Decked out in their Detroit Stars to celebrate Negro Leagues weekend, the debut of Riley Greene turned into a cathartic outburst of offense as the Tigers smashed the Texas Rangers by a score of 14-7 in front of a home crowd desperate for things to cheer about.
As was prophesized by, some random guy at Kroger’s yesterday who saw me in a Tigers’ hat, among others, Riley Greene’s arrival immediately seemed to make an impact on the Detroit Stars nee’ Tigers.
Rony Garcia allowed a solo shot to Adolis Garcia in the top of the first, but struck out Corey Seager and Kole Calhoun. Very Rony Garcia-like. However, the Tigers suddenly emerged from months of hitting slumber with their best performance of the season. They got started quickly in the bottom of the first.
After Willi Castro led off with a ground out, Robbie Grossman lashed his first home run of the season over the bullpen to tie things up. Miguel Cabrera flew out to right, but Eric Haase, facing a lefty and hitting better of late, ripped a double to left and Javier Báez jumped on a 1-1 breaking ball and crushed it to left for his fourth homer of the season.
That brought up Mr. Greene, who immediately delivered with a flared single to center for the first hit of his major league career. No tension building up, waiting for that first knock for Riley Greene. Got it out of the way first try, collected the ball, and was on his way, standing on first with a 1.000 batting average with his buddy Spencer Torkelson at the dish. Tork flew out, but the vibes felt altogether refreshed.
We talked in the comments yesterday about the difficulties of being a young top prospect like Torkelson, struggling mightily while a team of older veterans flails all around you. The mood has been bad, the struggles almost unbelievably bad. It can’t hurt Torkelson to have his close friend finally joining the team, and the power of this battle station hopefully a little closer to fully operational.
Garcia spun a quick second inning, and the Tigers got back to work in the bottom half. Schoop led off with a single to right, and Kody Clemens moved him to third with a single of his own. Unfortunately, Willi Castro grounded into a double play, for the second time in the game out at first by an inch at most. Still, Schoop scored from third and it was 4-1 Tigers. Robbie Grossman then was nicked by a pitch, but Miguel Cabrera struck out to end the inning.
Garcia got three outs in the air in the third, working quickly, and the Tigers were back up. Haase struck out and Báez grounded out, and Riley Greene stepped to the dish for his second major league at bat. This time he spanked a line drive the opposite way, but left fielder Zack Reks handled it to retire the Tigers and send it to the fourth.
The contact against Garcia continued to be disturbingly loud, and there were two line outs in the top of the fourth, but again, no baserunners. Garcia struck out Adolis Garcia for a little payback from the first, and Kole Calhoun lined out to left to send it to the bottom of the fourth.
This time, Spencer Torkelson was on it, drilling a ball to left for a double to lead off the inning. However, Schoop was called out on strikes and Clemens went down swinging on three pitches, leaving it up to Willi Castro to get the runner home. He came through, spanking a ground ball back through the box for a single as Torkelson raced home. 5-1 Tigers.
Robbie Grossman kept the inning going, lining a single to left off the tip of shortstop Corey Seager’s glove, and that brought Miggy back to the dish with runners on first and second. Cabrera took umbrage—seriously, when else do I get to use the word “umbrage” outside a Harry Potter convention—with home plate umpire Jerry Meals during the at bat over a first pitch changeup that just nipped the strike zone. The big man eventually won out, grounding a single into center field to score Castro.
Texas finally went to the bullpen, turning to Jesus Tinoco. It made sense to avoid letting Eric Haase see a lefty a third time, but it mattered not at all as the Tigers’ catcher crushed a three run shot to left field. 9-1 Tigers. Who are these people?
Javier Báez lined out to shortstop to end the inning, but it was a desperately needed party in Motown by this point. And now a few lyrics that felt appropriate on Riley Greene Day.
Winds in the east,
mist rolling in,
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin
With run support hitherto unheard of by a 2022 Tigers’ pitcher, Rony Garcia felt a great sense of calm and joy. He struck out Nathaniel Lowe to start the fifth. He then struck out Sam Huff whiffing at a nasty curveball. Brad Miller grounded out to end the inning, and Garcia was cruising.
Greene led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk, and things were once again sparked. Torkelson followed with a single through the left side of the infield. Greene advanced to third on a fly ball out to right off the bat of Schoop. Kody Clemens lifted a fly ball to left for the second out, and Greene tagged and scored from third. 10-1 Tigers.
They wanted more, and the Rangers were doing their Tigers impression in the outfield. Willi Castro lifted a deep fly ball almost to the warning track in right center, and right fielder Calhoun and center fielder Leody Taveras didn’t communicate. The ball dropped, Torkelson scored from first, and Castro cruised around the bases with a generously scored triple. 11-1 Tigers. Oh yes.
