Tue, 28 Sep 2021

Spenser Watkins, Orioles attempt to take series against Tigers

Field Level Media
01 Aug 2021, 21:05 GMT+10

The Baltimore Orioles have shown signs of life over the past week. On Sunday at Detroit, they'll seek their seventh victory in the past nine games.

The Orioles have won the past two games of the four-game series after the Tigers captured Thursday's opener.

"I'm excited for where this team is going," said Saturday's winning pitcher, John Means. "I feel like guys are starting to kind of get a feel for what they need to do to have success at this level, especially the young guys. They are seeing how teams are approaching us, especially from the pitching side, and adjusting to it, which is the name of the game. It's making those constant adjustments. It's cool to see."

Baltimore rookie right-hander Spenser Watkins (2-1, 3.10 ERA) will make his fifth career start on Sunday. In his most recent outing, he surrendered four runs on nine hits in four innings to Miami on Tuesday.

Watkins had trouble spotting his off-speed pitches.

"Trying to find that consistent feel was a little bit more of a search for me (Tuesday), rather than having it from pitch one," he said. "I wouldn't sit here and say that I took a step back by any means."

He delivered a quality start in his last road outing, on July 19, holding Tampa Bay to one run on four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.

He'll look to post a victory against an organization that released him last summer. He has several ex-teammates in the Tigers' dugout, including starting pitchers Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize.

Detroit drafted Watkins in the 30th round in 2014, and he reached the Triple-A level but never got a call-up. He posted a combined 9-7 record and 6.07 ERA at three minor-league levels two years ago and didn't pitch in organized ball last season due to the pandemic.

"Stepping on that mound (in Detroit) for the first time is going to be an incredible feeling," Watkins told The Detroit News. "But knowing myself as a competitor, once I get out there, it doesn't matter the name on the jersey, I'm attacking the hitter. It's the lead-up to it; that's the emotional piece for me."

Detroit will counter with left-hander Tyler Alexander (1-1, 4.80). In his last outing on Tuesday, Alexander allowed five runs on six hits in four innings at Minnesota. He gave up a first-inning grand slam to Mitch Garver, the 10th long ball he's allowed in 50 2/3 innings this season.

Alexander won his only career start against the Orioles.

The Tigers have rallied late in each of the past two games, only to come up short. On Saturday, they were down 5-1 in the ninth. They loaded the bases with no outs but scored only one run.

Willi Castro made a crucial drop of a throw at second base, which led to three unearned runs in the sixth inning.

"We didn't do enough to win the game. Bottom line," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "We had a lot of empty at-bats early in the game and had a critical mistake following a couple of walks. You do that and put yourself in a hole, it's not easy to come back."

--Field Level Media

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