Justin Upton walked the Tigers off with a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to cap a very, very weird game to give Detroit the 7-4 victory.
Justin Verlander started off the day exactly the way he didn't want to: by giving up a run in a 39-pitch first inning. Something was up with Verlander physically -- a "tight right groin," it was later revealed -- and after a Todd Frazier home run to lead off the third, a second trainer visit saw Verlander come out of the game, and Warwick Saupold got three very quick outs.
David Holmberg, in the mould of the legendary Bruce Chen, largely baffled the Tigers' offence with an assortment of off-speed pitches until JD Martinez hit a no-doubter solo shot in the fourth to climb back to 2-1. Holmberg didn't quite make it out of the inning, but Anthony Swarzak came on to quell any semblance of a rally.
Saupold's afternoon was heroic: four innings, two hits, four whiffs, no runs. He's been a stabilizing long-relief force in the Tiger bullpen of late.
After a seeing-eye infield single up the middle by Justin Upton to lead off the sixth, and an attempted pickoff that saw Upton end up on third, John "Don't Call Me Dante" Hicks evened the score at 2 with a long double to centre, scoring Upton easily. Hicks then stole third uncontested -- relax, you read that right -- and pinch-hitter Alex "Don't Call Me Lisa Marie" Presley hit a ground ball under the second baseman's glove for an error, scoring Hicks. Jose Iglesias dribbled a grounder towards second; it was gloved this time, but Andrew Romine scored on the fielder's choice. (Romine pinch-ran for Victor Martinez, who was intentionally walked whilst pinch-hitting for Mikie Mahtook. Got all that? Good.) Three runs in the sixth put the Tigers up 4-2.
Alex Wilson pitched an uneventful seventh; three doubles off him in the eighth pushed across two for Chicago to tie the score. Daniel Stumpf came on to give up a single, but Shane Greene shut the door to leave the score tied. Justin Wilson came on in a tie game in the top of the ninth to put the first two men on with a walk and a single, but an infield popup and a slick double play got him out of trouble.
In the bottom of the ninth, Nicholas Castellanos was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and a sure-fire double-play ball by Miguel Cabrera was bobbled enough so that Castellanos made it safely to second. JD Martinez was intentionally walked, but Upton’s home run let the Tigers do a little different type of walking, if you catch my drift.
Warwick Saupold: Saved the Tigers’ bacon with four shutout innings of relief.
J.D. Martinez: Dinger, double. Somebody call the fire department, the man’s on fire.
Justin Upton: Walk-off home runs get an automatic roar in my book, friends.
(given the day off due to the sweep)
Stats and things:
- This was Verlander’s shortest start since August 11, 2014 in Pittsburgh.
- On the flipside, this was Saupold’s longest outing in the bigs; his previous high was 3 1⁄3 innings in Tampa on April 20, 2017.
- Iglesias cooled off a bit with an 0-for-3 day; he was 17-for-38 heading into the game.