Robbie Grossman struck out to finally end the inning, and that was fine, because the party was raging by this point.
Garcia finally got into some trouble in the sixth. Taveras drilled a double to right to lead off the inning. Then Zach Reks reached on a line drive that Báez couldn’t quite squeeze. Semien grounded to Báez next, and the 6-4-3 double play cleaned things up, though Taveras scored to make it 11-2. Corey Seager then battled into a 3-2 count and got a fastball down the middle. He didn’t miss it, crushing it to right center field for his 14th homer of the year. 11-3 Tigers.
Adolis Garcia followed with a triple to center and scored on another Báez error, this one a throwing error that was actually charged to him. 11-4 Tigers. Garcia was coming undone, and his defense wasn’t doing him any favors. Finally Calhoun popped out to end the inning, and Garcia’s day was done.
Still pretty good for a guy better suited to middle relief. The strikeouts continue to come, but a tendency to miss over the middle too often still plagues him somewhat. 6.0 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 SO. 60 of 92 pitches for strikes.
Miguel Cabrera led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to left against new reliever Jose Leclerc, serving notice that the Tigers weren’t done with their offensive outburst. Haase, suddenly showing plenty of life, singled to left to move Cabrera to third. Báez popped out, and that brought Riley Greene to the dish. His magic does not require hitting the baseball. Instead, catcher Sam Huff, feeling the aura of power in the left-handed batter’s box, allowed a fastball to bounce right through the wickets to the backstop, scoring Cabrera. The next pitch clanged off his glove, getting Haase to third.
Finally, Greene drew his walk, leaving runners on first and third for Torkelson. Unfortunately, Tork popped out to first, and so Schoop was up with the last chance to cash in the baserunners.
He came through, drilling a ground ball back up the middle for a single to score Haase and move Greene to second. All the batted ball luck was tilting the Tigers way too. Kody Clemens took advantage, lifting a fly ball into the left field corner that bounced just fair and then into the seats for an automatic double, scoring Greene and allowing Schoop to reach third.
14-4 Tigers, their highest total of runs in a game this year, beating the 13 they dropped on Colorado on April 23rd. Willi Castro finally popped out after an eight pitch battle with Leclerc, and that sent us to the seventh in a great mood.
Andrew Chafin took over from Garcia in the seventh and he struck out the side. The Tigers went quietly after a leadoff single from Grossman as well, and we didn’t mind a bit.
Will Vest took over in the eighth and allowed a two out single before striking out Corey Seager swinging. In the bottom half, we got one more look at why the Tigers are going to be better for having Riley Greene. In an 0-2 count, Greene fouled off a tough cutter down, and then spanked a fastball the opposite way for a line drive single to lead off the inning.
Torkelson lined out to center, Greene took second on a wild pitch, but Schoop grounded out and Kody Clemens struck out to end the inning. But no matter. This one was long over, and A.J. Hinch turned it over to Jason Foley in the ninth.
Adolis Garcia singled to lead off, and it was another that ticked off Báez’s glove on a rough defensive day for the Tigers’ shortstop. Foley walked Kole Calhoun, and Nathaniel Lowe singled in Garcia. That brought Chris Fetter out for a chat, but it didn’t help as San Huff singled in Calhoun. There were still no outs in the inning, and Foley was apparently taking it upon himself to remind everyone that this is still the 2022 Detroit Tigers. Brad Miller followed with yet another single, and finally Taveras grounded into a double play, scoring the run from third but finally giving Foley two badly needed outs. Finally, Zach Reks grounded out, bringing an ugly ninth inning to its conclusion. 14-7 Tigers.
We’ll put aside how this ended, because we need to have fun. But the awful defense from Báez and weak bullpen performances of late continue to serve notice that this team has a ton of work ahead to turn things around.
Riley Greene’s first game? 2 for 3, with two runs scored, two walks, no strikeouts. Let’s go!
Notes and Reactions
Yeah that’s a keeper.
Congratulations to Riley Greene on his first Major League hit!
Baseball has been collected, authenticated by MLB, and will be presented to Greene after the game. pic.twitter.com/C6qcPZlsD1
— Detroit Tigers Authentics (@DETAuthentics) June 18, 2022
According to baseball-reference, Riley Greene is first MLB player to reach base safely 4 times in his debut since O’s Cedric Mullins on 8/10/2018. First Tiger to do it since Scott Livingstone on 7/19/1991. https://t.co/KDpphwAD1T
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 18, 2022
Riley Greene is the 5th player in Tigers history to reach base safely 4+ times in their MLB debut
Scott Livingstone (1991)
Bill Bean (1987)
Fred Haney (1922)
Frank Dillon (1901)
— Austin Drake (@austin_drake) June 18, 2022
We love the Detroit Stars tributes. It was cool to see bits of Little League action being played on the field at the Corner Ballpark at Michigan and Trumbull too.