DETROIT — Jake Rogers and Jake Fraley have a rivalry going back to their college days at Tulane and LSU, respectively.
“Old Jake,” Rogers said with a laugh after Fraley’s game-saving catch for the Mariners on Wednesday night.
So maybe it’s fitting that one day after Fraley was the hero at Comerica Park, Rogers took the role, partly at Fraley’s expense. It wasn’t just his second home run in as many games, or his first Major League triple, but his all-around play that helped lift the Tigers to an 8-3 win on Thursday afternoon in the rubber match of their three-game series. In the process, Rogers continued to make his case that he’s ready to stick in the big leagues.
Both Rogers and Eric Haase began the season at Triple-A Toledo but were promoted out of necessity after injuries sidelined their catching duo of Wilson Ramos and Grayson Greiner. Haase has been on a hitting tear with eight home runs, but Rogers has quietly made his case that he’s more than the defensive half of this catching platoon, having progressed from his Minor League reputation as an inconsistent hitter with an all-or-nothing swing.
After Rogers crushed a 423-foot home run over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field late Wednesday night, his follow-up was a 413-foot loft shot with a 36-degree launch angle right over Fraley’s head in left field and into the seats behind the bullpens. It completed a seven-pitch battle in which Rogers declined to chase a 2-2 fastball up and out of the strike zone and was ready for a full-count slider down and in, on which he could extend his swing.