September 27, 2022

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Brieske flirts with no-no against White Sox

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CHICAGO — It was a game of firsts for the Detroit Tigers.

Beau Brieske earned the first back-to-back quality starts of his career, Javier Báez blasted his first home run in Chicago since being traded last year and the Tigers recorded the first runs of the game on Thursday.

It all came together to help the Tigers earn a hard-fought 2-1 victory against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, adding to what is now their first five-game win streak of the season.

“We did a lot right against a really good pitcher,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “[Dylan] Cease is as good as they get, and we made him work. Javy had a big swing and we hung in there. Everybody did a really good job doing their part. Pretty fun win.”

Brieske set the tone early and brought his A-game in his 14th career start. He retired the first seven batters he faced — four via strikeout — and 15 of the first 16 White Sox hitters. That strong start led to the rookie carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning, when Josh Harrison broke it up with a single to left field.

“He was excellent,” Hinch said. “He did a lot right, making pitches. Excellent job of executing different looks and just an all-around good effort.”

The right-hander gave up just two hits, one walk and four strikeouts across 6 1/3 innings. The win marked his fifth career quality start and second in as many starts for the Tigers.

“He pitched well tonight,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. We needed that one out of him tonight, and he was awesome.”

The 24-year-old threw his slider on 31% of his pitches, with the four-seam fastball (24%), changeup (23%) and sinker (22%) not far behind. His masterful pitch mix led him to deliver one of the strongest starts of his career and earn his second win as a big leaguer.

“That was the difference for me tonight,” Brieske said. “I feel like I executed the sinker better than I have all year. I was able to throw it for strikes and get it on the hands, so we can get some weak contact.”

Brieske, though, couldn’t have done it without his teammates. Báez helped his cause by delivering his 8th home run of the season in the fourth to give the Tigers an early lead, and the defense did its part as well.

“You have to make plays and not give them extra outs,” Hinch said. “It was good for us to play clean. It’s a fundamental game, but one-run games, you look back at that and those [plays] are really key.”

It’s also an encouraging sign for Detroit to see a young pitcher delivering on the mound. Brieske — a 27th-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft — finally got his shot in the big leagues. So far he’s performing.

With his fifth quality start in 14 outings, the Tigers are hopeful that Brieske can continue to grow and improve his game. And if he can, the rookie can be a building block for the starting rotation in the future — a rotation that already features some young names.

“He’s made a lot of good starts, keeping us in games, pitching well, facing new lineups and new stressful situations,” Hinch said. “This is all a learning curve for him, and he’s responding very well, both mentally and physically.”

Tarik Skubal — who was off to a dominant start in 2022, with a 2.15 ERA through 10 starts — showcased his potential early in the year, and figures to be one of the team’s top pitchers in the coming years.

Casey Mize is also expected to be at the top of the Tigers’ rotation. Mize, the first overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, has shown what he’s capable of through 39 career starts. Last season, he owned a 3.71 ERA with 118 strikeouts.

The Tigers hope Brieske can join that mix — a young pitcher looking to help Detroit in the future.

“That’s a good step,” Brieske said. “I can take some good things away from it and get back to work and get ready for my next start.”

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