Detroit Tigers tie it in ninth, but Gregory Soto struggles in 10th for 6-4 loss to Padres

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers hoped to gain momentum after scoring 12 runs in Monday’s series opener, but San Diego Padres right-hander Mike Clevinger sucked the life out of MLB’s worst offense on Tuesday.

In the seventh inning, Jeimer Candelario finally snapped Clevinger’s dominance.

The 28-year-old flexed his muscles and pumped up his teammates in the dugout while rounding third base. He launched a two-run home run off Clevinger’s cutter to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.

“Life is injected into the dugout and into the stadium,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We gave ourselves every opportunity to win. … With how the offense has been over the last three or four months, it’s really easy to lay down. Our guys hung in there and gave it a run.”

The Tigers didn’t have additional runs to show for their improved plate appearances until Riley Greene’s game-tying RBI single with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning off left-hander Taylor Rogers.

“I had two strikes, and I just prepared to die,” Greene said.

But the Tigers lost, 6-4, in 10 innings.

Detroit returned to 20 games under .500, at 39-59, and remains in last place of the American League Central. The Padres scored three runs in the top of the 10th, and the Tigers scored once against righty reliever Nick Martinez on Candelario’s RBI double.

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Facing Rogers in the ninth, Willi Castro opened the inning with a two-strike single to left field. The next two batters were retired — Jonathan Schoop and pinch-hitter Eric Haase (for Tucker Barnhart) — before pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman (for Akil Baddoo) extended the game with a full-count walk.

Along with tying the game, Greene’s RBI single put runners on the corners for Javier Báez.

Báez struck out looking.

“He’s been comfortable against lefties, but he still has to do it in the big leagues,” Hinch said of Greene’s clutch hit. “It’s another sign of maturity and success. He’s a very good player, and that’s a big moment for him.”

Left-handed closer Gregory Soto, who was lights out in the ninth inning, returned for the 10th and imploded with the free extra-innings runner on second base. Jake Cronenworth reached on a hit-by-pitch, and Manny Machado reached on Báez’s throwing error to load the bases.

With one out, Soto hit Luke Voit to give the Padres an effortless run and a 4-3 lead.

“Starting the inning with Cronenworth, left-on-left, I like that option,” Hinch said of Soto. “We needed to get through Machado, but when the inning started with a hit by pitch, that put us in a tough spot. He walked that fine line in that second inning.”

After Soto got the second out, Hinch replaced him with right-hander Jason Foley. Jorge Alfaro hit Foley’s first-pitch two-seam fastball into right field, which drove in two more runs for a 6-3 advantage.

“The sinker against Alfaro,” Hinch said, when asked why he put Foley in the game. “He just threw it up and away instead of down and in. Alfaro kills lefties, too.”

All three runs were unearned.

It’s not how you start …

Before the seventh, the Tigers had three hits and one walk.

[ One year after trade, Daniel Norris returns to Tigers on minor-league contract ]

The Tigers advanced their first runner into scoring position in the fourth inning, when Harold Castro doubled to right field. The next two batters were retired: Miguel Cabrera struck out swinging and Candelario grounded out.

“He was really good early and super efficient,” Hinch said of Clevinger. “He was so quick as he was getting his outs, and he wasn’t giving us any room to put pressure on him. We didn’t have great swings. We didn’t hit the ball hard. He was very quick.”

Another opportunity didn’t arise until the seventh, when Cabrera worked a full count and doubled to the left-field corner on a slider that hung over the middle of the plate. Candelario made Clevinger pay for the mistake to Cabrera with a two-run blast to right field.

Clevinger stranded Schoop on first base by striking out Barnhart and Baddoo to end the seventh. He tossed 92 pitches and allowed two runs on six hits and one walk with five strikeouts across seven innings.

Since the second half began, Candelario is batting .400 (8-for-20) with four homers, one walk and four strikeouts in six games (five starts). For the season, though, he has a .207 average in 76 games.

In the eighth inning, Candelario had another chance to play hero. Two-out singles from Harold Castro and Cabrera off Padres reliever Luis Garcia put runners on the corners, but Candelario struck out swinging on a splitter in the dirt.

Out of the Tigers’ bullpen, three relievers tossed scoreless innings: Alex Lange in the sixth, Jose Cisnero in the seventh and Michael Fulmer in the eighth. Fulmer, a free agent after this season and the most likely player to be traded at the Aug. 2 deadline, may have pitched his final outing as a Tiger at Comerica Park.

Hill of an effort

Right-hander Garrett Hill wasn’t efficient through three innings.

The 26-year-old rookie needed 23 pitches in the first, 23 more in the second and 22 in the third. He worked around two walks in the first and one walk in the second — all three on full counts — but the Padres struck with two outs in the third frame.

“It’s not the outcome that we wanted, but I thought I kept the team in the game,” Hill said. “That’s all I can ask for.”

Machado, the Padres’ best hitter, lined first-pitch two-seam fastball to center field for a single, the first hit against Hill. Nomar Mazara, a Tiger for 50 games last season, followed with a two-strike single to center on another two-seamer.

Voit drove in Machado and Mazara with a double to straightaway center field. Just like the previous two batters, Voit tagged Hill’s two-seamer. The ball traveled 427 feet and bounced off the top part of the padding near the shrubs.

“Just wasn’t quite executing well enough,” Hill said.

Voit’s hit appeared to be a home run, and it would have been a homer in 29 of 30 ballparks. But replay review confirmed the call on the field: double.

Hill walked the next batter, Eric Hosmer, on four pitches. Then, Alfaro put the Padres ahead 3-0 with a ground-rule double to straightaway center field. All four hits in the third inning landed in center.

After throwing 68 pitches for the first nine outs, Hill pitched consecutive scoreless innings on 20 total pitches to get through the fourth and fifth. He allowed three runs on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts in five innings.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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