‘Needed that’: Riley Greene reaches four times in debut, Tigers finally break out

Detroit News

Detroit — You can call it the Riley Greene effect if you want, the Tigers don’t really care. This was just long overdue.

After a long string of zeros, the Tigers finally put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard, a lot of them. They scored a season-high 14 runs and ended a six-game losing streak, beating the Texas Rangers, 14-7, on Saturday before an announced crowd of 28,179 at Comerica Park.

“We needed that,” Spencer Torkelson said. “It’s definitely something to build off of. We’ve been grinding and we’ve kind of gone through it a little bit. It was nice to see hits fall and runs on the board. But this is only the beginning. We’re not satisfied with just the one win.

“We can celebrate this one for an hour or so and move on to tomorrow.”

Greene, the Tigers’ top prospect, made his MLB debut and dumped an opposite-field single to shallow left field in his first at-bat. He ended up reaching base four times — two opposite-field singles (both off left-handed pitchers) and two walks. He also scored twice.

“When I ran out there to center field I was a little nervous,” Greene said. “That’s going to happen. I just tried to breath through it and it worked. Once I got my first hit I was all good.”

BOX SCORE: Tigers 14, Rangers 7

The last Tigers player to reach base four times in his big-league debut was Scott Livingstone in 1991.

“Just being able to play at the highest level, it was awesome,” Greene said. “And to be here with this team, too, is really, really cool.”

Kids’ Day at Comerica Park is typically Sunday, but besides Greene, rookies Torkelson and Kody Clemens each had two hits. Clemens knocked in two runs, his first two in the big leagues.

Torkelson, who came in hitting under .200, clubbed a 397-foot triple to left center to trigger a five-run fourth inning.

“We were sitting on the dugout steps and I said to Riley, ‘Thanks for coming, you fixed Tork,’ ” manager AJ Hinch said, laughing.

Of course, it could’ve been the mustache, too. Torkelson is in the early stages of growing a mustache.

“I rake with a mustache,” he said, laughing. “I don’t think it’s the best look, but the boys needed something and I’ll do anything. I don’t care. I’ll do anything for a win and some hits.”

It’s been a while since the Tigers’ clubhouse was that light and lively after a game. They’d scored just one run in the previous 35 innings and had been shut out for the 10th time Friday.

Robbie Grossman set the tone by lining a home run over the fence in left field off Rangers lefty starter Taylor Hearn in the first inning. It was his first home run of the season, ending a 190 at-bat drought.

After Eric Haase doubled, Javier Báez bashed a hanging slider from Texas’ lefty starter Taylor Hearn and hit it into the Rangers’ bullpen in left center.

“Finally some good contact,” Báez said. “But you’ve got to keep that for every at-bat. I need to have that same feeling with a right-handed pitcher.”

The Tigers hadn’t hit multiple homers in a game since May 29. Báez, who now has four homers, hadn’t hit one since May 22.

“The entire lineup did something positive today and that was good,” Hinch said. “We know it’s in there. We had it before this year. This wasn’t the first breakout game. We’ve just had long stretches in between. But I am thankful for it.

“These guys needed it. Our staff needed it, our fans needed it. We needed a good game. This was a positive sign.”

Haase, who has started to swing the bat better this past week, had three hits including a three-run homer in the fourth. Grossman had three hits, as well. Willi Castro had a triple, single and two RBIs. Jonathan Schoop had two hits and an RBI.

Miguel Cabrera had two hits including his 604th career double. That moved him past Cal Ripken, Jr., into 16th place all-time.

“It was great to see that,” Báez said. “We’ve got a pretty good attitude here. A win like this, it opens it up for us to come back tomorrow and do it again and keep it going.”

Greene showed his entire offensive package, getting on base four times, getting a pair of hits off left-handed pitching, grinding out two walks and creating a run with his legs.

He led off the fifth inning with a walk, went to second on a single by Torkelson, to third on a fly out to right and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Clemens.

“I was just trying to have fun today,” Greene said. “That’s the name of the game in my opinion. Just have fun and everything else will take care of itself. Whether it’s a bad day or a good day, as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters.”

Greene’s plate discipline was a welcome sign.

“Yeah, I’m more impressed with the walks,” Hinch said. “The first hit is always memorable and we got the ball for him. The crowd was great, even during the introductions. Everyone’s been anticipating him coming up. It was really good to see him get that first hit.

“But the quality of at-bats was pretty awesome. It’s something we need and one of the reasons we are excited about him.”

cmccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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