The Detroit Tigers will go for a three-game series sweep of the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday in Phoenix.
To get it, Detroit will have to defeat a former Cy Young Award winner.
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel, released by the Chicago White Sox last month after he posted a 2-5 record and a 7.88 ERÅ, will make his first start for Arizona and will be opposed by rookie right-hander Beau Brieske (1-6, 4.07), who attended nearby Perry High School in Gilbert, Ariz.
Keuchel, 34, signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks on June 6 and will reunite with pitching coach Brent Strom, who tutored him in 2015 when he won the American League Cy Young Award with the Houston Astros with a 20-8 record and 2.48 ERA.
Keuchel is 5-4 with a 4.79 ERA in 14 career games (12 starts) against the Tigers. His most recent major league start came on May 26 when he allowed six runs on seven hits in a 16-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He allowed 28 earned runs and six homers in just 32 innings this season for the White Sox.
Arizona lost its fifth straight game on Saturday, 6-3 to the Tigers, and has dropped 14 of its past 20 games.
“Look, these are some grind times here right now,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s not anything you ever expect. I know that we’ve lost a few games in a row, but we’ve got one direction to go in, and that’s to continue fighting and coming out here tomorrow and getting this thing to turn around.”
Arizona managed just five hits, including a two-run homer by David Peralta, and committed two errors in Saturday night’s loss. Ace reliever Joe Mantiply was tagged for a three-run homer by rookie Kody Clemens to break a 3-3 tie in the sixth.
“We budget for tough times,” Lovullo said. “We are in a grinding moment right now. I want these guys to absorb what happened today, understand why it happened and come out here tomorrow and execute and get it done. That’s all we can do.”
Saturday marked just the 10th road victory in 31 away games for Detroit. It was punctuated by a brilliant full-extension diving catch by rookie center fielder Riley Greene on a slicing liner into the right-center gap by Buddy Kennedy and the first major league homer by Clemens, the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.
“Surreal,” Clemens said when asked how the moment felt. “He threw me a couple of good pitches there. I fouled one off and then he threw the same slider again just a little bit inside, and I got a good swing on it, and it went out of the park and I was pumped. It was sick.”
Clemens’ liner into the right-field bleachers was the first home run allowed by Mantiply since June 18, 2021, and also the first he’s ever allowed to a left-handed batter.
“My mom’s here, so she’ll probably give me a big hug,” Clemens said. “I’m sure my dad’s super-pumped. My family will be texting me for sure.”
–Field Level Media