Ron Gardenhire knew there would be some rough weeks when he accepted the managerial job with the rebuilding Detroit Tigers. This is turning out to be one of those weeks.
The Tigers come home to Comerica Park after getting swept in a four-game series by Cleveland. They’ll find the slugging New York Yankees waiting for them in a three-game weekend series that kicks off a 10-game homestand.
Detroit (4-8) scored only five runs against the Indians and have pushed across six over the last five games. One of its top starters, Michael Fulmer, was pounded during a 9-3 defeat on Thursday night.
“It’s not going to get easier,” Gardenhire said. “We’re going to go home, in front of our people, our fans, and hopefully we’ll be fired up enough to go out there (and play well). It all starts with our pitcher and catching the ball. If we do that against those guys, we’ll have a chance. But you’ve got to play good baseball against these good teams. That’s why they’re in the playoffs every year. These are good learning experiences for us. Hopefully, we’ll get better.”
Leadoff hitter Leonys Martin had back-to-back three-hit games in the final two contests of the Cleveland series. Otherwise, most of the Tigers’ bats need to heat up.
Gardenhire, who replaced Brad Ausmus during the offseason, is still encouraged by the club’s approach.
“Even in (Thursday’s) game, we got behind but they didn’t quit in the dugout,” he said. “They kept rooting for each other, they kept rooting to get hits. We kept putting a few guys on base. If we keep doing that, we’ll be fine. These guys have some courage here. I know that. I expect that out of them and they expect that out of themselves.”
Right-hander Mike Fiers (1-0), who was signed to a one-year, $6 million contract as a free agent, will make his second start for the Tigers. He impressed in his team debut, tossing six scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Fiers didn’t hit 90 mph on the radar gun but kept the White Sox off-balance. He has started three games against the Yankees in his career, posting a 5.52 ERA without a decision.
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery (0-0) is the scheduled Yankees starter. He has made two starts without a decision this season and will face the Tigers for the first time in his young career.
Montgomery gave up four runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against Baltimore on Sunday.
“Wasn’t commanding the fastball so I was throwing changeups, curveballs and sliders for strikes more (often),” he said afterward.
The Yankees (6-7) have lost five of seven and dropped two of three to archrival Boston this week. Things were calmer in Fenway Park on Thursday in the aftermath of the brawl on Wednesday. Boston reliever Joe Kelly hit Tyler Austin with a pitch after a hard slide into second by Austin earlier in the game.
“Hopefully, it’s something that’s behind us,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s two passionate clubs and those kinds of things happen over the course of a season.”
The Yankees didn’t score until the ninth inning in a 6-3 loss.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks was activated from the 10-day disabled list Thursday after recovering from an intercostal muscle strain. He served as the designated hitter and went 0-for-4.