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Tigers starter Olson stifles Blue Jays to earn first victory of season

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News on

Published in Baseball

Detroit – Reese Olson walked off the mound to a roaring standing ovation in the seventh inning Saturday. And, for a change, he walked off with a lead.

Kerry Carpenter got him two runs with his eighth homer of the season in the first inning and the Tigers’ right-hander made that skinny lead hold up into the seventh.

But, as Olson was climbing over 90 pitches, he got into trouble. A walk to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and an error by first baseman Mark Canha and suddenly manager AJ Hinch was hopping out of the dugout.

Kiner-Falefa would score the unearned run on a double by Davis Schneider off reliever Alex Faedo, but Olson had lowered his ERA to 1.92 and was in line for his first pitcher win since Sept. 20.

And, with Jason Foley pitching a scoreless eighth and lefty Tyler Holton pitching around a one-out double in the ninth to earn his first save, the Tigers got him that win, beating the Blue Jays 2-1 before a lively crowd of 35,321 at Comerica Park.

Olson's ovation was well-earned.

 

The Blue Jays’ plan was to exploit Olson’s reverse splits. Right-handed hitters have done most of the damage against him this year (.296/.322/.370) so Toronto manager John Schneider stacked eight straight right-handed batters against him.

The plan had merit, especially with righties bashing Olson’s sinker at a .362 clip coming into the game.

But Olson was unfazed. He came out attacking with four-seam, sinker and slider just like he always does. The only alteration he made for the flotilla of righties was to mix more changeups, a pitch generally used against left-handed hitters.

He was efficient and he was effective. He allowed just one hit – a triple to the only lefty in the lineup (Kevin Kiermaier) through four innings. With Kiermaier on third with one out in the third, Olson struck out Davis Schneider and got Justin Turner – both with changeups.

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