Tigers shut down by Spencer Schwellenbach in 2-1 loss to Braves

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News on

Published in Baseball

ATLANTA — It was just four years ago that Spencer Schwellenbach was a slick, hard-hitting shortstop at the University of Nebraska. During the pandemic year, he tore up the Northwoods Summer League in Michigan hitting .356 playing for Traverse City.

But he had a lot of time on his hands, so he decided to teach himself how to pitch.

And there he was Tuesday night, with a pack of family and friends looking on from his hometown Saginaw, Mich., throwing six stingy innings and earning his first big-league win in the Atlanta Braves 2-1 win at Truist Park.

The only smudge on his night came in the sixth inning. Riley Greene led off with a triple and scored on a single by Gio Urshela. The Detroit Tigers only mustered one other hit off Schwellenbach, who walked two and hit two with seven strikeouts.

He threw five pitches, letting his 95-mph four-seam, cutter and slider do most of the work. He ended up getting 18 whiffs, seven on 17 swings with his cutter.

The Tigers didn’t hit many balls hard off him, either — 14 balls in play, 85-mph average exit velocity.

They didn't get a runner into scoring position against three Braves relievers — Pierce Johnson, Joe Jimenez and closer Raisel Iglesias.

The Tigers scored 13 runs in one game in Houston. In the four other games on this 1-4 road trip, they’ve managed just three.

The Braves scored twice three batters into the game against Tigers’ starter Casey Mize. But there was one at-bat that defined his outing.

It was a 13-pitch conflict with Braves Ozzie Albies with two runners on and two outs in the second inning.

With the count full, and the runners moving on every pitch, Albies fouled off seven straight pitches — slider, slider, 98-mph fastball, 97-mph fastball, slider, slider, 97.5-mph fastball. And it seemed like he was on each and every pitch.

Mize never gave an inch. On the 13th pitch, Mize won the battle getting Albies to fly to center on a 98-mph fastball.


The labor was real. It ended up being a 31-pitch second inning, which is why Mize’s night was over after four innings. But the compete level was off the charts.

He never let the train come off the track, especially in the bumpy first two innings. Jarred Kelenic led off the bottom of the first with a two-strike single. Albies followed with a 2-2 triple and scored on Marcell Ozuna’s sacrifice fly on an 0-2 pitch.

And the second inning started with an error on third baseman Gio Urshela and a bunt single by Forrest Wall.

But Mize didn’t crack. His fastball was as firm as it’s been all season. He threw 31 four-seamers with an average velocity of 97 mph, 2 mph harder than his season average.

He got 11 swings and misses, which is more than he got in his previous three starts combined. He leaned heavily on his slider (30 of them). Only one was put in play.

Mize allowed just two more singles after the first inning and ended the fourth by inducing a 6-4-3 double-play out of Orlando Arcia.

He was 87 pitches and done, leaving his team still in the fight, down 2-0.

The Tigers bullpen kept it right there, dispatching 12 straight Braves hitters. Beau Brieske set down seven straight hitters, Andrew Chafin three straight and Will Vest the last two.

Impressive work.


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