Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera starts a three-game series at cozy Camden Yards on Tuesday needing two home runs to reach 500.
Facing the scuffling Baltimore Orioles bullpen should increase his chances.
Orioles relievers Cole Sulser, Paul Fry and Dillon Tate combined to allow seven runs in two innings as the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep of the Orioles with a 9-6 win on Sunday. The Baltimore bullpen gave up six runs in three innings Saturday and eight runs in four frames on Friday.
“The whole room in there is disappointed, discouraged just because we are so inconsistent in our bullpen,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s just disappointing. Sometimes our guys are pretty good out there and sometimes we walk a lot of people. Just can’t be afraid of the strike zone.”
Oriole relievers walked 12 batters in 14 innings over the weekend.
Cabrera has hit .280 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 38 career games at Camden Yards. He was rested in Sunday’s series finale against the Cleveland Indians. Since a two-homer game against the visiting Orioles on July 29, he has one round-tripper in eight games.
“I give Miguel a series-by-series plan. I’m pretty mapped out especially for him, he’s easy to do because I’m trying to lengthen his season, keep him sharp and healthy,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Cabrera is on the verge of becoming the 28th player to reach 500 home runs. The Tigers return home on Friday.
The Tigers dropped a 7-5 decision to Cleveland on Sunday, losing two of three to the team they are chasing for second in the American League Central.
Detroit right-hander Casey Mize (6-6, 3.57) opposes Baltimore left-hander Keegan Akin (0-5, 7.66) on Tuesday.
In his Aug. 4 start against the Boston Red Sox, Mize gave up four runs on seven hits — three of them home runs –in five innings of a loss to the Boston Red Sox.
“We were trying to elevate some (four-seam fastballs), and I was just really, really sailing them,” Mize said. “Turned out to be a lot of waste pitches with the four-seam, and I don’t think the slider was very effective for me. It was just a grind without those two pitches.”
One of Mize’s best outings of the season came on July 29 against the Orioles when he picked up the win, allowing one unearned run on four hits in seven innings.
Akin is set to make his first start since returning from the COVID-19 injured list. He threw three scoreless innings in relief during a 13-1 loss to the Yankees on Aug. 3.
“Love the way he was really aggressive,” Hyde said. “I liked the secondary stuff tonight. Thought he pitched really well. He had the tempo back. He went the majority from the stretch and really had a nice tempo going.”
In his most recent start, Akin allowed six runs on eight hits over three innings in a loss to the Kansas City Royals on July 16.
One bright spot for Baltimore on Sunday was Cedric Mullins, who hit his 20th home run of the season and became the seventh player in team history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season. Mullins is looking to become the first 30-30 player in franchise history.
Former Oriole Jonathan Schoop returns to Baltimore on the heels of signing a two-year $15 million extension with the Tigers. He leads Detroit with 64 RBIs to go with 18 homers and a .288 batting average.
–Field Level Media