For the first time since the 2019 season, the Detroit Tigers opened Comerica Park to full capacity for Monday’s series opener with the Seattle Mariners.
The fans in the stands — 9,081 tickets sold — received a welcome from Eric Haase’s first-inning home run and a slew of stellar defensive plays. They were also treated winning baseball, as the Tigers (25-35) picked up a 5-3 victory over the Mariners. The three-game series opener was delayed by 36 minutes because of rain.
Detroit has four wins in four games against Seattle this season. The offense scored five runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out six times. Haase, Robbie Grossman and Derek Hill had two-hit performances.
Left-hander Matthew Boyd pitched the Tigers through six innings. He gave up one run (zero earned runs) on six hits and one walk. He struck out three batters and threw 67 of 97 pitches for strikes. He lowered his ERA to 3.56 in a bounce-back effort after troubles in his past four outings.
The bullpen took care of the final three innings, but not without issues created by Joe Jimenez in the eighth inning. He loaded the bases — hit batter, walk and infield single — and was pulled without recording an out. Jimenez tossed 3 of 11 pitches for strikes.
Daniel Norris entered and got a double play, which allowed the Mariners to score their second run. The third run came on Taylor Trammell’s double to the right-center gap. Norris escaped further damage by striking out Jack Mayfield on three pitches, finishing him with a changeup.
Kyle Funkhouser pitched a scoreless seventh inning, and Jose Cisnero logged his second save with a scoreless ninth.
Defense hurts, then helps Boyd
The Tigers’ defense stumbled — and then recovered — in the second inning. The first batter, Shed Long Jr., doubled off Boyd on a fly ball to left fielder Akil Baddoo.
But Long’s double should have been an out. The ball was misplayed by the Rule 5 draft pick.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop added a two-out fielding error. His mistake allowed Long to score easily for the Mariners’ first run.
Boyd escaped the inning on a spectacular running catch from Baddoo, who dashed to the left-field corner and lunged to take a double away from Mitch Haniger. Still, Boyd was forced to labor through 30 pitches to get three outs.
He helped to keep the bullpen fresh by throwing eight pitches in the third inning and 16 pitches in the fourth. First-pitch strikes were thrown to all four batters he faced in the third, working around a two-out single.
Haniger was robbed of another double in the fourth, this time by Hill in center field. The Mariners had runners on first and second with two outs, so Hill’s running catch in the right-center gap also saved Boyd from allowing runs — just as Baddoo did in the second.
The defense stepped up again in the fifth inning to get Boyd, who plunked the first batter, back to the bench. He struck out Kyle Seager swinging with a slider for the first out, and third baseman Isaac Paredes — recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday morning — turned a Tom Murphy line drive into a double play.
Boyd tossed 14 pitches in the fifth and 11 pitches in a perfect sixth to complete his outing. He got Mayfield to whiff at an outside changeup for his final out. He produced 10 swings and misses and 11 called strikes.
Tigers score early
Mariners starter Marco Gonzales hung three pitches up in the zone to the first four batters he faced, and the Tigers made him pay with a leadoff double from Grossman, RBI single from Miguel Cabrera and two-run homer from Haase.
Cabrera played the 2,500th game in his MLB career.
Haase’s 424-foot blast to left field was his eighth home run this season. It marked his sixth home run in his past six games. During this stretch, Haase is 9-for-20 (.450) with one double, six home runs, nine RBIs, three walks and 10 strikeouts.
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The Tigers cushioned the lead in the second inning. Niko Goodrum stole third base — his 11th steal this season — and scored on Hill’s one-out single to left field for a 4-1 lead. Hill advanced to second base with heads up base running and a fielding error but was stranded.
In the fifth, the Tigers made the most of HIll’s speed on the bases. He singled to start the inning, stole second base with one out and scored on Schoop’s single to center field. With the bases loaded and one out, Willi Castro popped out to third base and Paredes popped out to shortstop.
Called up when Jeimer Candelario went to the bereavement list, Paredes returned to the big leagues for the second time in his career. The 22-year-old is the Tigers’ No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He made his MLB debut last season.
Facing the Mariners, Paredes grounded out to shortstop in his first at-bat to end the first inning. He flied out to right field for the first out in the fourth and stranded the bases loaded with a weak pop out to shortstop in the fifth. He struck out looking on a changeup in the eighth.
He finished 0-for-4 with one strikeout in his first game back from the minor leagues.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.