Eric Haase stays hot with two homers in Detroit Tigers’ 10-2 win over Kansas City Royals

Detroit Free Press

Right-handers? Left-handers?

Right now, it doesn’t matter.

Over the past two games, Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase has eight hits — three home runs and three doubles — in 10 at-bats. He hammered two home runs, totaling 12 this season, and doubled on a blooper in Friday’s 10-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in the first of three games at Kauffman Stadium.

The first home run, a solo homer off left-hander Daniel Lynch, put the Tigers ahead 1-0 in the first inning. The second homer, a solo shot off right-hander Brad Keller, extended the Tigers’ lead to 8-0 in the sixth.

“I’m not sitting a guy after five hits,” manager A.J. Hinch told reporters in Kansas City. “I’m not sitting a guy after two homers. I mean, he’s going to be back in there tomorrow. We’ve seen him get hot before, and when he does, there’s a lot of damage that comes with it.”

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Left-hander Joey Wentz — born in Lawrence, Kansas City — joined the Tigers (53-85) for the third start of his MLB career. He struggled in his first start, then suffered a shoulder injury in his second outing. This time, Wentz tossed 6⅔ scoreless innings with five strikeouts. He commanded his fastball and tossed in a handful of cutters (four swings and misses) to keep the Royals off balance.

“He threw strikes and quality strikes,” Hinch said. “If he went three up, three down (in the seventh), I wasn’t going to take him out.”

A walk sent Hinch to the mound with two outs.

“I told him, ‘It’s pretty awesome to come back and pitch in front of your family and friends. These fans are really smart. They’re going to give you a nice ovation. Enjoy this walk,'” Hinch said. “It doesn’t happen very often, especially on the road. It was a nice moment. I tip my cap to them for appreciating a local boy.”

Jeimer Candelario, serving as the designated hitter, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He ended a triple shy of the cycle. Rookie Spencer Torkelson finished 3-for-5 (all singles, two on fastballs) in his sixth game since returning from Triple-A Toledo.

The Tigers recorded 17 hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts.

“If we had the answer, we would have answered it in April,” Hinch said of his offense against fastballs. “We had a good approach. We stuck with it. We have some young guys up here that are trying to earn their keep a little bit. It’s a different lineup, and they’re trying to make an impression and get on the fastball right away. We’ll see how consistent they can be.”

It’s not Joe … it’s Joey

The Royals reached base three times against Wentz.

Salvador Perez singled in the first inning, Vinnie Pasquantino doubled in the fourth and Pasquantino walked on five pitches in the seventh. After the one-out walk, Wentz retired Kyle Isbel to complete his outing. He received an ovation from fans of both teams on his way back to the dugout.

Wentz struck out Hunter Dozier (2-2 curveball) and Nate Eaton (2-2 cutter) in the second inning, Drew Waters (3-2 fastball) in the third and Dozier (2-2 fastball) and Eaton (3-2 fastball) in the fifth.

Right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero needed three pitches for the third out in the seventh inning. Left-hander Daniel Norris allowed one run in the eighth and another in the ninth.

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For his 87 pitches, Wentz used 55 four-seam fastballs (63%), 19 cutters (22%), eight curveballs (9%) and five changeups (6%). His fastball, which averaged 92.8 mph, generated three swings and misses and 12 called strikes.

Hit after hit after hit

The Tigers scored four runs in the second inning, beginning with Haase’s solo home run on a fastball over the heart of the plate. Ensuing singles from Torkelson and Carpenter put runners on base for Candelario with one out.

Candelario turned on an up-and-in fastball in a 2-0 count for his team-leading 13th home run of the year. The three-run blast — hit with a 110.7 mph exit velocity — traveled 445 feet and gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead.

Two more runs were added in the fourth on RBIs from Willi Castro (groundout) and Báez (single). Lynch allowed four runs over five innings in his last start Sept. 2 against the Tigers at Comerica Park. One week later, he threw 88 pitches and gave up six runs across 3⅔ innings.

Facing Keller in the fifth inning, Candelario shot a double down the left-field line and Jonathan Schoop scored from first base for a 7-0 advantage on a fielding error by Eaton in left field. Haase picked a first-pitch slider to make it 8-0 with his second homer in the sixth.

The Tigers tacked on their ninth run in the eighth, which was the second inning of work for right-hander Luke Weaver. After Castro singled, Haase hit a blooper that dropped between three defenders in right field for an RBI double.

Rookie Ryan Kreidler finished 2-for-4 with one walk and two singles. The Tigers increased their lead to 10-1 when Candelario scored on Riley Greene’s RBI single in the ninth. Both Greene and Castro had six at-bats.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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