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Tigers 4, Royals 3: Power and a strong bullpen lock down season’s first home win

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A pair of home runs coupled with a shutout performance from the bullpen catapulted the Tigers to victory on Tuesday night.

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Tigers beat the Royals 4-3 on Tuesday night in Detroit to earn their first home win of the 2020 season. Making his major league debut, Rule-5 selection Rony Garcia gave up all three runs the Tigers surrendered, but showed promise during his short start. The Tigers are now 3-2 in this young season.

Garcia started and cruised through his first two innings of work, getting back-to-back one-two-three innings to start his career, but then ran into trouble in the third. With one out and one on, Brett Phillips hit a rocket on the ground to first base that ricocheted off the glove of C.J. Cron. The ball bounced back to Garcia, and instead of holding onto it, he threw the ball wildly over Cron’s head at first.

The two errors paved the way for certified Tiger killer Whit Merrifield to come to the plate with two juicy steaks sitting on second and third just begging to be brought home. Merrifield, after finishing a triple shy of the cycle Monday night, did what he does against the Tigers and sent an 0-1 fastball over the left field wall to give the Royals a 3-0 lead. Merrifield would go only 1-4 on the night, but still hit the ball hard in three of his at bats.

Garcia would respond confidently to punch out Jorge Soler and Adalberto Mondesi to end the inning as well as his outing. Overall, he finished with two earned runs over three innings with three strikeouts, three hits, and no walks.

The Tigers responded in the bottom half of the inning with a couple blasts of their own. After JaCoby Jones was drilled in the helmet with a fastball, Tyler Zuber came on in relief of starter Kyle Zimmer. Fortunately, the heater caught Jones in the faceguard and he was shaken up but stayed in the game. Zuber got Niko Goodrum to fly out to center for the first out of the inning, but Jonathon Schoop followed by launching his first home run in a Tigers uniform, a 440-plus foot bomb to the bushes in dead center field.

The offense wasn’t done yet, though. After a two-out walk to Cron, Christin Stewart broke out for his first hit of the season in a big way, a 400-plus foot home run to left-center field to put the Tigers ahead 4-3.

From there, the Tigers bullpen — gulp — actually locked the game down without any real drama. Tyler Alexander pitched scoreless fourth and fifth innings. Jose Cisnero then pitched a one-two-three sixth. Gregory Soto came on in the seventh and once again looked absolutely dominant dotting the strike zone with 99 MPH fastballs to pair with a wipeout power slider. He went one-two-three on only eight pitches with two strikeouts. Buck Farmer threw a strong eighth inning without any base runners, and then closer Joe Jimenez earned his third save of the season capping off a perfect ninth with a three-pitch strikeout of Salvador Perez.

The Tigers and Royals meet up for the third of four games at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, with Matt Boyd making his second start of the year for the home team.