Every coach and player from the Detroit Tigers stood for the national anthem at Comerica Park. A spot was left open in the line of coaches, right near interim manager Lloyd McClendon.
It was for former manager Ron Gardenhire, who announced his sudden retirement Saturday afternoon.
But there was still a game to be played Saturday at Comerica Park, and the Tigers (22-29) etched out a comeback victory, 5-2, over the Cleveland Indians. The win was No. 500 in McClendon’s career.
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Right fielder Daz Cameron plated the go-ahead run in the eighth inning with a line-drive single to right field off Phil Maton. The tying run came one batter earlier thanks to Eric Haase’s RBI single. Closer Bryan Garcia finished the three-run victory in the ninth.
The Tigers are 3½ games back of the Toronto Blue Jays (26-26) for the AL’s eighth and final playoff spot.
Detroit wraps up the four-game slate at 1:10 p.m. Sunday with left-hander Matthew Boyd on the mound to face righty Carlos Carrasco. A win would split the series.
The Tigers then finish the season with six road games — two against the Minnesota Twins and four against the Kansas City Royals.
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Striking first, last
In the first two games of this difficult series, the Tigers have been forced to play from behind facing esteemed right-handers Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac. However, they attacked rookie Triston McKenzie early, as Jeimer Candelario drew a two-out walk and Harold Castro drove him in with a double to right field.
The Tigers managed two hits and two walks in the first inning, but were only able to produce one run because Willi Castro struck out and Victor Reyes was thrown out attempting to steal second base to begin the game.
Seven innings later, the Tigers scored four in the eighth inning. Following singles from Haase and Cameron, Reyes walked with the bases loaded and Willi Castro plated the final run with a sacrifice fly.
Right-hander Spencer Turnbull held the Indians at bay until the top of the third inning, when Jose Ramirez doubled in two runs to right field.
Turnbull sent his opponents down in order in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
After allowing a double to Franmil Reyes to start the seventh, Turnbull was replaced by left-hander Daniel Norris, who got out of the jam by getting a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts.
Despite being in line for the loss when he left, Turnbull finished with two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. He didn’t allow a walk.
His 87 pitches were 46% four-seam fastballs, 26% sliders, 15% sinkers, 7% sliders and 6% curveballs. He produced 15 swinging strikes and 13 called strikes.
(Almost) no Miggy
Shortly after Gardenhire’s retirement was announced, designated hitter Miguel Cabrera was scratched from the starting lineup with a non-COVID illness.
But he entered as a pinch-hitter for Isaac Paredes in the eighth inning and worked an eight-pitch walk to load the bases.
Cabrera is hitting .232 with six homers and 23 RBIs this year.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.