Eric Haase made the difference with his sixth home run of the year that came in a rather dramatic scenario. Of course, the two-run blast doesn’t mean much if Rony Garcia doesn’t give a quality start through five innings of work.
Garcia started out strong, winning a 10-pitch battle against Mike Yastrzemski, but Evan Longoria took him deep to give the Giants a lead before the end of the first. A one-run lead isn’t the end of the world, but the Tigers can’t afford to get behind early, especially after missing out on a chance to score early.
Robbie Grossman led the game off with a line-drive double to left field that came off that bat at 104.7 mph, but San Francisco’s starter Alex Wood stranded him after putting Javier Báez, Miguel Cabrera and Riley Greene down in order. He’d cruise through the order the first time around, but the second time through was a different story.
Javy and Miggy made up for things in the fourth. Detroit’s $140 million shortstop legged out a triple that would’ve been a double had it been played well by LaMonte Wade Jr., and Miggy did his job by delivering a long fly ball to center field that easily scored Baez. Greene tried to keep things going, but things were left at a draw heading into the bottom of the fourth.
The dynamic duo got things going again in the sixth with a pair of singles to start the inning. Riley Greene grounded into a double play, but Eric Haase came through with a 2-run homer after Wood talked Gabe Kapler into letting him stay out get out of the inning. That must have been a long walk back to the mound for both men. Tyler Rogers needed just one pitch to get the Giants back in the dugout. Salt, meet wound.
With a two-run lead in place, A.J. Hinch brought in Andrew Chafin to pitch the sixth in relief of Garcia. A former Rule 5 pick, Garcia was the true San Francisco Treat on Wednesday outperforming Wood, a second-round pick out of the college baseball’s strongest conference. Aside from giving up the longball to Longo, he kept the Giants quiet through five innings and gave up just the one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four and earning the win.
Chafin made quick work of Austin Slater, striking him out on a four-pitch sequence that fooled him inside. He lost Brandon Belt to a base on balls but quickly induced a double-play to get end the inning. Jonathan Schoop and Baez deserve a Web Gem nomination for that one. Do they still do those?
Alex Lange was less effective in the seventh. He gave up a leadoff single to Tommy La Stella, walked Wilmer Flores and gave up a bloop hit to Wade that loaded the bases with just one out. Yastrzemski worked a 3-0 count but ended up beating out a double-play ball to second base by the slimmest of margins. Lange thought he was out and motioned for a challenge but Hinch denied the request. A run scored on the play cutting the lead down to just one.
Michael Fulmer came in needing just one out to get out of the inning with the lead, but that’s easier said than done in the pros. Longoria walked to once again load the bases, but Fulmer dialed in to strike out Slater on three pitches. He returned for the eighth and held things down without too much trouble.
Gregory Soto came in pumping 100 mph and took the Giants down 1-2-3 in the ninth to secure the win and his 15th save of the season.
It wasn’t the easiest road trip for the Tigers, but progress is being made. Baez, Cabrera and Greene could be a fun trio to watch in the middle of the lineup, and the pitching staff is figuring things out after suffering so many injuries. There are still some big holes in the lineup and rotation, but the product has been a much better watch in recent weeks.
Detroit is back at home on Friday to kick off a seven-game homestand against a pair of AL Central foes.