DETROIT (AP) — In the big picture, the Detroit Tigers are helping themselves with a bad finish to a terrible season.
Edwin Jackson allowed five runs in five innings, and the Tigers took control of the race for the top pick in next June’s amateur draft with an 8-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire isn’t looking at the grand scheme,
“This is a young, tired baseball team that has played a lot of games without much time off, and we’ve got a few more days before we get a day off,” Gardenhire said. “That’s not an excuse, though. We didn’t play well today. We need to be better tomorrow.”
Detroit (44-104) has lost two of the first three games of the four-game series against the Orioles (49-100), opening a 4½-game advantage for the worst record in the major leagues. Any combination of 10 Tigers losses and Orioles wins would clinch the top pick for Detroit in a draft highlighted by Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson and Georgia pitcher Emerson Hancock.
Baltimore took Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the top pick this year after finishing 47-115 last season. Detroit selected Auburn pitcher Casey Mize with the No. 1 selection in 2018, a year after going 64-98.
Detroit trailed 6-2 before a 39-minute rain delay in the middle of the sixth inning.
“The game had no pace, with a lot of walks, and that means our guys are standing around in the field and losing their edge,” Gardenhire said. “I think that got even worse after the rain.”
Baltimore’s bullpen took over after the delay, striking out nine in four scoreless innings.
“They did a really nice job, but we gave them a breather by adding on some runs,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “That hasn’t been one of our strong suits this season, so it was good to see.”
Baltimore won a night after blowing leads in the ninth and 12th innings of an 8-4 defeat that ended with John Hicks’ grand slam.
“I think we’ve done really well in bounce-back games,” Rio Ruiz said. “It is huge to come back today and do what we did.”
Jackson (3-10) gave up seven hits and two walks in five-plus innings, dropping to 0-6 with a 11.47 ERA in his last five starts.
Asher Wojciechowski (3-8) won for the first time since July 26, allowing two runs and eight hits in five innings. He had been 0-5 in his previous eight starts.
Trailing 2-1, the Orioles took the lead in a three-run third that included Dwight Smith Jr.’s two-out triple, Hanser Alberto’s run-scoring bunt single and tiebreaking two-run homer by Ruiz. Baltimore broke open the game on two-run singles by Jonathan Villar off Nick Ramirez in the sixth and Anthony Santander against Matt Hall in the eighth. Santander stopped an 0-for-27 slide.
The game was delayed by rain for 39 minutes in the bottom of the sixth.
TIGERS CLOSE IN ON LOSS RECORD
Detroit is 20-54 at home with seven games left at Comerica Park. The big league record of 59 losses was by the 1939 St. Louis Browns.
HONORING CHACE NUMATA
All of the Tigers in the first inning walked to the plate to “Give It Up” by KC and the Sunshine Band in honor of Chace Numata. The catching prospect, who used that as his walk-up song with Double-A Erie, died on Sept. 2 after a skateboarding accident. His family donated his liver, pancreas, heart and both kidneys to patients in need.
Baltimore LHP John Means (10-10, 3.47) and Detroit LHP Tyler Alexander (0-3, 5.40) are slated to start Monday’s series finale. “This is a weird feeling,” Hyde said. “I thought maybe tomorrow was a holiday or something, because staying on a Sunday night and playing at 4 on Monday afternoon is definitely different.”