Detroit Tigers' Casey Mize tosses 3 perfect innings, pulled by plan in 4-1 win vs. Reds

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CINCINNATI — Detroit Tigers rookie Casey Mize walked down the dugout steps and received a handshake from manager AJ Hinch.

The 24-year-old had a perfect game through three innings, but his manager didn't let him return to the mound for the fourth. Just as he was in early July, Mize is back to a limited workload — no more than roughly three innings — for the remainder of the 2021 season. The Tigers want to protect the health of his prized right arm during his first full MLB season.

Mize should finish the year somewhere around 150 innings.

Even without their best pitcher, the Tigers beat the Cincinnati Reds for a 4-1 victory in Sunday's series finale at Great American Ball Park. Mize now has a 3.51 ERA, 39 walks and 106 strikeouts over 138⅓ innings.

Winning two of three games in series, the Tigers (65-73) are 56-49 since May 8 and 25-22 since the All-Star Break.

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize (12) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Great American Ball Park on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize (12) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Great American Ball Park on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021.

The three perfect innings began with a sharp first frame, inducing groundouts against Jonathan India, Tyler Naquin and Nick Castellanos. Of his seven pitches, all of them went for strikes. He recorded three groundouts, four flyouts and two strikeouts for his nine outs.

In the second, Mize retired Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas and Kyle Farmer on 17 pitches. He struck out Moustakas with a slider to win an eight-pitch battle over the 11-year MLB veteran. Mize then tossed 10 pitches for the third frame, sending down Tucker Barnhart, Max Schrock and Luis Castillo.

Mize struck out Castillo — Cincinnati's starting pitcher — to conclude his outing. For his 26th start this season and the 33rd of his big-league career, he tossed 27 of 34 pitches for strikes and produced a pair of strikeouts.

Clutch Candelario

Stuck in a scoreless game, the Tigers threatened Castillo for the first time in the sixth inning. Akil Baddoo led off with a double to left field, and although Jonathan Schoop lined out, Robbie Grossman took advantage of a defensive mistake.

A fielding error by Votto at first base put runners on the corners. Grossman stole second base, giving him 16 steals this season to go with 21 home runs, to advance two runners into scoring position for Jeimer Candelario.

And Candelario delivered.

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Detroit Tigers' Jeimer Candelario, right, leaps in the air after scoring on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Eric Haase, as Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, center, looks for the call from home plate umpire Dan Iassogna during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati.
Detroit Tigers' Jeimer Candelario, right, leaps in the air after scoring on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Eric Haase, as Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, center, looks for the call from home plate umpire Dan Iassogna during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati.

After Castillo missed the strike zone with a first-pitch fastball, he went to four consecutive changeups. Candelario ripped his 3-1 changeup to the right-field corner for a triple, scoring Baddoo and Grossman for a 2-0 lead.

Candelario is hitting .280 with three triples and an MLB-leading 39 doubles over 128 games this season.

He scored for a 3-0 lead on Eric Haase's sacrifice fly, which was lined to Castellanos in right field. Despite a late tag at third base, Candelario slid in ahead of Castellanos' throw home.

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Castillo allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out seven batters and fired 91 pitches.

Baddoo's speed put the Tigers up 4-0 in the eighth inning. He scored from first base on Schoop's hit-and-run single to center field. Third base coach Ramon Santiago checked to see how Naquin would field the ball in center field before giving Baddoo the green light by waving his arm.

Bullpen takes over

As Hinch shook Mize's hand, righty reliever Jose Urena — used as a starter earlier in the season — stood up in the right-field bullpen.

Urena posted a solid 2⅔ scoreless innings to get the Tigers through two outs in the sixth inning, when high-leverage reliever Michael Fulmer took over. He avoided damage in the fourth (two singles), fifth (two singles) and sixth (one single).

Striking out one batter, Urena threw 33 of 46 pitches for strikes.

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Cincinnati Reds baserunner Mike Moustakas (9) becomes entangled with Detroit Tigers shortstop Willi Castro, rear, after being forced out at second base on a fielder's choice off the bat of Reds' Kyle Farmer during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Reds baserunner Mike Moustakas (9) becomes entangled with Detroit Tigers shortstop Willi Castro, rear, after being forced out at second base on a fielder's choice off the bat of Reds' Kyle Farmer during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati.

Fulmer completed the sixth with five pitches, getting Votto to groundout to second base.

During his perfect seventh inning, Fulmer tossed three curveballs. (Entering Sunday, he had only thrown 17 curveballs this season.) Two of them went for swings and misses against Farmer, one of which produced a swinging strikeout.

Jose Cisnero put runners on the corners with one out in the eighth, so Hinch replaced him with lefty closer Gregory Soto. A wild pitch plated Schrock for Cincinnati's first run, and pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera drew a walk to bring Castellanos — the game-tying run — to the plate.

Castellanos struck out at a slider for the second out. Votto also struck out swinging at a slider, stranding two runners and ending the eighth.

Throwing 24 total pitches, Soto fired a perfect ninth for his 18th save.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Casey Mize perfect for 3, pulled by plan in 4-1 win