Detroit — Sitting in the dugout hours before the game, manager AJ Hinch was asked what he liked best about rookie Riley Greene so far. Hinch didn’t miss a beat.
“One hundred miles per hour off the bat,” he said.
Why wouldn’t he. Greene had two baseballs fly off his bat Tuesday night with exit velocities better than 100 mph and accounted for three runs, helping the Tigers beat the Cleveland Guardians for the third time in two nights, 11-4, at Comerica Park.
Dating back to the series in May, the Tigers have won four straight games against Cleveland. That hasn’t happened since they won seven straight between Sept. 4, 2014 and April 12, 2015.
Greene torched a 2-1 cutter from Guardians starter Cal Quantrill, sending it into the right-field corner for an RBI double in the Tigers’ four-run second inning. That ball left his bat at 109.8 mph, topping his previous hardest-hit ball (109.7).
In the fifth against reliever Nick Sandlin, he drove one 371 feet into the gap in left-center, another double, this time scoring two runs. The exit velocity on that one, 101.4 mph.
Greene has reached base in 15 of his first 16 games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no Tigers hitter has done that since Quintin Berry in 2012. Greene has gotten hits in all but four of those 16 games.
Speaking of 100-mph off the bat, catcher Eric Haase continued his power surge, too. Getting a rare start against a right-handed pitcher, Haase scalded a 2-0 cutter from Quantrill in the fourth inning, sending it into the seats in right-center field, an opposite-field laser.
The two-run homer, which put the Tigers up 6-2, was Haase’s seventh, tying him with Javier Báez for the team lead. It was his fourth in his last seven games and fifth since June 18.
Haase lined a double off the wall in right-center in the sixth, too, triggering a three-run inning that put the Tigers up 11-2.
Victor Reyes got into the fray, too. He had three singles, knocked in three runs and scored twice.
Not to be overlooked, Miguel Cabrera, his batting average again poking above .300, produced his eighth three-hit game of the season. He also walked, knocked in a run and scored twice.
The Tigers put eight balls in play with exit velocities of 100 mph or better.
The Guardians finished the game with catcher Sandy Leon pitching the seventh and eighth innings. Throwing sliders between 75 and 79 mph, he dispatched all six Tigers hitters he faced.
Drew Hutchison, signed and released three times in the last two seasons by the Tigers and signed for a fourth time on June 29, pitched five strong innings, allowing only one earned run and leaving with a 6-2 lead.
The Tigers, though, may have lost the services of one of their reliable relievers. Wily Peralta left the game in the eighth inning with a left hamstring spasm. He pitched a scoreless seventh and retired Amed Rosario to lead off the eighth, hobbling off the mound after his final pitch.
The Tigers used utility man Harold Castro, who started the game at shortstop, to pitch the ninth.