Detroit — Before Thursday night’s game, Jonathan Schoop said he and Miguel Cabrera, who sat out Wednesday’s 17-run offensive outburst in Minnesota, would deliver everything they would have done had they played the day before.
Apparently, Schoop was not joking.
Schoop provided the Tigers’ first run in the first inning with an RBI single and scored two runs while Cabrera slammed two home runs — Nos. 496 and 497 — as the Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-2, at Comerica Park.
The Tigers have won 10 straight at home for the first time since winning 10 in a row from July 14-Aug. 15, 2013.
Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins has been one of the most exciting players in baseball this season and showed why, leading off the game with a triple to right-center field.
Tigers starter Casey Mize managed to get out of trouble as Trey Mancini’s fielder’s choice took him out and Ramón Urías grounded out to end the inning.
“The first inning I think changed the course of the game entirely with Casey being able to execute a comebacker with the infield in and the leadoff triple,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We talked about Mullins before the game, getting him on third and then keeping him off of home plate and getting him out in that rundown. Obviously Casey’s one of the best defending pitchers in the league.”
The Orioles have been good at deterring opponents’ running game, but the first inning was not a fine example.
Akil Baddoo, who had worked a walk, was at first base when starter Alexander Wells threw over, but the throw sailed wildly into right field, allowing the speedy Baddoo to reach third easily.
Schoop singled to left to score Baddoo for a 1-0 lead.
Schoop advanced to third on Cabrera’s base hit, the 2,937th of his career, and scored on Eric Haase’s sacrifice fly.
Mize retired the Orioles on just five pitches in the third inning.
“It feels good,” Mize said. “At school my Auburn coach, he always called it ‘autopilot.’ So that’s what it feels like to me. It’s something that I use a lot. Just execution at a high level. They were swinging, they were swinging the bat a lot. I wasn’t able to get to many two-strike counts, wasn’t able to pitch that deep into counts because they were swinging the bats.
“They weren’t shying away from swinging the bats early so that kind of played into our hands tonight. We were able to get some quick outs and get our guys back in the dugout.”
In the bottom of the third, Schoop doubled and scored on Haase’s single, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Cabrera, on the same page as Schoop about creating offense, hit his 496th career home run and ninth of the season, off Wells in the fifth.
The sky darkened and while rain fell on parts of metro Detroit, it spared Comerica Park.
Derek Hill walked in the sixth inning and then decided to test the Orioles, whose catchers came into the game ranked first in caught stealing percentage at 40.4%. Unfortunately for Hill, those odds stayed on Baltimore’s side as catcher Austin Wynns threw him out.
Ryan McKenna singled in the seventh, advanced to third on Maikel Franco’s base hit and scored on Baddoo’s throwing error to cut Detroit’s lead to 4-1. Mize then got Wynns to ground into a force out to end the threat.
With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Cabrera hit his second home run of the game, 10th of the season and 497th of his career off reliever Adam Plutko.
It marked Cabrera’s 43rd career multi-homer game and second this season. He also hit two on May 21 at Kansas City.
Mize was just six when Cabrera made his big-league debut and he watched the slugger do his thing for years before playing with him. Mize knows he is witnessing history.
“Pretty surreal,” Mize said. “I’m obviously a huge baseball fan and was definitely watching Miggy a ton growing up. Just the evolution in his game. He’s always been able to go backside hitting homers but for him to still be able to do that and just driving balls a really long way, it’s so impressive to see. It’s just a joy to be around in the clubhouse and in the dugout. He’s a spark plug for our team. Whenever he gets rolling like that, I don’t know if you can stop us because everybody’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, Miggy, he’s doing his thing so we gotta stick with him.’ He’s definitely our leader.
“It’s pretty cool for me to see it in person. It’s not something I thought I would be able to do as a kid but it’s cool that I’m here experiencing it.”
Of Cabrera’s 43 multi-homer games, 34 have come with the Tigers, which extends his franchise record.
“It’s wild, it’s amazing,” Schoop said before the game when asked about the Miggy Milestones sign on top of the left-field wall. “He’s going to be a Hall of Famer for a reason. He’s one of the best hitters that I ever played with, that I’ve ever seen. Not only for me but for you guys, too. You see those numbers, it’s special. It’s really special. I’m lucky enough to play with one guy like that.”
Meanwhile, Mize was magnificent, finally released from the tether of limited innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits while walking two and striking out two in seven innings.
“The innings to me are not that big a deal when they’re as efficient as they are,” Hinch said. “His innings tonight were not the same as some of his tougher starts earlier in the season where he was rolling out 18-19, 22 pitches. So inning totals can vary on how far we were gonna stretch him on his pitch count.”
It was Mize’s longest outing since going six innings on June 26 against the Houston Astros.
Jose Cisnero, who replaced Mize, did not have his best control, walking three and allowing the Orioles’ second run to score on a wild pitch.
Michael Fulmer pitched the ninth and struck out the side.
“He was electric,” Hinch said. “It’s so good to have him back and to see him come in like that. He really wanted to pitch in that game yesterday that was chaos, we held him back just to be diligent with our planning with him of going every other day for now. He showed tonight he can be really effective. He’s incredible. Those are obviously three big at-bats to end the game.”
Dana Wakiji is a freelance writer.