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Tigers 4, Guardians 3 (Gm 1): Kerry Carpenter wins it with a walkoff homer

The two-out shot in the ninth makes it four in a row for the suddenly streaking Tigers.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The flaws remain obvious, but the Detroit Tigers are getting it done recently. They missed some chances in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader with Cleveland, but when they needed a hero, Kerry Carpenter was there. The Tigers’ outfielder remained red-hot, launching a solo shot into the seats in right field for the club’s four straight win, and the third in a row in walk-off fashion. Wild.

There are two classic types of Matthew Boyd outings. In one, he gets rocked right out of the gate, and then eventually settles in to give his team some innings. In the other, he seems to be cruising the first time through an opposing order and then falls apart for an inning. Today was the latter type.

Boyd had the Guardians in check early on. Other than a Josh Bell walk in the second inning that led nowhere for Cleveland, the Tigers’ veteran lefty had no issues at all through the first three innings. Meanwhile, his team managed to stake him to a slight lead.

The Tigers struck quickly in the bottom of the first on a cold, somewhat blustery day in downtown Detroit. Nick Maton drew a walk from burly right-hander Hunter Gaddis to lead off the bottom of the first. Riley Greene singled Maton to third, and a deep fly ball to left off the bat of Javier Báez allowed Maton to score. Riley Greene promptly stole second base to get into scoring position, but Kerry Carpenter and Akil Baddoo made routine outs to end the frame.

The Tigers got two-out singles from Zach McKinstry and Eric Haase in the second, but Maton flew out to end the inning. They then went quickly in the third.

Without adding on runs, Boyd’s lead was in serious jeopardy and things fell apart in the fourth. A one-out single from Jose Ramirez and a bobble from Akil Baddoo in left to put the Guardians star on second base. Josh Bell ripped a double to score Ramirez and then rode home on a deep drive to left from Oscar Gonzalez. 3-1 Guardians.

Akil Baddoo led off the fourth with a rocket right to Myles Straw in center field. Spencer Torkelson followed with a line drive single to left and then stole second base, his first theft of the year. Unfortunately, the birthday boy, Miguel Cabrera flew out to left and McKinstry grounded out. Boyd issued a walk but no more in the top of the fifth, and the Tigers had another chance to catch Cleveland in the bottom half.

Haase singled to lead off the inning. Nick Maton popped out, but Greene and Báez followed with singles, the latter of which plated Haase. Kerry Carpenter doubled to right to score Greene and move Báez to third. However, Baddoo popped out and Torkelson lifted a fly ball to Straw in center field for the third out. Still, we had a tie ballgame.

At least someone is swinging the bat well. Pretty much the Carpenter/Maton show early on this season.

All in all, this was a classic Matt Boyd start. 5 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 SO.

Mason Englert took over in the sixth and made short work of the back of the Guardians' order. He got a quick pair of ground outs and then whiffed Mike Zunino on a slider to wrap the inning.

The Guardians turned the ball over to former Gonzaga Bulldog, Eli Morgan in the bottom of the sixth. Cabrera grounded out to start the half-inning. McKinstry followed with a single but was cut down trying to steal right before Haase smoked a single back through the box with two outs. Haase got balked to second, but Maton flew out to left to end the inning.

Tyler Freeman opened Englert’s second frame with a single to start the seventh. Straw dropped a sac bunt to move Freeman to second with one out. Steven Kwan followed by dumping a little bleeder into left field for a single to move Freeman to third. At that point, hunting the go-ahead run, Terry Francona pinch-hit Josh Naylor for Gabriel Arias. Fortunately, Naylor grounded a slick 4-6-3 double play on a well-located Englert changeup. Solid two innings from the rookie middle reliever again. The kid, as we old folks say, appears to have the ol’ moxie.

Riley Greene led off the bottom half of the seventh fully stretched and with a single through the right side of the infield. Báez struck out, but Carpenter ripped an opposite-field single to get Greene into scoring position. Akil Baddoo, having a rather awful game from the five-hole, struck out. At that point, Francona turned to Nick Sandlin to shut down Torkelson with two on and two outs, and he succeeded, popping up the Tigers' first baseman to turn back the threat. And we were now frustrated.

However, Englert was still on the mound, and he soothed the rage by striking out Jose Ramirez swinging over a good slider. A pair of quick outs followed to turn things over to the offense again.

Sandlin struck out Cabrera, finding his 40’s not to his liking thus far, and then got McKinstry to ground out. However, Haase continued a really good day by dumping a two-out single into right field. That made it four hits on the day for the Tigers’ catcher. His single sent Francona back to his bullpen for the bro-Magnon stylings of James Karinchak with Nick Maton at the dish. Maton was apparently looking first-pitch curveball because he got one over the heart of the plate and...flew out to center field.

Alex Lange took over in the ninth and started dishing out heavy doses of his curveball. He got two quick outs before allowing a two-out Tyler Freeman double. Fortunately, Myles Straw flew out on a routine fly ball to center field to end the frame.

Riley Greene grounded out on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the ninth. Báez battled through a seven-pitch AB but grounded out as well, and this was not good. That left this up to Carpenter and once again he was the man for the job. The Tigers’ outfielder spat on a bunch of good curveballs out of the zone, fouled off Karinchak’s fastballs in the zone, and worked into a 3-2 count. Carpenter fouled off three more fastballs and then crushed the last one he saw to right field for the game-winner.

Wow. That is four straight for the Tigers, three in a row in walk-off fashion. Kerry Carpenter is red hot.