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Detroit Tigers’ 4-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics attributed to offensive struggles, not Kenta Maeda.

Kenta Maeda was greeted with cheers as he made his way to the dugout.

Initially, there were boos in the atmosphere when Maeda allowed a two-run home run to Brent Rooker in the first inning. However, after persevering through to the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics, Maeda received the applause he deserved from the fans at Comerica Park.

Speaking in Japanese, which was interpreted by Dai Sekizaki, Maeda expressed, “It was truly enjoyable pitching at Comerica. While it would have been preferable to secure a team win, nonetheless, it was a satisfying day.”

Despite Maeda’s efforts, the Detroit Tigers ultimately suffered a 4-0 defeat to the Athletics.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenta Maeda (18) walks off the field after pitching the first inning against Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park in Detroit on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

Maeda, who recently inked a two-year, $24 million deal in the offseason and debuted at home as a member of the Tigers in Saturday’s match, couldn’t see through the sixth inning and was charged with three runs. However, his performance wasn’t the determining factor in the Tigers’ (6-2) inability to triumph over the A’s in the second game of their three-game series.

The fault lies with the lackluster offense.

“We failed to consistently apply pressure on them throughout the game,” remarked manager A.J. Hinch. “We managed a double and a walk, and that was about it. By the eighth inning, it’s quite late to mount any significant offense, particularly with their lead widening. Overall, it wasn’t a stellar day for us offensively.”

Oakland Athletics pitcher Paul Blackburn (58) throws against Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park in Detroit on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

Right-handed pitcher Paul Blackburn delivered six scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and issuing zero walks while recording four strikeouts.

He showcased a diverse arsenal of non-fastball pitches.

Manager Hinch commented, “He keeps hitters off balance with his assortment of pitches.”

Twice during the game, the Tigers had a runner in scoring position with two outs, both times with Riley Greene at bat. However, on each occasion, Greene grounded out to the right side of the infield, thwarting the scoring opportunity.

In the first inning, Kerry Carpenter smashed a double to center field. The hit traveled 409 feet, which would have been a home run in 22 out of 30 MLB stadiums, but not at Comerica Park. In the sixth inning, Parker Meadows led off with a single, followed by Spencer Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter striking out swinging. Meadows then seized the opportunity to steal second base, marking his first stolen base of the season.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenta Maeda (18) walks off the field after pitching the first inning against Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park in Detroit on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

Torkelson swung at a down-and-away slider, while Carpenter missed an elevated fastball. Nonetheless, Greene’s ground ball in the sixth inning left Meadows stranded, mirroring Carpenter’s fate in the first.

Reflecting on Blackburn’s performance, Torkelson remarked, “He maintained a soft approach throughout. He consistently avoided the heart of the plate. Even with his softer pitches, if they had been more centrally located, we could have capitalized more. It should have been a day where we aimed to chip away, wear him down, and force him out earlier to reach their bullpen.”

In the eighth inning, facing right-handed reliever Mason Miller, Carson Kelly connected with a 101 mph fastball, driving it into the right-field corner. Torkelson drew a two-out walk, this time opting not to swing at down-and-away pitches, extending the inning. However, Carpenter’s groundout to the right side of the infield ended the scoring opportunity.

The Tigers concluded the game 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Kenta Maeda faced a tough battle.

In his initial start of the season against the Chicago White Sox, Maeda encountered difficulties. Unfortunately, his second start began poorly, with Rooker hitting a slider that moved horizontally but lingered in the upper part of the strike zone, resulting in a two-run home run in the first inning.

The homer traveled 409 feet to left field.

“The first inning was a struggle, carrying over from my last outing with issues in mechanics and other aspects,” Maeda explained. “However, I managed to adjust and attack the hitters effectively from the second inning onwards, which was crucial for my performance. … The longer a starter can pitch innings, the better our chances of winning.”

Oakland Athletics designated hitter Brent Rooker (25) celebrates after hitting a 2-run home run against Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park in Detroit on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

The struggles in the opening inning commenced with a one-out walk, and control issues persisted throughout Maeda’s performance. He issued four walks: one in each of the first, third, fourth, and sixth innings.

However, Maeda managed to mitigate the damage.

“It all hinges on his fastball,” remarked Hinch, “and his capacity to complement it with his secondary pitches as his fastball improves.”

In the sixth inning, Maeda walked leadoff batter Zack Gelof on six pitches. Nevertheless, he rebounded by retiring JJ Bleday (pop out) and Brent Rooker (groundout) before being relieved by left-handed pitcher Joey Wentz.

Wentz promptly surrendered an RBI single to Seth Brown on a middle-middle fastball, only his second pitch. Even though Wentz conceded the hit, extending the Athletics’ lead to 3-0, the run was charged to Maeda due to his earlier walk that initiated the inning.

Maeda, who threw 47 of his 87 pitches for strikes, recorded an average fastball velocity of 89.2 mph, a decrease from 91 mph last season. Additionally, he induced only four swings and misses on 15 attempts against his splitter, resulting in a 26.7% whiff rate, down from 35% last season. He yielded three runs on two hits and four walks while striking out three batters in 5⅔ innings.

Notably, Maeda’s slider proved to be his least effective pitch against the Athletics.

“The slider still requires refinement,” Maeda noted. “There’s room for improvement.”

The same scenario unfolded for Wentz in the eighth inning, mirroring Maeda’s earlier struggles. Wentz walked Gelof to kick off the inning, who then proceeded to steal second base. Despite striking out Bleday, Wentz was replaced by right-handed reliever Will Vest.

Vest promptly allowed an RBI single to Rooker on a middle-in slider, just his third pitch. The run, however, was charged to Wentz. Vest managed to escape further trouble in the eighth inning and successfully navigated through the ninth inning.

However, the offense failed to produce any runs.

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