MLB: Tigers hope luck is on Reese Olson’s side vs. Jays

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Reese Olson could certainly make a case for best winless pitcher in the majors this season.

The Detroit Tigers right-hander carries a sparkling 2.16 ERA and 1.06 WHIP into the third game of a four-game home series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. Yet, Olson is also saddled with an 0-5 record.

Olson has given up two or fewer earned runs in all but one of his nine starts. The Tigers have gone winless in his past eight starts while scoring a total of 15 runs.

Olson’s last start was abbreviated and continued his string of bad luck. During the third inning against Kansas City, Michael Massey lined a pitch off his right hip. Olson “blacked out” as the ball ricocheted off him.

He actually didn’t lose consciousness but after throwing two warmup pitches, he was removed from the contest.

“The two throws I made just felt a little unstable on my back leg,” Olson said. “We decided to be done so it doesn’t lead to anything else.”

Fortunately for Olson, it was just a contusion. He threw a bullpen session on Thursday without incident and was deemed healthy enough not to miss a start.

Jose Berrios (5-3, 2.98), Olson’s mound opponent, has delivered eight quality starts this season. In his last outing on Monday, he gave up three runs and eight hits while striking out six in six-plus innings. Berrios was credited with the win for the first time in five starts.

“We’ve had numerous talks last season and this season about him becoming a leader. That shows,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “He portrays that on the mound right now. … He’s taken a step forward, not just in pitching and executing, but he feels like he’s one of the guys and that shows.”

Berrios has pitched quite a bit against Detroit in his career. He’s faced the Tigers 14 times, including 13 starts, posting a 7-2 record and 4.48 ERA. Olson is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two relief innings against the Blue Jays.

The teams have split the first two games of the four-game series. Detroit snapped a five-game losing streak on Friday night with a 6-2 victory.

Tigers rookie Colt Keith hit his first career homer in his 44th game. He had two hits and drove in two runs.

“I don’t know how much he was carrying around for a couple of months but it felt like it came off as soon as the ball left the yard,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said.

Keith’s batting average was .152 on May 5. He’s raised it to .236.

“Progressively over the last few weeks, you’ve just seen him take a few more early-count strikes and balls,” Hinch said. “You’ve seen him battle with two strikes and get rewarded with some good hits. Today, he got a changeup to the pull side and hits the homer.”

Detroit had a three-run fourth inning, aided by a collision between Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier that allowed a run to score.

“It’s very rare for those guys to miscommunicate,” Schneider said. “It’s the best outfield in Major League Baseball.”

–Field Level Media

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