DETROIT – Trevor Bauer made short work of the Detroit Tigers, capping Major League Baseball's first seven-inning doubleheader with a shutout.
Bauer threw a two-hitter in Cincinnati's 4-0 victory in the second game Sunday. The Reds beat the Tigers 4-3 in the opener. MLB recently decided to use doubleheaders of seven-inning games, which have been commonplace in the minor leagues and colleges, to help teams alleviate an expected crush of twinbills caused by weather and coronavirus-related postponements.
“It was great to win two games when we've been struggling so badly, but it was even better to sweep the first one of these in major league history,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Someone said the Hall of Fame has called for some memorabilia from today, so that's cool.”
Shogo Akiyama hit an RBI single in the top of the seventh to lift the Reds to the win in the first game.
“We've had a tough time in these first ten days, and we've especially struggled against Detroit,” Bell said. “The guys were determined to win one game and once they got that one, they wanted to get the second one.”
The Reds-Tigers game was rained out Saturday. Bauer was supposed to pitch, and he was furious when there was a delay so close to the start time. But the postponement meant he only had to throw seven innings for his shutout Sunday. He finished with 111 pitches.
“It was a constant struggle because of whatever you want to call what happened yesterday — there was a lot of doubt in my mind if I was going to be able to pitch today,” he said. “I don't prepare for a start by going on the day before and doing long toss, intense pulldowns and an intense warmup. You have to let your body recover to be ready to pitch."
Bauer wasn't confirmed as the starter for the second game until he arrived at the park.
“We told him to sleep in and recover as much as he could,” Bell said. "I didn't make a decision until he got here right before the first game and I got a chance to look in his eyes.
“With a seven-inning game, I knew he was already sniffing a complete game. That's just who he is.”
Matt Davidson had an RBI single in the first inning and Aristides Aquino added another in the second against Detroit starter Daniel Norris (0-1). Christian Colon added a two-run single in the seventh to give Bauer a four-run cushion.
At one point in the first game, Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani forgot the teams were only playing seven innings.
"When the Tigers scored those three runs to tie the game in the sixth, I was thinking we still had three innings left to win the game,” DeSclafani said. “I forgot we were only playing seven. I don’t even remember the last time I played a seven-inning game.”
Nick Castellanos homered twice and drove in three runs for Cincinnati in the opener against his former team. But his three-base error in right field with the bases loaded in the sixth allowed Detroit to tie the game.
Reliever Tyler Alexander had kept the Tigers in it by striking out the first nine batters he faced, tying the American League record for consecutive strikeouts.
“I don't normally try to strike guys out, but after about the fifth one, I was trying to strike guys out,” he said.
His streak ended in the top of the sixth, one short of Tom Seaver’s major league record, when he hit Mike Moustakas with a 1-2 pitch. Moustakas left the game with a forearm injury.
“I was trying to go up and in to brush him back so I could come back with my slider,” Alexander said. “It obviously got away from me.”
The start of the first game was delayed more than two hours because of rain. Then the game took 2 hours, 25 minutes. The second game went 2:36.
The scoreboard at Comerica Park was still set to display a nine-inning game.
With the score tied and the new doubleheader rules in place, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire brought in closer Joe Jimenez (0-1) to start the seventh inning of the opener.
Freddy Galvis led off with a double, took third on Tucker Barnhart's single and scored on Akiyama's bouncer through the drawn-in infield.
Raisel Iglesias (1-1) got the final out of the sixth before pitching a scoreless seventh. The Reds still don't have a save this season.
Reds: Cincinnati activated DeSclafani (shoulder) from the 10-day injured list before the game and placed 1B Joey Votto on the short-term injured list.
“We don't have any update on Joey — we're just hoping he feels better,” Bell said.
In the seventh inning of the first game, with the Reds protecting a one-run lead, second baseman Kyle Farmer made the play of the day. After JaCoby Jones' hard grounder ricocheted off first baseman Josh VanMeter's glove toward centerfield, Farmer leaped to grab it with his bare hand and threw to Iglesias for the out at first.
“That's as good a play as I've ever seen in person,” Bell said. “That was just incredible to get us a huge out.”
Reds: The Reds return home for two games against the Cleveland Indians in the first half of a four-game home-and-home series. Cincinnati's Sonny Gray (2-0) is scheduled to face Zach Plesac (0-0) on Monday.
Tigers: Detroit has Monday off, then is scheduled to host four games in three days against the St. Louis Cardinals. Matthew Boyd (0-1) is supposed to pitch for the Tigers on Tuesday, but the Cardinals just had a series at Milwaukee called off because of positive coronavirus tests, so St. Louis' status is uncertain.
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