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Tigers try to beat last year’s woeful start, face Orioles

The Detroit Tigers began last season by losing 24 of their first 33 games.

With a home loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, the Tigers would duplicate that dubious record with the season one-fifth complete.

Last season, the Tigers were expected to struggle as they continued their rebuilding process. But after they made a number of pricey free-agent acquisitions and added veterans in trades, the Tigers entered 2022 expecting to compete for a playoff berth.

Instead, they are already at the bottom of the American League, in danger of just playing out the string the last 4 1/2 months unless a major turnaround occurs.

“I don’t care about last year, I don’t care to compare it,” second-year manager A.J. Hinch said. “I get it. Everybody wants an analysis. I’ve got to figure out how to beat the Orioles tomorrow. We’re tired of losing.”

The Tigers have lost nine of their last 10 games, including four of a five-game series with Oakland that ended Thursday with a 5-3 defeat.

Detroit was shut out on Wednesday 9-0 and trailed 3-0 on Thursday afternoon before tying the game in the sixth. It was just the second time they have scored as many as three runs during their 10-game swoon.

“I felt good about the game when we battled back because we needed some spark and we got it,” Hinch said. “We got a couple of good hits and Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) gets a double and then after Miggy’s hit, we had one positive at-bat in the last 13 or 14 plate appearances. … Just a different way to lose.”

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (0-2, 4.50 ERA) will make his seventh start of the season for Detroit. He’s still seeking his first victory despite delivering his best outing of the season last week at Houston, when he gave up just one hit — a solo home run to Jose Altuve — and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings on Saturday.

“All my pitches were working,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like the mistake that I made to Altuve was the right pitch, I just missed it right on the middle of the plate. Other than that, I feel like everything was working really well.”

Rodriguez is quite familiar with Baltimore as a member of Boston’s rotation for six seasons. He’s faced the Orioles 22 times, beating them 12 times — more than any other club he has faced. He has a 12-5 record and 3.11 ERA against Baltimore.

He’ll be opposed by Jordan Lyles (2-2, 4.05 ERA), who will also be making his seventh start. Lyles pitched a season-high 7 1/3 innings against Kansas City on Sunday, allowing four runs (two earned) as he walked one with five strikeouts.

The Orioles wound up losing that game 6-4, but manager Brandon Hyde appreciated how Lyles pitched deep into the contest.

“We really haven’t had that, a guy (who is) able to take the ball and is irritated when he comes out in the eighth inning, which I’m happy about,” Hyde said. “The guy wants to stay on the mound. I think it’s fantastic. It’s huge.”

Jorge Mateo and Anthony Bemboom hit solo home runs for the Orioles Thursday as they edged the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 for their sixth win in eight games.

Rylan Bannon gave Baltimore a bit of a boost on Thursday. Called up from Triple-A Norfolk, Bannon had a single in his first major league at-bat. He was acquired in the 2018 Manny Machado deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I trusted the scouting report. I stuck to my approach,” Bannon said. “I got a pitch middle and put a good swing on it. It was a fastball right down the middle.”

–Field Level Media