Detroit Tigers storm back for 10-8 win over Twins, snap losing skid
Detroit Tigers catcher Grayson Greiner had five hits in 40 at-bats this season entering his eighth-inning duel with Minnesota Twins reliever Sergio Romo. He worked a six-pitch battle, ending in a slider launched 355 feet in the air.
It was just enough to clear the left-field wall for his third homer and, more importantly, the go-ahead run in a furious late-inning comeback Sunday at Target Field.
The Tigers trailed 6-2 at the conclusion of the fifth inning but stormed back with three runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and three more in the eighth en route to a 10-8 victory against the Twins (25-17) to end a four-game skid.
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The Tigers (18-20) are two games back of the New York Yankees for the AL’s eighth and final spot in the expanded 16-team postseason.
Detroit is slated to start right-hander Michael Fulmer in Monday’s series finale.
[ Why Tigers reliever Joe Jimenez is angry with Twins’ Miguel Sano: ‘He was wrong’ ]
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Before the comeback began, rookie right-hander Casey Mize sat alone in the dugout.
He had a hard time putting hitters away and many of the at-bats against him went into deep counts. He gave up three earned runs in four-plus innings, but a first-pitch double from Jorge Polanco in the fifth inning ended his day.
Of his 83 pitches, Mize threw 17 splitters, his signature offering, without generating a swinging strike. He only got seven whiffs – four with his cutter and three with his fastball. His used 27% sliders, 20% splitters, 20% fastballs, 19% two-seam fastballs and 13% curveballs. His four-seamer maxed out at 96.1 mph and averaged 93.2 mph.
Through four winless MLB starts, Mize has allowed 11 earned runs with 16 strikeouts and six walks in 14⅔ innings.
Entering Sunday, the last Tiger to hit a home run in his first MLB at-bat was left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris in a matchup against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 19, 2015. But the last position player? That was Reggie Sanders in a clash with the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 1, 1974.
Besides Norris and Sanders, only five others in Tigers history homered in their first career at-bats: Gene Lamont (1970), Bill Roman (1964), Gates Brown (1963), Sam Vico (1948) and Hack Miller (1944), according to MLB.com.
Add infielder Sergio Alcantara to the list.
In his first at-bat Sunday, the 24-year-old connected with an 86.7 mph offering from Twins starter (and Michigan product) Rich Hill and sent it 388 feet, over the wall in left-center field, for a solo homer to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. He finished his debut 1-for-3.
[ Tigers’ Willi Castro can lock down shortstop with Niko Goodrum out ]
Through 2,611 minor-league at-bats across seven seasons, Alcantara only had nine homers. Last season for Double-A Erie, he had two, with a .247 batting average and 27 RBIs.
Right-hander Rony Garcia entered for Mize in his first appearance since Sept. 1 and second dating back to Aug. 24. Had it not been for the Tigers’ offensive outburst in the sixth and seventh innings, Garcia – a Rule 5 draft pick over the offseason – would’ve taken the loss.
He gave up three runs on four hits while getting only two outs.
His replacement, right-hander John Schreiber, got out of the jam, but gave up an RBI single to Eddie Rosario in the bottom of the sixth.
The Tigers added three runs in the top of the sixth on a two-run homer from Willi Castro and a single from Greiner to cut the deficit to one run. Then, down two again in the seventh, RBIs from Jeimer Candelario and Castro tied the score at 7.
Righty Kyle Funkhouser came in for the seventh. Josh Donaldson pinch-hit with a runner on first, but Funkhouser struck out the 2015 AL MVP with a 97.6 mph fastball.
Right-hander Bryan Garcia, pitching with a two-run lead, entered for the ninth and pitched a scoreless final inning.
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