Báez provides spark as Tigers rally past Twins to salvage series split

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News on

Published in Baseball

DETROIT — The Tigers’ offensive struggles were lingering like a bad smell on Sunday.

Down 3-0 in the eighth inning, having been utterly stymied by Twins’ 6-9 right-hander Bailey Ober for six-plus innings, they looked dead in the water.

And then Javier Báez leaned into a hanging, 2-2 sweeper from lefty reliever Caleb Thielbar and sent it 399 feet into the left-field seats for his first homer of the year. A spark.

Four batters later and the Tigers had taken the lead and held on to salvage a split with the Twins in the four-game series at Comerica Park, 4-3. It was the 800th managerial win for skipper AJ Hinch.

"I finally got one," said Báez, who had gone 83 plate appearances since he last hit a homer in Anaheim on Sept. 15 last season. "I'm still working. Today I feel good. Yesterday I felt good, too. Just need to be consistent every day and take it out there. I've been thinking too much. Once I slow everything down, I should be good."

It was a most improbable rally, at least according to Statcast data. After Báez’s homer, Carson Kelly, against right-handed reliever Griffin Jax, reached on a ground ball (84 mph off the bat) that shortstop Willi Castro couldn’t field. It was scored a single.


Riley Greene then rolled a ground ball through the middle — hit probability .130 — sending Kelly to third.

With runners at the corners, Mark Canha hit a tricky bouncer to third base that got through third baseman Kyle Farmer. Hit probability was .080. Both runners scored to tie the game.

"Joey (Cora) is coaching third base, so I know I'm going," said Greene of his first-to-home dash. "Right when I saw the ball down the line and I saw that he missed it, I was thinking home. Once I saw Joey waving, just going nuts, then I was like, 'OK, put the head down and get there.'

"But I knew it had a shot to get all messed up."


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