Tigers waste Olson's gem, drop 1-0 decision to Marlins in 10 innings

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Reese Olson isn't going there. He isn't going to complain about the run support, or lack of it, in his starts.

Despite several attempts to draw him out on the subject, he stayed true to his own narrative.

"Eight scoreless innings," he said. "Any time you put up zeros like that, I'm going to feel good about it. I just focus on throwing strikes and and being competitive in the zone. Our guys have been scoring runs. I believe in them."

Olson and Marlins’ lefty Ryan Weathers put on an impressive display of pitching Tuesday night. They both hung zeros for eight innings before turning it over to their respective bullpens. And in the end, the Tigers never scored.

The Marlins won it in the 10th, scoring the free runner on a ground ball by Jesus Sanchez and evening the series at Comerica Park, 1-0.

"Reese is awesome," said left fielder Mark Canha. "He's the MVP of this game if we squeaked it out. He's been great, a lot of fun to watch. Obviously, he's doing a lot of things really well. We're lucky to have have him."

The fact is, Olson, who lowered his ERA to 2.09, has allowed two runs or less in seven of his eight starts this season. But he's gotten a total of nine runs of offensive support. According to research done by MLB.com, Olson is just the third pitcher in 50 years to go at least five innings six times in a season allowing one earned run or less without getting a win.

The other two were Justin Verlander in 2016 and Frank Tanana in 1989.

"I don't pay a ton of attention to the unluckiness of that," manager AJ Hinch said. "He's doing his part. They don't have a runs per game stat for a starting pitcher that we pay attention to. He's had tough luck, but that doesn't mean he's hasn't done a really good job.

"He hasn't complained about anything, nor should he. He's got one job at night and I'm proud of how he's pitching."

Tigers pitcher Reese Olson delivers a pitch in the first inning. Detroit Tigers vs Miami Marlins at Comerica Park in Detroit on May 14, 2024.

Weathers overpowered a right-handed heavy Tigers lineup with power four-seamers (96 mph) and mixing in changeups and sweepers. They didn’t have a base runner until Wenceel Perez led off the sixth with a single to right field. They mustered just three singles, two by Perez, in eight innings.

"He had a good night, obviously," Canha said. "Something about him is deceptive and he was living on the edges and not making many mistakes in the middle. It makes it tough."

Tigers' hitters kept beating balls into the dirt — 13 ground ball outs.

"It wasn't the right result but it was the right approach," Hinch said. "We wanted to be aggressive against his fastball but we couldn't elevate. We miss-hit a lot of balls down on the ground. It was a well-pitched game on both sides. A little bit of a throwback game where each starting pitcher was just dealing."

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For the Tigers (21-21) it was their MLB-most 17th one-run game. They are 8-9 in those games, losing five of them since April 30.

"It's the difference, I think, between the first 20 games and the last 20 games," Canha said. "We were winning all these (close) games and then we just can't find a way to squeak these out here in the last few weeks. We're starting to click. You're starting to see some guys coming around.

"It makes me feel optimistic."

Tigers designated hitter Riley Greene grounds into a force out in the seventh inning. Detroit Tigers vs Miami Marlins at Comerica Park in Detroit on May 14, 2024.

Olson was expertly mixing all five of his pitches, leaning hard on his slider that he was spinning up to 3,000 rpms. He scattered three singles, didn’t walk any one and had six strikeouts. He, too, was making hitters bash balls in the dirt — 10 ground ball outs.

"I was in the zone for the most part," Olson said. "All my shapes felt really good. When I am able to land all five like that, I feel pretty good about what I can do."

It was the first time in his young career he completed eight innings.

"He's got so many weapons to go to," Hinch said. "You can fall in love with any one of them individually. But collectively, when they come together, it's fun to watch him pitch. He can disrupt timing. He gets funky swings. He gets funky takes. And it looks like he's in complete control. He was awesome."

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He's been awesome all season.

He’s allowed two earned runs or less and just nine hits (all singles) in his last four starts covering 26 innings. He’s faced 189 batters and allowed just six extra base hits all year. He hasn’t allowed a home run 53 innings, 214 batters, dating to last September.

Not bad for a pitcher with no wins.