Tigers’ trio notches career firsts in win

Detroit Tigers

Sergio Alcántara hit nine home runs in 2,611 Minor League plate appearances. He needed just two pitches Sunday for his first Major League homer.
His Tigers teammate, Grayson Greiner, has four hits since Aug. 19. Three of them are home runs, including a go-ahead loft just out of Eddie Rosario’s

Sergio Alcántara hit nine home runs in 2,611 Minor League plate appearances. He needed just two pitches Sunday for his first Major League homer.

His Tigers teammate, Grayson Greiner, has four hits since Aug. 19. Three of them are home runs, including a go-ahead loft just out of Eddie Rosario’s grasp over the left-field fence at Target Field that fueled a three-run eighth inning for a 10-8 win on Sunday.

Box score

Thus, on an afternoon when top pitching prospect Casey Mize’s search for his first Major League victory continued through four laborious innings, former Tigers starting prospect Kyle Funkhouser’s transition to hard-throwing late-inning reliever culminated in his first big league win.

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For the first half of the game, the Twins looked like they would grind through a tired Tigers pitching staff and run away with an early lead. Minnesota taxed Mize for 83 pitches over four-plus innings, shrugging off a splitter that had been Mize’s wipeout pitch. Three more fifth-inning runs off Rony Garcia built a 6-2 Twins lead.

At that point, Detroit’s lone bright spot appeared to be Alcántara’s third-inning homer off a 1-0 pitch from 40-year-old Twins starter Rich Hill. The drive to left made Alcántara the eighth Tiger ever to homer in his first big league at-bat, the first since pitcher Daniel Norris at Wrigley Field in 2015, and the first Tigers position player since Reggie Sanders in 1974.

Willi Castro’s two-run homer in the sixth inning started Detroit’s rally; he then slashed a seventh-inning single to tie the game. With several of Detroit’s main late-inning relievers on rest, on came Funkhouser, who made the Opening Day roster as an innings-eater but has found bigger situations with a velocity jump. He used a 97-mph fastball to fan pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson before stranding the go-ahead run on second base in the seventh.

Once Greiner’s wall-scraper, Jonathan Schoop’s RBI triple and Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single moved the Tigers in front, Funkhouser stayed on for the eighth, shrugging off an Eddie Rosario solo homer to hold the lead.

Bryan Garcia, a former standout closer at the University of Miami, has been viewed as a potential closer ever since Detroit drafted him in 2016. With Gregory Soto, Buck Farmer and Jose Cisnero all having worked the past two days, Garcia got his chance in the ninth, pitching around a leadoff single to leave the potential tying run at the plate.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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