The Detroit Tigers took advantage of mistakes.
Then they built on an early lead.
A big four-run second inning was fueled by a batter and a pair of field errors, but the Tigers wouldn’t have scored without hits, and without those big hits, they might not have won their third game in a row. against the Cleveland Guardians.
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The Tigers kept their foot on the gas and smoked the Guardians, 11-4, as the offense attacked right-hander Cal Quantrill on Tuesday for six runs over their four innings and beat the bullpen for a handful of insurance points.
“We got a couple hits at the right time,” manager AJ Hinch said. “There were some big hits after a number of good hits where we made it work. … It’s the kind of offense we have to be, where we’re a little quick against a pitcher who’s been pretty decent.”
On Wednesday, the Tigers (33-47) will look to sweep the four-game series before a 12-game road trip against three American League Central teams: the Chicago White Sox (four games), Kansas City Royals (four games) and Guardians (four games).
“We know we desperately need wins,” receiver Eric Haase said. “To do it in the division, especially with these guys who are known to have given us tweaks in the past, it’s really huge. We’re just playing a better brand of baseball overall, so it’s good to see and I hope it continues.”
Detroit scored its 11 runs on 13 hits and five walks, with seven strikeouts. All nine starters reached base safely. Seven of the nine starters – apart from Spencer Torkelson and Robbie Grossman – have recorded successes.
Rookie Riley Greene went 2 for 5 with two doubles and three RBIs. The 21-year-old is batting .274 with a .787 OPS in 16 games in his MLB career. For its doubles, it produced exit speeds of 109.8 mph and 101.4 mph.
“I’ll stay it 100 times: momentum is key,” Greene said. “If one person swings it, the next person is going to swing it and the next person is going to swing it. It’s just passing it over the line.”
Miguel Cabrera went 3 for 3 with three singles and a walk. The 38-year-old has an average of 0.308 in 69 games. Victor Reyes had three hits and three RBIs, and Haase had two hits and drove two.
The Tigers scored 10+ points for the third time this season. Position player Harold Castro pitched the ninth inning and allowed a sacrifice steal for Cleveland’s fourth and final inning.
“I hate it,” Hinch said of putting Castro on the mound in a win. “I think you’re going to see a bit more of it. I think it’s maybe the first time I’ve done it in my career on the positive side. It’s losing, losing for me. … We’re in trying to save as much pitching as possible.”
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After Castro retired, the next three batters reached safely in the second inning: Jonathan Schoop (hit-per-pitch), Jeimer Candelario (field error), and Torkelson (walk).
With the bases loaded, Reyes sprayed a two-strike change — well outside the strike zone — into left field for a two-run single and a 2-1 advantage. On the play, however, Torkelson was ejected trying to advance to third base.
Greene, on his RBI brace in the corner of right field for a 3-1 lead, became the first Tigers player to reach base in 15 of his first 16 games since Quintin Berry in 2012.
“He let the cutter down and a bit,” Greene said. “I got my hands on it and kept it fair enough.”
Cabrera’s RBI single made it 4-1.
In the second inning, Quantrill threw 33 shots and his defense was responsible for two errors. He also threw 14 pitches in the first inning, 19 pitches in the third and 18 pitches in the fourth.
Quantrill, who entered with a 3.72 ERA, had the shortest start to his season.
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The Tigers got to Quantrill for two more runs in the fourth, courtesy of Haase’s two-run homer on a cutter in a 2-0 tally. He has seven homers, including four in his last seven games (five starts), and is tied with Javier Báez for the team lead.
“I wasn’t picking up the ball,” Haase said. “As soon as the sun went down, on the next at-bat, I spat on a few pitches and had one to hit, and ended up hitting it. It couldn’t have been more different than how I felt, from the first AB couple to the third and fourth. Overall, it’s just good to come away with some success after the way it started.
After Quantrill’s exit, the Tigers added two runs in the fifth inning against right-handed reliever Nick Sandlin and three runs in the sixth inning against southpaw Sam Hentges.
For the two runs in the fifth, Greene hit a two-run double wide to left center with two outs. He led Candelario (inside singles) and Reyes (inside singles) for an 8-2 margin.
“I just pass the bat down the line,” Greene said. “They gave me an opportunity and I took advantage of it.”
In the sixth, Candelario drew a goal-laden walk for the team’s ninth inning, Torkelson dug in a force for the 10th inning, and Reyes picked left field for the 11th inning.
The best part of Drew Hutchison’s first of three starts leading up to the All-Star break was the fifth inning, when a Luke Maile first single answered by striking out three in a row.
He completed his outing before Jose Ramirez intervened. The Tigers had right-handed reliever Jason Foley just in case, but because of Hutchison’s three outs, Hinch didn’t need to use him until the sixth.
“I had a good game plan,” Hutchison said. “I did a good job attacking. This attack is going to put the ball in play. Haase did a great job, and the guys did a great job putting in a few runs. I tried to stay aggressive, and I think I did a good job of doing that.”
Hutchison allowed two runs (one earned run) on five hits. The 31-year-old entered with a walk rate of 14.6% but did not issue the Guardians a free pass. He struck out two batters.
The Guardians scored against him once in the first inning and again in the fourth.
Amed Rosario got to first on a field error from a Castro out, filling in at shortstop for Báez, and then scored on Franmil Reyes’ sacrifice volley. With the run, Cleveland took a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, with the Guardians trailing by three runs, Owen Miller hit an RBI single through the vacated right side of the infield.
For his 85 pitches (59 strikes), Hutchison fired 33 four-seam fastballs (39%), 31 sliders (36%), 11 pellets (13%) and 10 changes (12%). He recorded seven swings and misses, including four with his slider.
“Look, I’m going to go out there and do my best,” Hutchison said. “I believe in myself. I believe in the pitcher that I am. I’m here to help us win. Every chance I get, I’m going to do what I can.”
The Tigers’ bullpen took over for the final four innings: Foley in sixth, right-hander Wily Peralta in seventh, Peralta and right-hander Joe Jiménez in eighth, and Castro in ninth.
Peralta came out with one out in the eighth due to a left hamstring spasm. His replacement – Jimenez – allowed Cleveland’s third inning.
“I don’t see how he’s avoiding the disabled list,” Hinch said.
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