Boston — For a minute there, it felt like a 2013, Big Papi flashback.
The Tigers were up 3-1 with two outs in the seventh inning. Right-hander Bryan Garcia was summoned from the bullpen to face former Tiger J.D. Martinez with a man on. Martinez got a 94-mph elevated sinker on a 2-2 pitch that hovered over the middle of the plate and drove it into the Red Sox bullpen — just like David Ortiz did in the 2013 ALCS.
Victor Reyes valiantly leaped over the short wall, like Torii Hunter did — though he didn’t flip head over heels into the bullpen. Tie game.
But, on a wet, chilly Wednesday night, in a game that was delayed 37 minutes at the start, the Tigers did not die on that one swing by Martinez.
Jeimer Candelario delivered a long three-run home run to right field in the 10th inning to give the Tigers a hard-earned 6-5 win over the Red Sox, snapping a six-game losing streak.
With Robbie Grossman starting on second base in the 10th, Jonathan Schoop came up intent to hit the ball to the right side and advance him to third. He had one bloop fall just foul down the first base line. Then he hit a slicing drive to right land foul just a couple feet short of the Pesky pole.
On the third swing, he dunked a single into short right. Moving Grossman to third no outs. Candelario, who had two hits earlier, ambushed a first-pitch sinker from right-hander Garrett Whitlock and sent it deep into the right field seats.
The Red Sox nearly finished the Tigers off in the bottom of the ninth.
Lefty Gregory Soto got the first two outs before walking Kiki Hernandez. Rafael Devers doubled into the corner in left and the Tigers issued an intentional walk to Martinez. Soto got Xander Bogaerts to line out to left field, Grossman making a good running catch sliding on the wet outfield.
Soto couldn’t finish the task in the 10th. He gave up an RBI single to Marwin Gonzalez and then, slipping and sliding, couldn’t come up with a tapper back to the mound from Kevin Plawecki.
With two on and one out, manager AJ Hinch called on Michael Fulmer, who started and threw 33 pitches on Tuesday.
Fulmer got a ground ball from Hunter Renfroe that second baseman Willi Castro couldn’t field. That made it 6-5.
But Fulmer didn’t relent. He finished the game, getting Bobby Dalbec on a soft liner to third and then struck out Kiki Hernandez looking at a 97 mph sinker. It was Fulmer’s first career save.
Before all of that drama, though, JaCoby Jones and rookie right-hander Casey Mize had the Tigers in a position to win.
Jones, who hit a three-run home run on Tuesday, delivered a pair of clutch, two-out hits Wednesday, accounting for the Tigers’ three runs.
In the fourth inning, Perez struck out Niko Goodrum and Willi Castro with runners at first and second. Jones rescued the inning with a line single to left. Jeimer Candelario scored, tying the game at 1-1, after left fielder Franchy Cordero booted the ball.
In the sixth, Candelario and Goodrum were at third and second with one out. Willi Castro, anxious on a high first-pitch fastball, lined out softly to second against the drawn-in infield for the second out.
Jones fell into a fast 0-2 hole. But fouled off a fastball, took a curveball in the dirt and then lined a two-seamer off the Green Monster in left scoring both runners.
He picked a good time to heat up, too. Outfielder Nomar Mazara is about to come off the injured list, perhaps as early as this weekend.
Mize went six gritty innings, allowing just three singles and crafted his second straight quality start. He didn’t allow the first one until the fifth (a one-out infield single by Christian Vazquez). The only run that crossed on his watch came without a hit in the second inning.
Back-to-back walks to start the inning cost him, the run scoring on a ground out by Christian Arroyo.
Mize’s shutdown inning after the Tigers broke the 1-1 tie in the sixth was impressive. The first two Red Sox hitters reached – Martinez walked and Xander Bogaerts lined a single to right.
But Mize, who let a 1-2 mistake to White Sox Jake Lamb derail his start in Chicago, bowed his neck and got Vazquez to foul out to first base (sinker) and Marwin Gonzalez to hit a soft grounder to first (splitter) and then, after hitting Arroyo to load the bases, got Hunter Renfroe to hit a rollover grounder to third on a first-pitch sinker.
Mize dispatched Renfroe three times with runners in scoring position.
He spotted his two fastballs expertly, using the four-seam and two-seam sinker to X-off quadrants of the plate. He threw 34 two-seamers and 23 four-seamers. He was moving them up and down, as well as in and out. He mixed 13 curveballs, 13 splitters and 12 sliders off the fastballs.
He induced 10 ground-ball outs and allowed only four balls to reach the outfield.
Manager AJ Hinch called on lefty Daniel Norris in the seventh, with two left-handed hitters due up. He struck out right-handed pinch-hitter Bobby Dalbec and gave up a single to Kiki Hernandez before getting left-handed hitting Rafael Devers to ground out.
Hinch had no intention of letting Norris pitch to Martinez. He had Gacia warm from the start of the inning.
Jose Cisnero pitched a clean eighth.