With his innings on the rise again, Detroit Tigers right-hander Casey Mize will look to collect his first win this month during the opener of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.
Mize had his pitch counts tapered down in his last two starts prior to the All-Star break, part of a plan to keep the prized rookie in the rotation all season. He is gradually ramping back up, going four innings in his first post-All-Star-break start and 4 2/3 innings in his latest outing.
Manager AJ Hinch tried to give him five innings on Saturday in Kansas City, but Mize gave up four runs in the fifth after holding the Royals scoreless through the first four.
Before that outing, Mize (5-5, 3.63 ERA) had allowed three runs or fewer in 14 consecutive starts dating back to April 29.
"I haven't had an inning like that in a long time where it kind of snowballed on me," Mize said afterward. "A few singles to start the inning. I got two outs and (Salvador Perez) put a good swing on one (for a homer).
"That was going to be my last inning of the game, and it was definitely not how I envisioned it."
He will be opposed Thursday by a less seasoned rookie, Alexander Wells (1-0, 4.35 ERA). The left-hander will be making his fourth career appearance and second start.
Wells allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings while striking out seven Tampa Bay Rays on July 21. He settled in after giving up a run in each of the first two innings.
Wells was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk just prior to that start.
"Third inning onwards, I felt a lot better," Wells said. "Instead of trying to nibble around the plate, I just went out there and I attacked the zone like I normally do and have been doing lately. Knowing that my stuff can play here, it gives me confidence going into my next appearance."
The Tigers are coming off a bizarre 17-14 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday in which they nearly gave away a 10-run lead. Detroit pitchers surrendered seven home runs, but the Tigers held on to take two of three in Minneapolis.
"It was a long day, but a productive day," Hinch said. "We got a series win at a place where we hadn't won this year."
The Tigers did their offensive damage without the benefit of a homer, the first time they scored that many runs without a long ball in 60 years.
"Just an absolutely wild game," catcher Grayson Greiner said. "Some days the offense is going to be there, and a lot of days the pitching staff is going to pick up the offense. Today the offense did a great job."
The Orioles got some good news on Wednesday as right fielder Anthony Santander and left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin cleared health and safety protocols. It's uncertain if they will be activated in Detroit.
"We want to get them on the field," Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. "It's been a week. Get them on the field, get them moving around and see how their legs are and make a decision in the next couple days."
Baltimore rallied on Wednesday for an 8-7 win over the Miami Marlins, scoring three runs in the last two innings. The Orioles have won four of their past five games.
The Tigers are 9-4 since the All-Star break.
--Field Level Media