Riley Greene gets first hit, Detroit Tigers crush Texas Rangers, 14-7, with power display

Detroit Free Press

Spencer Torkelson said Riley Greene’s promotion to the big leagues might be the spark the Detroit Tigers needed.

It’s only one game, and the Tigers still have their issues — but so far, so good on that theory.

Greene got his first major-league hit in his first at-bat on a bloop single into left in the first inning. The hit brought the Comerica Park crowd to its feet, where it stayed frequently Saturday afternoon.

It was the fourth hit of the inning — an offensive explosion by this year’s standards — following Robbie Grossman’s first home run of the season and Javier Báez’s first homer long ball since May 22.

The Tigers set a season high for runs, with three homers after entering Saturday with just two all month; all nine starters recorded a hit by the fourth inning as the bats powered the Tigers to a 14-7 win over the Texas Rangers.

It ended a six-game losing streak and improved their record to 25-40.

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“Our team needed it, our staff needed it, our fans needed it,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “I mean we needed to have a good game and we did, so that was exciting.”

Greene finished 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.

In his second at-bat, Greene hit a 90 mph line drive to left on a 1-1 fastball, but it was directly at Zach Reks for an out.

The rookie worked a walk in the fifth after falling behind 0-2 and walked again in the sixth, this time on five pitches, to reach base for the third time.

“Walks are a lot to me,” Greene said. “Being able to be on base as many times as I can, being able to spit on those pitches in the dirt, that means I feel good about myself and I’m seeing the ball.

“So yeah, walks are a big part of what I’m trying to do.”

His final at-bat came in the eighth, when he fell behind 0-2 for the second time.

In another lefty-on-lefty matchup, Greene stayed with the pitch and hit a single the other way for his second hit and fourth time on base.

Greene said he has had a lot to process the past 24 hours.

He only got a chance to exchange a few quick words with his family after the game before going into the clubhouse, but that he’s looking forward to sitting down with them at dinner and soaking it all in.

“When I ran out to center field, I was a little nervous, but I just tried to breathe through it,” Greene said. “Once I got my first hit I was all good after that. I guarantee my mom was emotional.”

The bats go boom

Detroit had scored just one run in its past 35 innings and had not scored on a hit since Monday — their two runs generated since came on sacrifice flies. In all, over the previous seven games, the Tigers had scored just 10 runs.

Adolis Garcia’s solo homer off Rony García in the top of the first presented a bleak outlook: The Tigers entered Saturday 7-32 when allowing the first run.

Grossman’s long ball in the first tied things quickly. That was followed by a two-out Eric Haase double and a 386-foot Báez blast, hit at 105.8 mph, that made it 3-1.

“Finally, you know, good contact,” Báez said. “We did have a good approach (today) … I’m just working on my timing and seeing the ball right now.”

Detroit didn’t look back. After Jonathan Schoop and Kody Clemens led off the second with back-to-back singles, Willi Castro grounded into a double play to make it 4-1.

In the fourth, the Tigers finally found some long-awaited clutch hitting. After Torkelson led off with a 400-foot double to left-center — his second extra-base hit of June — consecutive strikeouts suggested he was about to be stranded.

Instead, Castro singled to make it 5-1, followed by a Grossman line drive single to left. Cabrera then laced a two-run single up the box to plate Castro and make it 6-1, ending the day for Rangers starter Taylor Hearn.

Texas’ bullpen didn’t fare any better.

On his third pitch, Jesus Tinoco was greeted by Haase, who turned on a sinker for a three-run laser to the left-field seats at 109.8 mph, making it 9-1.

“I think he swung the bat pretty well the other day, he had a good live BP session against Michael (Pineda), he comes out I put him in the four hole and he has some good swings,” Hinch said. “I mean of course it’s in there. You don’t hit 20 homers and have it not be in there.

“He just needs to get more at-bats. I’ve said that for three or four weeks now, and he’s going to do that, I’m committed to it, he will DH tomorrow.”

After Clemens’ sacrifice fly — his first career RBI — scored Greene, every Tigers starter had scored a run or driven in a run.

A Castro triple to the right-center gap made it 11-1 to end the fifth.

The Tigers weren’t done. Cabrera led off the sixth with a double — the 604th of his career and 421st with the Tigers, which moved him past Cal Ripken Jr. into 16th on MLB’s list and broke a tie with Lou Whitaker for fifth in Tigers history — then advanced to third on a Haase single, his third hit of the game.

He scored on a wild pitch to make it 12-4.

With two outs, Schoop singled up the middle to plate Haase, and a Clemens ground-rule double to left scored Greene. The 14th run was the most scored by the Tigers this year, topping their 13 on April 23 — in the game in which Cabrera picked up hit No. 3,000.

Eight Tigers had multiple hits in the game, the most in a game for the franchise since September 2011. That included Torkelson, who was 4-for-44 this month and hadn’t had a multi-hit game since May 30.

“(Riley) already fixed him, didn’t you see Tork today?” Hinch joked. “I said it on the steps to him, I’m like, ‘Riley, thanks for coming, you fixed Tork. Make sure you stay close to each other on the road trip. We’re going to have separate rooms but you guys hang out with each other.’ ”

Grossman had his first three-hit day since April 28.

Garcia turns in quality start

García picked up his first win of the season, though a struggle in the sixth left him with three earned runs allowed.

After allowing García’s blast in the first, he went into cruise control. García didn’t allow another runner until the sixth, retiring 13 straight hitters and 15 of the game’s first 16, with five strikeouts.

He ran into trouble in the sixth. After giving up a leadoff double to Leody Tavares, a Zach Reks line drive hit off Báez’s glove and trickled into centerfield. Garcia got Marcus Semien to hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but the Rangers’ second run scored.

Corey Seager followed with a 414-foot home run into the right-center seats and Garcia scored on a “Little League home run” — a triple to left-center and a run scored on a throwing error from Báez trying to nab him at third.

In the end, it was Garcia’s first quality start of the year, allowing three earned runs (four in all) over six innings on five hits, no walks and five strikeouts.

“I extended him further than I have this entire stretch because of the way the score was and to save bullets in the bullpen,” Hiinch said. “I feel for him, he got dinged up a bit at the end, but he was pretty good.

“I’m so proud of our pitching staff…you know you give up something early to be able to settle back down is a maturation process, and I think I saw that again today.”

Garcia threw 92 pitches, 60 strikes, and generated nine swings and misses (five on his fastball and four on his curveball).

Andrew Chafin rebounded from a rough Monday  appearance by striking out Nathaniel Lowe, Sam Huff and Brad Miller in order — slider swinging, fastball looking, slider swinging, respectively — on 15 pitches in the seventh.

Will Vest cleaned up the eighth inning, working around a two-out single by Charlie Culberson and finishing with a strikeout of Seager on an elevated fastball.

Jason Foley got roughed up in the ninth, allowing three runs as the first five batters reached, sandwiched around a mound visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter.

Foley finally ended things with a run-scoring double play and a groundout to second to end the game.

Contact Tony Garcia at Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.

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