The Tigers flipped the script on Tuesday night with a 7-1 victory over the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs after losing by six runs in Monday’s series opener.
A fresh start
Statistically speaking, Spencer Turnbull came up one out shy of a quality start. However, across 5 ⅔ scoreless innings, he rediscovered the version of himself that Tigers fans hope will be an integral part of their starting rotation for years to come.
Turnbull picked up his third win of the season on Tuesday night, matching his total from the entire 2019 campaign. The 27-year-old breezed through the first two innings in 25 pitches, which felt vital for his confidence after racking up 60 pitches through two frames before getting pulled in his previous start.
“After my start in Chicago, there were just a couple of things mentally that I know I was not doing well, and I worked on that a little bit,’’ said Turnbull. “I think when I let guys on base--I just started trying to do way too much. My delivery started quickening up, worrying about runners, and causing bad habits to creep in. This week I focused on slowing everything down mechanically and not trying to throw so hard.’’
Turnbull’s forgettable outing in Chicago included walking home a run in a laborious 37-pitch first inning. On Tuesday night, he looked far more poised when presented with high-stress moments against a Cubs lineup that doesn’t give you much breathing room.
After walking two of the first three batters that he faced in the fifth, Turnbull suddenly found himself with runners on first and second with one out. He passed the test by striking out Anthony Rizzo on a 95 mph fastball and then getting Javier Baez to lineout in the subsequent moments. An exuberant yell came out of Turnbull and a well-earned thrusting of his fist followed.
Breaking it open
The bottom half of inning number six produced fireworks that were absent from Detroit’s performance on Monday night. Five runs, three hits, most notably the fourth career grand slam for Jonathan Schoop to make it 7-0 rounded out an explosive sixth inning for the Tigers.
Jacoby Jones, Isaac Paredes, Cameron Maybin and Austin Romine reached base in the sixth prior to Schoop sprinkling the finishing touches on a memorable inning.
“We’ve got a good player. We knew that going in,’’ said manager Ron Gardenhire when asked about Schoop. “We knew it in Spring Training. He’s one of those pleasant guys. And he can hit. He can really hit it a long way, as he did again tonight.’’
Jonathan Schoop entered Tuesday night hitting .444 in his last seven games with two homers. The grand slam accounted for his team-leading seventh homer of the season.
After losing nine consecutive games through the middle of August, the Tigers (12-16) now have a shot at back-to-back series wins.
The rubber match between the Cubs and Tigers is scheduled for 7:10 PM tonight. RHP Michael Fulmer (0-0, 9.53) will pitch for Detroit against Chicago’s LHP John Lester (2-1, 5.06).