On a night where the Tigers were honoring their 1968 World Series title over the Cardinals, Detroit welcomed their classic foe back to the Motor City only to beat St. Louis in dramatic fashion. Daniel Norris turned in a solid start facing off against Austin Gomber, an obvious create-a-character from MLB The Show. The Cardinals struck first, but the Tigers answered every time. Up until the ninth, the Tigers hadn’t led once in the game, but Jeimer Candelario had something to say about that. Thanks to a walk-off homer from the Candy-man, the Tigers took the series opener 5-3.
Norris toed the rubber for his second start since coming back from his four-month groin rehabilitation, and was pretty good, considering. His command and stamina are clearly a work in progress, which is to be expected after such a long layoff, but when he was able to put the ball where he wanted it, he looked flat out dominant. He sat 91 MPH with his four-seam fastball, so his arm strength still has a ways to go before getting back to full strength, but he used it effectively up in the zone for most of the night. The only blemishes on his record were two home runs from Marcell Ozuna, and a double* from Kolten Wong where he came around to score.
*Mikie Mahtook made an awkward dive on a ball that probably should’ve been caught, and it resulted in the ball getting away from him to give Wong a “double”.
Overall, it was a step in the right direction for Norris. Still lots to work on, including the inconsistency in his tempo and mechanics, but seeing him back out on the mound without any health issues is huge, and the stuff is still very nasty. In his five innings, he allowed three runs, all earned, four hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts on 90 pitches.
After Ozuna got the scoring started in the second inning with his first solo shot, the Tigers got the run back on a ground out from Dawel Lugo that scored Ronny Rodriguez. In the fifth with the Cardinals leading 3-1, the Tigers loaded the bases with a bunt, a seeing-eye single, and a walk all with two outs. Nicholas Castellanos, who has been by far the team’s best run producer this season, swung at the first pitch from Gomber and lined it into left field to tie the game.
After some stellar bullpen work from the likes of Drew VerHagen, Daniel Stumpf, Joe Jimenez, and Shane Greene, the Tigers took the game into the ninth inning tied up 3-3. Facing Jordan Hicks, who averages over 100 MPH on his fastball, Victor Reyes lined an opposite field one-out single. Jeimer Candelario followed, and on the first pitch of the at bat, sent a long, towering walk-off home run into the Tigers bullpen to win 5-3.
Who was the Tigers’ Player of the Game?
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Jeimer Candelario: 3-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR, 2 SO
Nick Castellanos: 1-3, 2 RBI, BB
The bullpen: 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 5 SO