The Tigers jumped all over Rangers starter Cole Hamels on Saturday, knocking him out in the first inning. Mike Fiers contributed yet another fine start, and the home team cruised to a 7-2 victory on a picture perfect Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Things unraveled right out of the gate for the Rangers. Hamels punched out leadoff hitter Mikie Mahtook, but Nicholas Castellanos pounced on a fourseamer on the inner edge, getting his arms in and crunching a big solo shot to left field, his 15th on the season. A single from Niko Goodrum followed. Goodrum swiped second base and John Hicks plated him with a single. Then consecutive walks to Victor Martinez and Jeimer Candelario loaded the bases. Hamels just couldn’t locate anything, and while he had some bad luck, that tends to happen when you put yourself behind the eight-ball like that.
James McCann struck out, but the Tigers weren’t even close to finished with Hamels. First, Jose Iglesias slapped a single that deflected off Hamels’ glove, plating a run and keeping the bases juiced. JaCoby Jones was next with a shrieking 106 mph bullet to Delino DeShields that fooled the Rangers center fielder initially. He took a step in, then rapidly back-pedaled, trying to turn and make the catch as it tailed away and over his head. It clanged off his glove and cleared the bases, with Jones cruising into second base. Leadoff hitter Mikie Mahtook capped things off with a double to left-center as Jones bounded home.
The Rangers were forced to turn to Matt Moore, and Moore acquitted himself nicely, stifling the Tigers’ offense through the fifth inning. Alex Claudio then came through with two innings of scoreless relief.
Meanwhile, Mike Fiers command was sharp again, and he mixed his deep arsenal well. The Rangers were off balance most of the afternoon. In the fifth he allowed back-to-back drives to Adrian Beltre and Rougned Odor. Beltre was flat-out robbed by JaCoby Jones, who made a spectacular catch, flying through the air into the left-centerfield wall to haul Beltre’s shot back over the wall. Odor’s was uncatchable, smoked 400+ feet down the right field line. In the end, Fiers went six innings, striking out six while allowing one run on a walk and five hits. Pretty, pretty good.
Blaine Hardy came on and pitched a quick seventh inning. In the eighth he got into some trouble. A pair of soft singles to Beltre and Nomar Mazara, followed by a passed ball on James McCann, put runners on second and third for Odor. The Rangers’ second baseman put up a fight, but Hardy was up to it as well, eventually freezing him with a nasty front door cutter on the edge to turn back the Rangers’ threat.
Alex Wilson remains an adventure. He allowed a run to the Rangers in the ninth and continues to look unusable in a close game, but closed it out despite some loud sounds off the Rangers’ bats.
Niko is Good
Mikie Mahtook had a nice day, racking up a pair of hits including a double out of the leadoff spot. Jose Iglesias also had two hits, including a double, a run scored, and some luck on his first inning RBI single. Even Victor Reyes got into the act with a pinch-hit single in the bottom of the eighth inning. But of the Tigers’ lesser lights offensively, no one shined brighter than Niko Goodrum on Saturday.
The Tigers’ second baseman went 4-for-4, with a double and a stolen base. He now has eight home runs, a .325 OBP, and a 114 wRC+ on the season, through 246 plate appearances. The Tigers may not have a long-term starter in Goodrum. In fact that’s still the likely scenario, but the 26-year-old Twins castoff has been a force with the bat and on the bases. The ability to contribute in multiple ways has earned him a full-time gig, and so far, he’s running with it.
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?
This poll is closed
Niko Goodrum: 4-4, R, 2B, BB, SB
Nick Castellanos: 1-4, R, RBI, HR, BB, 2 SO
Mike Fiers: 6.0 IP, ER, 5 H, BB, 6 SO