eye on the slugger. Reyes belted a two-run shot on Friday to give him four homers and seven RBIs in four games against the Tigers this season.
–Field Level Media