Detroit — A starting pitcher? Optional. Especially when your hitters are knocking baseballs around the park.
The Tigers filled injured starter Spencer Turnbull’s spot in the rotation with a convoy of relievers Thursday and cushioned any potential fallout from that with three home runs, taking the game and the series from the Mariners, 8-3, before a matinee crowd of 9,290 at Comerica Park.
Jonathan Schoop, Jake Rogers and Robbie Grossman all went deep for the Tigers, easing the burden on the six relief pitchers who covered the nine innings.
Lefty Tyler Alexander started and yielded only a solo home run to Mariners slugger Mitch Haniger — the first of two homers for him. Pitching for just the third time this month, Alexander threw 56 pitches in 2⅔ innings, that’s four more than he’d thrown in his previous four outings combined.
► Bryan Garcia, who ended the third inning one pitch but yielded a run in a messy fourth.
► Rookie Jason Foley, making his Comerica Park debut, earned his first big-league strikeout (J.P Crawford) and also gave up his first big-league dinger (Haniger) in two innings.
► Joe Jimenez, bouncing back after a rough outing on Tuesday, pitched a clean seventh.
► Alex Lange, just recalled from Triple-A Toledo before the game, gave up a single and walk but struck out two in a scoreless eighth. Lange was sent down on May 16 after allowing 11 earned runs in 13⅓ innings over 15 outings.
► Gregory Soto finished it out, dispatching three straight left-handed hitters in the ninth.
Rogers continues to flex his muscle at the plate. After hitting a 423-foot home run to right-center on Wednesday night, he launched a 413-foot moon shot into the left-field seats in the second inning Thursday. He also created another run with his legs in the fourth.
Rogers reached on an error by second baseman Donovan Walton, which sent Niko Goodrum around to third base with no outs. Willi Castro’s fly ball to left field was easily deep enough to score Goodrum, but Rogers boldly tagged and beat the throw at second base.
He scored on a single by Grossman and put the Tigers up 5-2 at the time.
He wasn’t done. In the seventh, after Goodrum got picked off first with a runner at third and one out, Rogers rescued the inning with a 420-foot missile to the base of the wall in center field.
It was his first career triple.
In the last two games, Rogers is 3-for-6, with two homers, a triple, four runs scored and four runs driven in.
The Tigers hitters kept steady heat on Mariners lefty starter Justus Sheffield. Schoop started the scoring with his 10th home run of the season, a solo shot in the first. Miguel Cabrera followed with a double to left and scored on a single by Isaac Paredes.
Grossman hit a two-run homer in the sixth against former Michigan State pitcher Anthony Misiewicz.