Tigers 4, Royals 3: Riley Greene walks it off with first career homer

Bless You Boys

True baseball fans don’t leave until the game is over. Forget about beating traffic or making a flight for the out-of-towners, it ain’t over until it’s over. Riley Greene proved that tonight with his first (and I’m sure there will be many more) home run that came with one out in a tie ballgame in the bottom of the ninth.

It’s the 23rd time that Greene has reached base in just 12 career games at the major-league level, and we’ve yet to find anything he can’t do well. That includes giving the response of a seasoned veteran in his post-game interview by giving props to Victor Reyes who delivered the game-tying home run just one at-bat prior.

Detroit trailed from the very beginning of the game, and things weren’t going well late. Reyes snuck a ball over the right-field fence and appeared to push things into extras, but Mr. Greene wanted his first fly to be a dramatic one. He was involved in just about every run the Tigers scored today, and he saved the best for last. Detroit wins, 4-3.

Things could have been a lot worse early on had Detroit’s starter, Beau Brieske, not settled down after struggling through the first inning. The Royals put up a quick two-spot on him thanks to a one-out double from Hunter Dozier, but Brieske answered with a 1-2-3 inning in the second. After failing to control his pitches early, the rookie started drawing more soft contact and bounced back.

It probably helped that Greene led the bottom of the first off with a triple, scoring and cutting the lead to one run two pitches later on a Javier Báez sacrifice fly. Miggy walked to keep things going, but Eric Haase bounced into a double pla… hold up, he was safe. After a short review, the Tigers retook the field and Willi Castro moved things along with a single. Jonathan Schoop couldn’t tie it up, though, and struck out swinging. (Cue the sad trumpet noises). Schoop is really struggling right now and today couldn’t have helped his mental. He struck out three times, and a few days off might do him some good at this point.

Neither team threatened in the second or third innings despite each team getting a man on second base. Nothing against Kris Bubic, but he’s not the kind of starter that should be consistently baffling a team that’s supposed to be exiting the rebuild stages.

Brieske stumbled again in the fourth, giving up three singles to the first four batters of the inning. Mercifully, Andrew Benintendi flew out and Bobby Witt Jr. whiffed at strike three to end the inning, and, like clockwork, Greene got things going again to back his starting pitcher up. Okay… it might have taken an inning to respond, but we can’t have Greene hitting more than once in the order (I’m sure A.J. Hinch has looked into it already).

After Greene drew a walk on six pitches, Baez struck out and shouted expletives at himself as he returned to the dugout. Patience, Javy, patience. Miggy singled for hit No. 3,059, and Eric Haase drove in Greene to once again cut the Royals’ lead to one run. That was the end of Bubic’s night. The odds were stacked against Brieske to outdo Bubic after that first inning, but the kid pulled it off. That has to feel nice after lasting just 3 23 inning against his hometown team of Arizona on Sunday.

Willi Castro almost extended the inning with a ground ball up the middle that seemed destined to reach the outfield, but Bobby Witt Jr. laid out and rocketed the ball to first on one knee behind second base. Wow. Game-saving play right there.

Brieske came back out for the sixth and sat the Royals down in order for the second-straight inning and third time since that ugly first. Unfortunately, the Tigers just couldn’t seem to get that tying run across the plate. Amir Garrett, who came in after Jose Cuas hit Jeimer Candelario with a pitch, got pinch-hitter Spencer Torkelson to pop out for out No. 2 of the inning. He thought he was out of the inning on a slider that was inside to Victory Reyes, but home plate umpire CB Bucknor correctly called it a ball. Garrett chirped at Bucknor after that and it must have worked because Riley Greene was called out on strike on a ball that was below the zone.

Garrett kept talking after the pitch and Baez came back at him from the dugout, waving him off as if to say “you don’t even know that you just got a call.” The exchange continued as Baez took the field but nothing serious came of it.

Both bullpens then settled in until the eventful final frame. The Royals went down in order for the rest of the night against Alex Lange, Andrew Chafin and Joe Jiménez, while the Tigers struggled to hit Wyatt Mills and Joel Payamps in the seventh and eighth.

Payamps returned for the ninth, and that turned out to be a mistake. Torkelson, who stayed in the game for Kody Clemens at first base, struck out to start the inning, but Victor Reyes and Greene finished it off with back-to-back jacks.

What a way to win things. That Riley Green kid might really be something special.

The Tigers look to take the rubber match against the Royals tomorrow at 12:05 p.m.

The two newest members of the Detroit Pistons roster were at Comerica Park on Saturday to throw out the first pitch. First-round selection and fifth-overall pick Jaden Ivey might be familiar to some Tigers fans from his time in the Big Ten with Purdue. He’s expected to team up with Cade Cunningham in the Pistons’ backcourt for years to come.

Six-foot-11-inch Jalen Duren was also on the field for the first pitch. He’ll be the youngest player in the NBA this year after reclassifying from the recruiting class of 2021 to 2022 and spending just one year at Memphis. Detroit traded for the rights to Charlotte’s pick on draft night, securing the Pistons two top-15 selections.

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