Detroit Tigers observations: Offense slumbers again in Lucas Giolito gem, 9-0 loss

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire wants consistency from his offense. He desires a starting rotation with the ability to pitch into the second half of games.

Lately, he hasn't received either.

"Scoring some runs takes the pressure off the pitching," Gardenhire said before Thursday's game. "(That) would really help right now."

Right-hander Spencer Turnbull didn't have his best stuff Thursday against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in a 9-0 loss — the Tigers' ninth in a row, dropping them to 9-14 record with 37 games remaining this season.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull delivers against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field, Aug. 20, 2020.

Reliever Joe Jimenez gave up four runs in the eighth inning on a two-RBI double to Jose Abreu and a two-run homer on his first pitch to Eloy Jimenez.

For subscribers: Casey Mize showed us something significant in his Detroit Tigers debut

Detroit travels to Cleveland for a three-game series against the Indians, who have a 20-game winning streak against the Tigers. Gardenhire plans to pitch right-hander Michael Fulmer on Friday, left-hander Matthew Boyd on Saturday and lefty Tarik Skubal on Sunday.

Skubal's outing will be the second of his MLB career after debuting Tuesday in a 10-4 loss to the White Sox.

[ Here's how we graded Casey Mize's Detroit Tigers debut ]

Turnbull activates bullpen

Gardenhire's most reliable pitcher this season has been Turnbull, who entered Thursday with three of his four outings going at least five innings and his 2.78 ERA pacing the rotation. His only non-five-inning appearance was a 4⅔-inning performance Saturday against the Indians, and he remains the only Tiger to make it seven innings.

Turnbull needed 37 of his 60 pitches Thursday to get through the first inning, when he gave up three runs. He walked in a run by missing on a 95 mph fastball to Edwin Encarnacion in a five-pitch at-bat, followed by Nomar Mazara's RBI groundout and James McCann's RBI single.

Although he didn't give up a run in the second, Turnbull threw 23 pitches, thanks to hittting Tim Anderson and walking Yoan Moncada. All together, Turnbull gave up three runs on two hits and four walks and didn't record a strikeout.

Gardenhire switched to left-hander Tyler Alexander out of the bullpen to open the third.

Detroit Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop catches a fly ball vs. the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field, Aug. 20, 2020.

Missed chances

The Tigers finally got right-hander Lucas Giolito to stumble in the top of the fourth inning with consecutive singles from Jeimer Candelario and JaCoby Jones. After a Miguel Cabrera strikeout, Jonathan Schoop loaded the bases with another single.

But Niko Goodrum and Christin Stewart both struck out, ending the inning. In the fifth, Austin Romine moved up to second on a wild pitch, but Willi Castro and Candelario failed to drive him in with a groundout and fly out, respectively.

The Tigers finished with six baserunners, five via hits. 

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito throws against Detroit Tigers batter Austin Romine during the third inning Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Chicago.

Giolito's groove

The 26-year-old walked off the field with a smile — and 13 strikeouts — after the top of the seventh inning.

He only allowed three hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings. His 110 pitches included 17 called strikes, 21 whiffs and 21 foul balls. He mixed his fastball (57 pitches), changeup (40) and slider (13) effectively.

As the game continued, he went down in the zone with his changeup and found continued success. 

Giolito had allowed 15 earned runs and 15 walks in 20⅔ innings entering the game, but lowered his ERA to 3.89 with a dominant performance against the Tigers.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content