AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Almost a full slate of games on this Monday night. The only teams off are the Phillies and Nationals, who start a three-game series in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, and the Brewers and Cubs, who also open a three-game set in Chicago on Tuesday.

The Diamondbacks played a crazy 13-inning game with the Pirates on Sunday night. They lost 12-10 in 13 innings, but fought valiantly with two runs in the eighth and ninth innings to send the game to extras. Then, when the Pirates scored twice in the top of the 12th, the D-Backs responded with two runs of their own. They ended up using 10 pitchers: eight to pitch, one to pinch-hit (Zack Greinke), and one to pinch-run and play left field (Shelby Miller). Starter Robbie Ray lasted only three innings, forcing the bullpen to cover 10 innings. One wonders if the D-Backs’ bullpen will be running on empty during Monday night’s series opener at home against the Cardinals, starting at 9:40 PM EST.

A strong seven-plus-inning outing from Greinke would go a long way. He has turned things around in his last two starts after allowing 11 runs in 10 innings in his first two starts as a Diamondback after signing a six-year, $206.5 million contract in December. He pitched into the eighth inning against the Padres on April 15, then limited the Giants to a lone run in 6 2/3 innings last Wednesday.

The Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia, who is having a great season, out to the mound. He’s 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA and a 26/8 K/BB ratio over 20 innings. One of those starts included a complete game one-hit shutout, with 13 strikeouts, against the Brewers on April 14. When Garcia is healthy — which isn’t often — he’s one of the best starters in the game. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old lefty hasn’t been able to accrue more than 20 starts in a season since 2011.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman), 7:07 PM EST

Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer), 7:10 PM EST

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran), 7:10 PM EST

Cincinnati Reds (Raisel Iglesias) @ New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard), 7:10 PM EST

Oakland Athletics (Kendall Graveman) @ Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann), 7:10 PM EST

New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi) @ Texas Rangers (Cesar Ramos), 8:05 PM EST

Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar) @ Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone), 8:10 PM EST

Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke) @ Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis), 8:40 PM EST

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ Los Angeles Angels (Garrett Richards), 10:05 PM EST

Houston Astros (Doug Fister) @ Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker), 10:10 PM EST

Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EST

San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz) @ San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner), 10:15 PM EST

Tigers manager Gardenhire announces immediate retirement

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
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DETROIT — Ron Gardenhire mostly maintained his jovial demeanor this season. As recently as Friday night, he was needling a reporter while discussing a strategic decision from the late innings.

Less than 24 hours later, Gardenhire announced his retirement. This year was taking more of a toll on the 62-year-old Detroit Tigers manager than he’d necessarily let on.

As much as he enjoyed managing, Gardenhire valued his health more.

“It’s been wonderful here, but I also know I have to take care of myself,” said Gardenhire, who was nearing the end of his third season with the Tigers. “When you come to the ballpark, and you’re stressed out all day, and your hands are shaking, that’s not fun. I’ve got grandbabies, I’ve got kids that I need to take care of, and my wife.”

Gardenhire’s announcement came in an abruptly scheduled video conference about an hour before Saturday night’s game against Cleveland. General manager Al Avila said he made a routine visit to Gardenhire’s office Saturday, when the manager told him about the decision.

Gardenhire, who has battled cancer and diabetes, recently missed a couple games because of stomach issues.

“This is tough. It’s a tough day for me. Didn’t expect it, tell you the truth, when I walked in,” Gardenhire said. “But I just know how I’ve been feeling lately, and I expressed that to Al, and elected to just go ahead and step down.”

A message of “Thank you, Gardy” was posted on the scoreboard at Comerica Park.

“On behalf of all of us with the Detroit Tigers, congratulations to Ron Gardenhire on a tremendous managerial career,” Tigers CEO Christopher Ilitch said in a statement. “One of the best baseball men around, we’re fortunate to have had Gardy lead our team for the past three seasons, and during this rebuilding period. He has done a great job in shaping the future successes I know our organization will see.”

Bench coach Lloyd McClendon is taking over as manager for the rest of the season, which is scheduled to end Sept. 27. Detroit was 21-29 heading into Saturday’s game and was unlikely to make the postseason.

Gardenhire previously had a 13-year run with the Minnesota Twins that included six AL Central titles.

“I’d like to congratulate Gardy on one of the best managerial careers, really in major league baseball history,” Avila said. “His leadership and hard work over the last three seasons has put us in a position to get closer to our goal of bringing back winning baseball to Detroit.”

Gardenhire had to oversee a significant rebuild with the Tigers that included a 114-loss season in 2019.

“He took us through the toughest two years of the transition. This year, this third season, probably as tough as any, just because of the pandemic,” Avila said. “The COVID-19 over your head, all the new changes … the stress level was through the roof.”

Gardenhire’s surprise retirement came as the Indians were getting ready to play their 38th game without their manager, Terry Francona, who has been sidelined after undergoing surgery for a gastrointestinal issue and some blood clotting complications which followed the procedure.

The 61-year-old Francona, who is in his eighth year with Cleveland, still hopes to return before this season ends.

Whoever takes over the Detroit managerial job will be tasked with guiding the team through an important stage in its process. Pitching prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal had a chance to get some experience in the majors this year, and other young players will be crucial over the next couple seasons.

Gardenhire took over for longtime Twins manager Tom Kelly and managed Minnesota from 2002-14, going 1,068-1,039. Minnesota won the division six times in his first nine seasons at the helm, and he was American League Manager of the Year in 2010.

He was a bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks before returning to the AL Central with the Tigers for the 2018 season. Detroit was 132-241 under Gardenhire.

Gardenhire played five seasons in the majors, all with the New York Mets, and was a light-hitting infielder in the 1980s.

“Always, you’ll miss baseball,” Gardenhire said. “You miss the game, but you miss the people in it, the coaches, the staff here. Those are the tough things, but I’m only a phone call away. … I won’t just go away totally. This is just a moment, I know I have to take care of myself right now and get myself back to where I need to be.

“I appreciate baseball for everything they’ve given me and my family, and it’s been a good career.”