He needed a moment like this. The introduction of Javier Báez to the Detroit Tigers’ fanbase has been rough, to say the least. After starting out hot, the mercurial shortstop went into a dreadful funk for nearly two months. The pain was real.
However, things have been better of late, and on Friday night in Arizona against the Diamondbacks, Báez came through with a huge blast in the third inning against right-hander Merrill Kelly. After two quiet innings, Eric Haase got things started with a ground ball single, and leadoff man Victor Reyes did the same. Riley Greene laced another hit to right, and the bases were jacked.
Javier Báez took a fastball in for a ball and then fouled another one off. As is his custom, he bit badly at a breaking ball down and away to run the count to 1-2. Kelly then made a big old mistake and dropped a curveball right down the middle at the bottom of the zone.
As Peter Kwasniak noted in his well-timed article this afternoon, Báez really has been rolling lately. After such a prolonged, brutal slump, it’s hard to trust that it will last long enough to counteract the funks. But the offense sure does look a lot different with him swinging it well.
The Tigers led 4-0 through three innings, as Rony Garcia settled in after a shaky start for a quick 1-2-3 frame after getting the run support, turning it back over to his offense in the fourth as of this writing.
Javier Báez is third SS in Tiger history to homer in three consecutive games, joining Carlos Guillen (4 straight in 2007) and Dick McAuliffe (1966). The Báez grand slam traveled 459 feet, longest by a Tiger since Jeimer Candelario's 467-ft drive on 7/15/19.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 25, 2022