Detroit – The portends were ominous.
Harold Castro, who was supposed to start at third base, was scratched with a right hand injury before the game. Then in the top of the first, just three batters in, Derek Hill crashed into the wall in center field while making an incredible running catch of a 429-foot rocket hit by Kyle Seager.
He left the game with a right shoulder sprain. Rookie Isaac Paredes replaced Castro and rookie Akil Baddoo took over for Hill.
And after starter Casey Mize hit two of the first four hitters he faced, well, it didn’t look good for the home team.
It didn’t end good, either.
After the teams swapped runs in the 10th, the Mariners scored five times off reliever Daniel Norris in the top of the 11th and beat the Tigers 9-6 in front of a small (9,162) but lively crowd at Comerica Park.
Left-fielder Jake Fraley, who took a game-winning home run away from Paredes in the bottom of the ninth, singled home one run. Rookie Dillon Thomas, making his big-league debut, knocked in two more with his first big-league hit, and Tom Murphy capped it with a two-run double.
The Mariners ended up sending nine hitters to the plate against Norris in the 11th.
The Tigers got two back in the bottom of the 11th on a two-run home run by Robbie Grossman.
Don’t sleep on omens.
Twice the Tigers were poised to celebrate walk-off home runs.
With a runner on in the bottom of the ninth, game tied 3-3, Paredes sent one on a line toward the bullpen in left field. It had two-run walk-off written all over it until Fraley reached over the fence, snared it and brought it back. Then he was able to double up pinch-runner Eric Haase who had already rounded second.
Just a phenomenal play to send the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, after Mariners J.P. Crawford singled home the go-ahead run, Baddoo sent a high, arching drive down the right field line. Again, arms were raised in celebration. But the would-be walk-off homer went foul.
The Tigers caught a break, though. The next pitch from reliever J.T. Chargois got past catcher Murphy and Paredes, the free runner, was able to score from third and the game went to the 11th.
The Tigers had control of this game for the first five innings. Mize settled in and allowed just one hit with six strikeouts through five innings and the Tigers broke on top 3-0.
They scratched out a run in the third. Catcher Jake Rogers walked, went to second on a single by Baddoo and smartly tagged and advanced to third on a fly out to center. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Schoop.
With one out in the fifth, Rogers unloaded on a 94-mph fastball and sent it 423 feet over the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center. That’s where the big boys hit them. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 106 mph.
Baddoo followed with a 421-foot shot, this one to center, that hopped into the shrubs for a ground rule double. Robbie Grossman singled him home.
The Mariners, though, got all that back with one prodigious swing. Seager, again. This time he made sure nobody would catch it. With two on in the sixth, he locked on to a 96-mph fastball from Mize and sent it 426 feet onto the Pepsi Porch in right field.
Mize finished the sixth at a career-high 99 pitches. It was his eighth quality start.
It stayed tied through eight innings, give Rogers some credit for that, too. Lefty Gregory Soto was summoned with two outs and a runner at first in the top of the eighth to face left-handed hitter Taylor Trammell.
Soto ignored the runner at first base, Jake Fraley, and he easily stole second. Soto’s second pitch went to the backstop. But Rogers quickly pounced on the long carom and whistled a throw to third to nail Fraley.
Rogers threw out Trammell trying to steal earlier in the game, as well.
Really tough break for Hill, Tigers first round pick in 2014, who was finally getting his first steady playing time in the big leagues. He made his fifth straight start in center after leading the Tigers to a win Tuesday night with a couple of run-saving catches, two hits, a stolen base and an RBI.
He got his usual good read on the ball and had Seager’s blast timed up as he went to the wall. But he never slowed down and crashed at full speed, just a few feet to the right of the visitor’s bullpen. His right shoulder seemed to absorb most of the contact and he was in obvious pain.
He walked off the field slowly, dejectedly, with manager AJ Hinch and head athletic trainer Doug Teter.
Later, center fielder Daz Cameron was pulled from the lineup at Triple-A Toledo, presumably on his way to Detroit. Which means Hill is likely headed to the injured list.