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Padres 5, Tigers 4: Close, but no cigar

The Tigers battled back after two early homers from Juan Soto but came up a run short.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Detroit Tigers Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers started off a seven-game home stand at Comerica Park with a narrow 5-4 loss against the San Diego Padres on Friday night.

Detroit’s starter, Reese Olson struggled in the first. After recording the first two outs of the game with ease, he gave up a 470-foot home run to Juan Soto, which sparked a three-run rally.

Olson's command on the outer third of the plate against righties was shaky. He walked Manny Machado, gave up a soft infield single to Xander Bogaerts and Jake Cronenworth just missed a homer off the center field wall. Luis Campusano finally grounded out to end the run for San Diego.

Detroit’s luck wasn’t as good at the plate in the first. Zach McKinstry got caught trying to stretch out a double, Riley Greene struck out looking and Kerry Carpenter grounded out back to the pitcher. The only baserunner of the inning was Spencer Torkelson, who drew an eight-pitch walk with two outs.

Olson almost went down the same path in the second, getting the first two outs, then giving up a missile to the third batter — Ha-seong Kim. Fortunately, Akil Baddoo was there in left to save the day. He timed his leap perfectly and robbed Kim of a home run. Olson showed Baddoo some love after letting out a sigh of relief.

The Tigers quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the second. Matt Vierling singled to start things off, and Javier Báez squeaked one up the middle, advancing to second on a misplay by Trent Grisham in center field. Vierling should have scored, but he didn’t see the signal.

Nick Maton’s walk loaded up the bases, but Baddoo and Jake Rogers both watched fastballs over the plate for strike three to give the Padres a pair of easy outs. McKinstry’s ground ball to the right side ended the threat. Cue the sad trombone noises.

Soto struck again in the third, blasting a two-run shot to left-center. Both homers would have cleared the old dimensions of Comerica Park and were no-doubters. Olson retired the next three batters in order, but the damage was done.

Lugo cruised through the bottom of the third. Kerry Carpenter reached on a walk, but Detroit’s young core — Greene and Torkelson — had already put the Tigers in a two-out hole.

Olson finally looked sharp for a full frame in the top of the fourth. He recorded his first 1-2-3 inning of the night, but the Tigers still needed to score some runs to have a chance at coming back.

Maton singled on a blooper that dropped a foot short of Grisham’s extended glove in shallow center for Detroit’s fourth hit of the night. Baddoo and Rogers both struck out again, wasting the effort.

Olson escaped a jam in the fifth, stranding Machado and Soto on second and third. Cronenworth took a hack at an elevated fastball, lining out to left field with two outs to end the half-inning. At 95 pitches, that was it for Olson.

McKinstry led off the bottom of the fifth with a line-drive home run over the right field wall. The ball didn’t look like it was getting out, but it cleared the yellow line at the top of the wall by a foot or less.

Chasen Shreve took over on the mound for Detroit in the sixth. He got both lefties that he faced in the inning, but he left the game after Campusano singled and Kim doubled to put men on the corners. Brendan White needed just one pitch to get rid of Fernando Tatís Jr.

Báez tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly from Maton, cutting San Diego’s lead down to three. Baddoo struck out for a third time to end the inning. Rough night for him at the plate.

White continued to handle the Padres’ most dangerous bats efficiently. He froze Soto with a sweeper at the bottom of the zone and got Machado and Bogaerts to ground out with just 12 pitches.

Detroit continued to eat away at San Diego’s lead in the seventh, scoring two off the bat of Riley Greene. Nick Martinez, who entered the game in relief of Lugo at the start of the inning, left a cutter over the plate, and Greene launched it over the right field wall. 5-4, Padres.

Tyler Holton gave the Tigers a clean inning on the mound to keep the momentum going at the plate. Gary Sanchez threatened to beat out a deep infield single along the third-base line, but McKinstry connected with Torkelson for the final out of the inning.

The Tigers couldn’t do much against Robert Suárez in the eighth, though. He quickly sat down Vierling, Báez and Maton, in that order, to send us to the ninth. Beau Brieske pitched a clean frame for Detroit, leaving the offense three outs to work with against Josh Hader.

Andy Ibanez and Miguel Cabrera pinch hit in the inning, but Hader’s stuff was simply too much for this Detroit lineup. He got Miggy to whiff at a back-foot slider to end the game, securing a 24th save on the year.

It’s hard to be too upset with his loss. Soto’s homers ended up being the difference, but at least Detroit fought back to make a close game until the end. There’s some momentum heading into Game 2 of this series, which looks like a must-win if the Tigers want to compete in the Central during the second half.