Detroit Tigers' Spencer Torkelson hits first home run in 8-4 loss to St. Louis Cardinals

JUPITER, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-4, on Saturday at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

The Tigers are 12-11 in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

First baseman Spencer Torkelson, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, has been crushing baseballs throughout spring training. His exit velocities are excellent, and he recently started getting rewarded for them with extra-base hits.

On Saturday, Torkelson was rewarded with an opposite-field solo home run in the fifth inning.

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Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) catches the ball against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, on Friday, March 10, 2023.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) catches the ball against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, on Friday, March 10, 2023.

The 23-year-old, in a full count, got a sixth-pitch fastball inside the strike zone from Cardinals left-hander Matthew Liberatore. Torkelson hit the ball 359 feet to rightwith a 98.4 mph exit velocity.

It was his first homer in spring training.

Starting off

Left-hander Matthew Boyd, making his fourth start in spring training, allowed three runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts across four innings. The Cardinals, loaded with right-handed hitters, tagged him for all three runs in the second inning.

Boyd threw 44 of 63 pitches for strikes, then tossed extra pitches in the bullpen following his outing. He was scheduled for 65 pitches in the game.

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Boyd needed eight pitches for three batters in the first inning, 33 pitches for eight batters in the second, eight pitches for three batters in the third and 14 pitches for three batters in the fourth.

In the second, Willson Contreras drilled Boyd's changeup below the strike zone for a double to center. Alec Burleson drove him in with a single, putting the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, on a first-pitch sinker.

Taylor Motter, who fell behind 0-2 in the count, turned on a high-and-tight fastball. He sent the ball over the left-field wall for a two-run home run, increasing the Cardinals' lead to 3-0.

After Motter's homer, Boyd gave up two singles and one walk to the next five batters, but he avoided further damage with a pair of strikeouts and a pickoff. He struck out Dylan Carlson swinging with a nasty slider to complete the inning.

Boyd generated seven whiffs with one four-seam fastball, one slider, four changeups and one curveball.

At the plate

The Tigers' offense ended the inning with ground-ball double plays in the first, second and fourth. Third baseman Andy Ibáñez, who returned to the lineup from a left finger sprain for his first game since March 1, hit into two of them.

Ibáñez finished 0-for-3 with one strikeout.

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Along with Torkelson, the Tigers received hits from Kerry Carpenter, Eric Haase, César Hernández, Ryan Kreidler, Michael Papierski and Zack Short before the eighth inning. After Torkelson's home run in the fifth, Haase ripped a double to left field but failed to score as the next three batters were retired: Hernández (groundout), Jermaine Palacios (strikeout and Carpenter (strikeout).

Both Torkelson and Haase collected two hits.

In the seventh, Hernández jumped all over a fastball down the middle for an RBI double to right field. The 32-year-old, who has seven doubles this spring, and is hitting .313 with four walks and eight strikeouts in 13 games.

Then, Carpenter cut the Tigers' deficit to 5-4 with an ensuing RBI single.

Papierski added a double to open the ninth.

On the mound

Right-hander Beau Brieske, competing for a role in the Opening Day bullpen, pitched the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and one walk with two strikeouts, throwing 25 of 35 pitches for strikes.

Left-hander Tyler Alexander gave up three runs in the seventh inning. Carlson hit a two-run home run off an elevated 88 mph four-seam fastball, and Burleson tossed in an RBI double.

Those runs extended the Cardinals' lead to 8-4.

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Right-hander Kervin Castro tossed a scoreless eighth inning.

He struck out two batters.

Three stars

1. Torkelson; 2. Haase; 3. Boyd.

Next up

Sunday (1:05 p.m.) vs. Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Spencer Torkelson goes deep as Detroit Tigers go down, 8-4 to Cards