Things didn’t look good until the eighth inning came around, but the Detroit Tigers managed to pull off a comeback 4-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night, extending the team’s winning streak to four games.
Joey Wentz cruised through the first inning of the ball game, needing just nine pitches to get through the first four Royals of the night, but the second brought trouble. After giving up a leadoff walk to Edward Olivares, Wentz left a cutter over the heart of the plate and Hunter Dozier didn’t miss it. Akil Baddoo tried to track the ball and rob the home run, but it cleared the wall easily. 2-0, Royals.
That wasn’t the last pitch left middle-middle of the night, either. He hung another one to Olivares in the third and gave up a ground-rule double, putting men on second and third. Dozier came up looking to damage in back-to-back innings, but Wentz eventually froze him with a high curve.
The fourth brought more trouble for Wentz, but he ended up getting bailed out by a web-gem worthy play from Jonathan Schoop. After striking out Michael Massey, Wentz gave up his third walk of the night to Michael A. Taylor, who scored on a Nate Eaton triple two pitches later. If you’re wondering, yes, Eaton’s triple came off a fastball down the middle. Fortunately, Schoop snagged a line drive hit by MJ Melendez and made a heads-up play to get Eaton at third before he got back to the bag.
Wentz finally got his first 1-2-3 inning of the night in the fifth, and he did it on just seven pitches. However, three-run deficits don’t erase themselves, and perhaps you’ve noticed that there’s not much written above about how the Tigers fared on offense. That’s because Zack Greinke held them quiet for seven innings.
Greinke used a fairly even mix of pitches, rotating between his four-seam, changeup, curveball and cutter often. His stuff didn’t generate a ton of swing and miss from the Tigers' hitters. Detroit only struck out twice on Wednesday, which is low for this squad, but Greinke generated a lot of soft contact. He left with a 3-0 lead, but it wouldn’t hold for long after he came out of the game.
Last time Zack Greinke beat Tigers was 9/9/2012 while with Angels. Anibal Sanchez got the loss. Ernesto Frieri got the save.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) September 28, 2022
Greinke is thru 7 scoreless on 4 hits with 3-0 lead on way towards what would be his 14th career win over Tigers, tying DET with COL, SD and SF for most.
Jason Foley entered the game in relief of Wentz to start the sixth and quickly got the first two outs of the inning. Massey doubled and Taylor reached on an infield single to make things interesting, but Foley got out of the jam unscathed with a strikeout of Eaton.
Angel De Jesus was even more effective in the seventh and eighth. His only mistake was a leadoff walk to MJ Melendez, but De Jesus retired the next five Royals and looked like he wanted to stay in to finish out the eighth. A. J. Hinch opted to bring in Daniel Norris, though, setting up a lefty-on-lefty matchup. It paid off, and Norris K’d Massey to get the job done.
Detroit finally got some offense going in the bottom half of the inning, with Dylan Coleman in for Greinke. Spencer Torkelson worked a seven-pitch walk and then beat out what should’ve been a routine fielder’s choice at second base off of Schoop’s bat. Although he was initially called out, replay confirmed that Torkelson slid into second before the ball reached the bag and the replay booth overturned the call. Akil Baddoo bunted for a base hit, and the bases were loaded.
Riley Greene came up to bat looking to hit the first grand slam of his major league career, but he settled for another botched fielder’s choice that brought in Torkelson. Perez had the out at home, but he pulled his foot off the plate as the ball hit his glove. In fairness, Perez played it as he should. He can’t block the plate until he has possession of the ball, and Torkelson was crossing the plate as the ball got there. 20 years ago, he’d have to catch it and brace for a collision, which isn't exactly ideal either.
Javy Báez struck out for out No. 2 of the inning, but Harold Castro came up big with a two-run, two-out single into left field. With the lead gone and Greinke’s win blown, Coleman came out of the game in favor of Carlos Hernandez. He got Miguel Cabrera to fly out and end the inning, but the momentum of the game had clearly shifted in favor of Detroit.
Harold Castro comes through! pic.twitter.com/P6JvvCpicV— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 28, 2022
Jose Cisnero used nine pitches to sit the Royals down 1-2-3 in the ninth, but Detroit couldn’t score in the bottom half of the frame against Kansas City’s closer, Scott Barlow, and the game headed into extra innings.
Alex Lange was next on the mound for the Tigers. He gave up an infield single to start the inning, but Harold Castro made a nice play to hold Melendez at second. Perez popped out to second, and Vinnie Pasquantino grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Former Michigan State Spartan Anthony Misiewicz pitched the 10th for the Royals. Tucker Barnhart dropped down a sacrifice bunt to get Torkelson to third, and the Royals intentionally walked Eric Haase to get to Riley Greene. Misiewicz struck out Greene and then intentionally walked Báez to get to Castro, the man who sent the game to extra innings.
And what a mistake that was.
Castro waited for his pitch and fell into an 0-2 hole, but he stayed cool and laced a ball that looked like it was in the dirt into center field to walk it off. Torkelson scored, and the Tigers chased after Castro as he carried the bat around first base like a trophy.
The Tigers are playing good baseball at the end of a bad season. You can’t ask for much more at this point, and it’s been fun to watch this past week. And it’s not like they’re playing for nothing. If Detroit manages a sweep of Kansas City this week, it’ll give the Tigers the edge in the season series.