Detroit 6, Minnesota 5: Haase’s late slam sets up magical win

Bless You Boys

This entire story was written. Done. Ready to publish and consume.

Then it wasn’t — and instead of this recap being about a drab loss, it’s about the Detroit Tigers earning perhaps their gutsiest victory of the season, beating the Minnesota Twins 6-5 in 11 innings.

After Jonathan Schoop was retired to lead off the ninth inning, the Twins’ win probability was 99.5%.

But then Robbie Grossman singled, Miguel Cabrera doubled and Jeimer Candelario walked ahead of Eric Haase. Even then,, the Twins were afforded a 91.9% chance to win.

On the eighth pitch of his at bat, Eric Haase did this.

And just like that, we were all tied up.

How about those Tigers?

The game was never close before the ninth inning. RHP Tyler Alexander, who Detroit manager A.J. Hinch hopes to stretch from merely an opener to a full-fledged starter, surrendered a grand slam of his own in the top of the first inning when Mitch Garver cleared the bases before an out was even recorded.

MLBTV even had the audacity to show me a clip of the David Ortiz grand slam from the 2013 ALCS right after. Not cool, guys.

The Tigers got a run back when Twins-bust-turned-Tiger-star Akil Baddoo did what Akil Baddoes (sorry): he launched a home run nearly 400 feet into the left-center field concourse. Listen closely to to hear Jack Morris muttered that he “just missed it.”

The three-run deficit lasted just an inning, though. Willians “La Tortuga” Austudillo hit a solo shot of his own in the fourth off Alexander to bump Minnesota’s lead back to four. Detroit thought they inched closer right after when Haase launched a missile toward the foul pole in right field, but the call on the field ruled it foul. It stayed that way after review, despite noted geniuses Matt Shepard and Morris insisting it was, indeed, a fair ball.

Michael Fulmer took over for his first in-game action since June 26 in the fifth inning after suffering a cervical spine strain. “Big Mike” struck Jorge Polanco out, surrendered a harmless bloop single and induced a double-play to get out of a clean inning. Even more encouraging is the fact that his fastball reached 95.6 MPH according to Baseball Savant.

Erasmo Ramirez replaced Fulmer and delivered his best outing of the season, scattering just two baserunners across three scoreless innings.

Then the Tigers loaded the bases for Haase in the ninth inning — you know what happens next.

Kyle Funkhouser worked through some traffic in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings for the second consecutive night.

Detroit failed to score Victor Reyes in the top of the 10th before Minnesota put together an all-too familiar scenario in the bottom: they loaded the bases. But instead of allowing yet a third salami, relief pitcher Jose Cisnero overpowered Max Kepler and Miguel Sano with fastballs to keep the deadlock in place.

Enter Miguel Cabrera, whose single in the 11th inning gave Detroit their first lead of the night, scoring Jonathan Schoop. With Fulmer, Funkhouser and Cisnero already used and Gregory Soto fresh off throwing 42 pitches the previous night, Hinch turned to Daniel Norris to lock the game down.

The southpaw got three soft ground balls to end the game and earn his first career save.

While Haase’s grand slam will get all the headlines, the Detroit bullpen threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out seven.

The loss snaps a four-game losing streak and eight-game losing streak away from home. It evens the midweek series between the teams with the rubber match coming on Wednesday afternoon at 1:10 p.m.

Wily Peralta will take the mound opposite LHP J.A. Happ, who has already seen Detroit three times this season. The Tigers have bruised him up for a 5.50 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in 18 innings.

Conversely, Peralta has seen Minnesota twice to little resistance: the Twins have scratched across just one run in 12 innings off the veteran.

Notably:

  • Jonathan Schoop went 0-for-5, ending his career-long 16-game hitting streak.
  • With a ninth inning double, Miguel Cabrera tied Barry Bonds on the all-time hits leaderboard with 2,935. His single in the 11th broke that tie, putting him in sole possession of 36th place all-time.
  • Before Haase’s grand slam, the Tigers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
  • Kenta Maeda scored the winning run on Monday, then threw 6 13 innings on Tuesday, allowing just one run. Eat your heart out, Shohei Ohtani.
  • With Haase’s ninth inning slam, the Tigers became just the fourth team since 2000 to have three rookies hit grand slams in one season (Baddoo, Rogers, Haase).
  • Tuesday’s game was the first in MLB history in which opposing catchers hit grand slams.
  • Humans and the Tyrannosaurus Rex are closer on the world’s timeline than the T. Rex and Stegosaurus.

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