Bombs away: Five HRs give Tigers first series win in Houston since ’13

Detroit News

Houston – It was just one at-bat, but it felt like it caused a sea change for the Tigers Tuesday night and kickstarted their second straight win over the Astros, 8-2 at Minute Maid Park.

And, in keeping with the theme of things these days, it involved Rule 5 rookie Akil Baddoo. A lot things involved Baddoo in this one.

The Tigers trailed 1-0 and Astros starter Jake Odorizzi was cruising through two innings. He was baffling hitters with his not-overpowering four-seam fastball (91-93 mph). Baddoo, leading off the third, had a couple of ugly swings on the fastball himself.

But he kept the at-bat alive, worked the count full and then stayed back on a split-changeup and drove it into the Crawford boxes above the wall in left field.

It was if a seal was broken.

By the time Astros manager Dusty Baker removed Odorizzi from the game one inning later, the Tigers had clubbed three home runs, all of them into the Crawford boxes.

Nomar Mazara and Renato Nunez hit two-run homers in a four-run fourth inning, both were off Odorizzi’s fastball. Nunez’s came after he’d fouled off five fastballs in a 10-pitch at-bat. It was the second homer of the season for Mazara and the second in two nights for Nunez.

In the fifth inning, off reliever Bryan Abreu, catcher Wilson Ramos bashed another two-run shot, this one to right field. And Ramos wasn’t done. He hit another one out to right field in the ninth.

His six homers lead the Tigers.

The Tigers had 11 home runs total when they got to Houston Monday. They’ve hit eight in two games here.

And in winning the first two, the Tigers have won a series in Houston for the first time since May 2-5, 2013.

It was an active night for Baddoo. With the home run, he became the first Tigers player to hit four home runs in his eight big-league games.

Baddoo later singled, but he didn’t stay there long. Abreu promptly picked him off first base.

Then Baddoo almost earned his first ejection in the sixth inning. He was called out on strikes by umpire Stu Scheurwater. Baddoo reacted first by pogo jumping at the plate then holding out two fingers, as if to tell Scheurwater he missed two pitches.

Scheurwater got right into Baddoo’s ear, walked with him back toward the dugout seemingly lecturing him about the dangers of trying to show up an umpire. Victor Reyes, the on-deck hitter, tried to pull Baddoo back and finally manager AJ Hinch got out there and occupied Scheurwater to allow Baddoo to get back into the dugout.

Meanwhile, Tigers’ lefty Matthew Boyd crafted his third straight strong start. He went 6.2 innings and limited the Astros to a run on six hits.

The run came in the second and was set up by two softly-struck singles with exit velocities of 65 and 71 mph. Boyd, though, limited the damage by striking out Jason Castro and Jose Altuve with runners at the corners.

He allowed two singles the rest of the way.

He had complete command of his four-seam fastball. He threw 42 of them, off which he flummoxed the Astros hitters with an array of sliders (27), changeups (20) and curveballs (seven). The average exit velocity on the 22 balls put in play against Boyd was 84 mph.

Boyd has given up more home runs than any pitcher in the American League the last two years – 54. But in three starts this year, he’s faced 78 batters without yielding one.

One final note on Baddoo: He got in some trouble Monday when he prematurely went into his home run trot on a ball that stayed in the park. Well, his sprint speed on his homer Tuesday was 19.30 — 13th fastest in the big leagues in 376 total homers.

Lesson learned.

Twitter@cmccosky

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