CLEVELAND — For the second time in 2022, the Detroit Tigers hammered back-to-back home runs, and after losing the past eight games (and 27 of 34 games since July 9), the Tigers finished in the win column.
“We needed a win in the worst way,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Homers from Jonathan Schoop and rookie Kerry Carpenter in the sixth inning carried the Tigers to a 7-5 victory over the Cleveland Guardians in Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader at Progressive Field.
The Tigers (44-74) posted double-digit hits for the third time in August, with the offense responsible for 15 hits, one walk and nine strikeouts. Detroit lost Game 1 of the doubleheader, 4-1, on three hits, two walks and 13 strikeouts.
“Our guys had great energy all day,” Hinch said. “It was a tough first game and a quick turnaround. Some guys came out playing. … A lot of contribution offensively when you put up those kind of hits. The second game was a breath of fresh air.”
In the sixth inning, Schoop snapped a 3-3 tie with a solo home run off right-handed reliever Eli Morgan’s changeup. The ball traveled 380 feet over the elevated left-field wall. On the next pitch, Carpenter ambushed a fastball and drove the ball 392 feet — with a 102.9 mph exit velocity — to right-center field.
“I noticed he was leaving the changeup up, and then Schoopy hit a changeup out,” Carpenter said. “I was like, ‘He might just try to run a heater by me with the first pitch,’ so I was just ready for it and tried to turn it around.”
The 24-year-old, who crushed 30 homers across 97 games in the minors, logged the first homer of his MLB career in his fourth game.
Carpenter went 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. Barnhart picked up three hits and two RBIs for his first three-hit game this season. He has 13 RBIs in 72 games this season. Victor Reyes had three hits, too, while Schoop and Willi Castro collected two hits.
“To get a win against a team that’s in the middle of it, obviously leading the (American League Central) division, is big,” Barnhart said, “especially after losing the first game. But on a personal level, being able to contribute in a positive way and help the team win like I know I can felt good.”
Making his third start, right-hander Bryan Garcia completed six innings. He allowed three runs on five hits. He did not concede a walk and struck out five batters, throwing 61 of 88 pitches for strikes.
“I loved sending him out there for the sixth inning,” Hinch said. “It’s a little bit of uncharted territory for him.”
The Tigers’ bullpen nearly squandered the 5-3 lead, but right-hander Joe Jiménez induced an inning-ending double play in the seventh. He replaced righty José Cisnero — who allowed one run on two walks and a single and recorded just one out — and battled with Amed Rosario for six pitches in a big moment.
On the sixth pitch, Rosario hit a grounder to third baseman Kody Clemens.
Ahead 5-4, the Tigers tacked on two runs in the top of the eighth inning against righty reliever Bryan Shaw on RBI singles from Barnhart and Reyes. Back-to-back singles from Schoop and Carpenter made for a strong start to the inning.
Right-hander Alex Lange and left-handed closer Gregory Soto preserved the lead in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, though Soto allowed one run on two hits in the ninth. The game ended on a double play.
“We did a nice job of moving the ball forward,” Hinch said. “We still had our fair share of punch outs, but we stayed in the game and guys had some pretty good at-bats. We had some two-strike hits, which are key. … Not much not to like in that second game with how we played.”
Welcome to the majors
For doubleheaders, each team receives a 27th player, and both the Tigers and Guardians called up right-handed pitchers from the minor leagues for spot starts: Garcia for Detroit and 24-year-old Xzavion Curry, making his MLB debut, for Cleveland.
Curry allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk with three strikeouts, throwing 47 of 72 pitches for strikes and recording 12 swings and misses. The Tigers whiffed at six sliders, four four-seam fastballs, one curveball and one cutter.
The Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the second inning, as Carpenter — for his first-career extra-base hit — smoked a two-out double to center field. Barnhart drove him home with an RBI single to center field.
Barnhart struck again in the fifth inning with a leadoff single. Riley Greene added a one-out single, and Reyes drove a two-strike curveball into right field for an RBI single. The Tigers tied the game, 3-3, when Castro grounded into a force out.
Curry, a seventh-round pick in 2019, retired Javier Báez to complete the fifth and conclude his first MLB start. He had a 3.48 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) in the minor leagues this season, including a 3.09 ERA, 11 walks and 33 strikeouts in 32 innings for Triple-A Columbus.
Through three innings, Garcia worked around a single and two hit batters.
In the fourth, though, the Guardians posted three runs on a pair of home runs. Andres Gimenez, who delivered a crucial three-run blast in Game 1, followed Owen Miller’s single with a two-run home run off Garcia’s changeup for a 2-1 lead.
The ball traveled 408 feet and was hit with a 104.6 mph exit velocity.
“The first homer to Gimenez is not a pitch that I’m very upset about,” Garcia said. “It was a changeup down in an 0-1 count. I’m just trying to fill up the zone. He put a good swing on it, and you got to tip your cap.”
With two outs in the fourth, Luke Maile lined a first-pitch sinker from Garcia over the left-field wall for a solo home run and a 3-1 margin.
“That was a fastball that ran back on me,” Garcia said. “I got lazy with it.”
Garcia faced the minimum six batters in the fifth and sixth innings while pitching through the Guardians’ lineup for a third time. He struck out the final two batters he faced: Andres Gimenez (swinging, 92.6 mph sinker) and Oscar Gonzalez (swinging, 92.4 mph sinker).
For his 88 pitches, Garcia used 49 sinkers (56%), 20 sliders (23%) and 19 changeups (22%). He recorded eight swings and misses — four each with his sinker and slider — while executing 19 called strikes.
“He threw better strikes as the game went on,” Hinch said. “He sprayed the ball early, which can be effective for him, and he was able to move the ball around a little bit. His finish on his fastball at the end was really good.”