DETROIT — The first Tigers home game without capacity restrictions wasn’t going to produce a capacity crowd on a rainy Tuesday evening, but it did produce a hometown hero. Eric Haase continued his hitting tear for the team he grew up idolizing, slugging a two-run home run as part of a three-run opening inning as the Tigers rolled to a 5-3 win over the Mariners.
On a night when the Tigers used defense and small ball to win in spacious Comerica Park, Haase’s sixth home run of June made the ballpark look small. Much like his tape-measure drives last weekend against the White Sox in Chicago, his drive to left off Mariners starter Marco Gonzales was a no-doubter.
Haase hit five homers over four games on the Tigers’ road trip to Milwaukee and Chicago last week before the White Sox threw him a steady diet of offspeed pitches and breaking balls Sunday. The Mariners took a similar strategy Tuesday behind Gonzales, who threw back-to-back changeups to Haase after Miguel Cabrera singled home Robbie Grossman to open the scoring.
Gonzales’ first changeup to Haase that nearly caught the bottom edge of the zone didn’t get the call. His next changeup was up just enough for Haase to punish, sending a 424-foot drive to the left-field seats.
Haase’s eighth home run in 20 games this season continued a power display that began with a two-homer game last month in Seattle, shortly after his callup to shore up the Tigers’ catching depth following Wilson Ramos’ back injury. Not only has Haase become a regular in the Tigers lineup with his hitting, he became Detroit’s cleanup hitter Tuesday with Jeimer Candelario away on the bereavement list.