Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch emerged from the dugout in the third inning.
He got in the face of home plate umpire Jansen Visconti and was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Robbie Grossman took a called strike on a pitch below the strike zone, then struck out on a questionable check swing.
Those calls sparked comments from Miguel Cabrera, who had a scheduled day off. Defending his players, Hinch was tossed for the 18th time in his career and the second time this season.
“When he points at our players in our dugout, I can’t stand for that,” Hinch said. “You cannot elevate things from the umpire. Jansen normally doesn’t do that, but he didn’t like the dugout. He should point at me and not point at my players.”
On his way back to the dugout, Hinch received an ovation from the fans. The Tigers scored with and without their skipper in Sunday’s 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Father’s Day in the finale of the four-game series at Comerica Park.
The Tigers (26-40) scored at least five runs in back-to-back games for the first time in 2022. Three runs scored in the first inning, followed by two in the fifth and two in the eighth.
“We’ve responded,” Hinch said. “I think it’s been an exceptional brand of baseball that I know everybody’s expected for a while. It’s nice to put a couple good games together.”
The offense posted eight hits and eight walks. Victor Reyes and Spencer Torkelson each recorded two hits, while Grossman and Riley Greene each drew a pair of free passes.
“It’s all contagious,” Torkelson said. “Everyone feeds off each other. It’s a good feeling going up to the plate and knowing my buddy got him, and it’s doable. When we’re all attacking, getting to the fastball and taking some good off-speed pitches, you know we’re locked in.”
FINDING OFFENSE: Tigers break out the bats and no team has needed it more
A three-run first inning put the Tigers in the driver’s seat, but the offense stalled against Rangers right-hander Dane Dunning until the fifth inning. At that point, the game was tied, 3-3.
The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs, thanks to Reyes (single), Grossman (walk) and Greene (walk).
“He’s going to be in control of his at-bats,” Hinch said of Greene. “Part of growing is seeing as many pitches as you can, different styles, different pitches. He saw a few more changeups that he hadn’t seen at this level yet.”
After Greene’s walk, Rangers manager Chris Woodward removed Dunning from his 13th start of the season. Right-handed reliever Dennis Santana replaced him for a bases-loaded matchup with Spencer Torkelson.
Torkelson delivered a bloop single into shallow center.
The 22-year-old rookie, hitting .190 in 60 games, made contact with a two-out, two-strike slider from Santana for a 5-3 Tigers lead.
“It’s not easy to sit on his 98 mph sinker and stay on that slider away,” Torkelson said. “I just stuck my nose in there, and once I got to two strikes, it was battle mode. I choked up, and I was going to get that ball in play no matter what.”
Torkelson singled for the second time in the eighth inning and scored on a fielder’s choice. Beating the tag from Rangers catcher Jonah Heim, Torkelson put the Tigers ahead 6-3.
The Tigers loaded the bases for Grossman with two outs. He singled to score Jonathan Schoop and make it 7-3, but the inning ended when Tucker Barnhart was thrown out at home plate.
Left-handed closer Gregory Soto completed a scoreless ninth inning to secure the four-run victory.
The Tigers fell behind by one run in the first inning, as Corey Seager blasted a one-out solo home run off right-hander Drew Hutchison. He hit a first-pitch slider over the left-center wall.
Similar to Saturday’s 14-7 win, the Tigers wasted no time taking the lead after an early one-run deficit. In the bottom half of the first, the first four batters reached safely.
Victor Reyes started the Tigers’ offense with a leadoff single, and Harold Castro was hit on his left leg, near his knee, to put a pair of runners on for Robbie Grossman.
The Tigers took a 3-1 lead on Grossman’s home run off Dunning’s first-pitch sinker. It marked Grossman’s second homer this season and his second in two days.
“It’s fun to win, especially at this level,” Grossman said. “It feels good personally to just do something to help the team win.”
After Grossman’s home run, Dunning settled in until the fifth inning. He walked Báez and Greene with two outs in the third, following Hinch’s ejection, but avoided damage when Torkelson flied out to left field.
Dunning allowed five runs on four hits and four walks with two strikeouts across 4⅔ innings, throwing 46 of 83 pitches for strikes. Hutchison also pitched 4⅔ innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks with one strikeout, tossing 30 of 54 pitches for strikes.
After the game, Hutchison was designated for assignment. All MLB teams are required to carry no more than 13 pitchers on their 26-man roster beginning Monday. The rule was planned for the start of the 2021 season, but delayed due to COVID-19 protocols over the past two years.
“All you can do is put your best foot forward,” Hutchison said. “I thought I’ve done that these last two starts.”
Hutch is clutch
As Dunning settled in, so did Hutchison.
He cruised through the second and third innings before the Rangers scored against him in the fourth and forced his exit in the fifth. Hutchison walked Seager to begin the fourth, and with two outs, issued a free pass to Heim.
Nathaniel Lowe kept things rolling with an RBI single, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 3-2. Hutchison retired the next batter to conclude the fourth, and he took down the first two batters in the fifth, as well.
“I thought I pitched well today and gave us a chance to win,” Hutchison said.
Bench coach George Lombard, acting as the manager in Hinch’s absence, allowed Hutchison to face Marcus Semien for the third time. Semien, though, sent a full-count fastball through the vacated right side of the infield with two outs.
As Seager stepped to the plate, Lombard replaced Hutchison with right-handed reliever Alex Lange.
Lange, arguably the Tigers’ best reliever this season, walked Seager on five pitches. With runners on the corners, Adolis Garcia singled on a line drive to left field to tie the game, 3-3. Lange then got Kole Calhoun to line to Reyes in right to end the inning.
Right-handed relievers Wily Peralta and Michael Fulmer pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings, respectively, giving way to left-hander Andrew Chafin in the eighth inning.
“This offense has really come alive the last few days and given the guys in the bullpen a boost,” Fulmer said. “Hutch did a great job for the five innings he threw, and everybody coming in after that did their job. That’s all we can ask. We’re just trying to come in, do our job, put up zeros and hopefully that carries to a win.”
Chafin struck out the side, sending down Garcia, Calhoun and Heim with swing-and-miss sliders. He threw 14 pitches; eight were sliders, with the Rangers whiffing at five of those.