Tigers’ Joe Jimenez, Javier Báez working to send aid to their hurricane-ravaged homeland

Detroit News

Baltimore — Joe Jimenez and Javier Báez have been through this before, trying to keep their heads in the game when their hearts are 2,000 miles away. Not that it ever gets easier.

“I’m talking to my family all the time,” Jimenez said before Tuesday’s game. “Trying to stay focused on baseball, of course. That is our job. But at the same time, they’re on my mind. Everyone in Puerto Rico, lots of family, they are in my thoughts and prayers. Hopefully it gets better soon.”

Back in 2017, Jimenez and Báez were in the U.S. while Hurricane Maria thrashed its way through their island, killing more than 3,000. Now, almost five years later to the day, Hurricane Fiona has flooded the streets, knocked down trees, swept away houses and cars, and knocked out the power grid.

“The whole country is impacted by all the flooding,” Jimenez said. “People are losing houses and everything they had. At least for me, my family, we didn’t have that much (damage). There was some flooding in the house and around us, but the surrounding areas got it much worse.

“Personally, we didn’t get it that bad but there’s a lot of people who have lost everything. It’s just terrible.”

Jimenez’s parents live there and two of his brothers are there presently, as well. As of Tuesday morning, it was still raining and power had not been restored. According to national reports, three people have died and more than 1,000 have been rescued.

“I would say that the power system wasn’t even restored 100% from 2017 and now this happens again,” Jimenez said. “It’s crazy.”

Báez, whose family lives near the Jimenez family in Puerto Rico, is giving away free meals to those who have been affected.

In an Instagram post Monday, he wrote: “All those families who are in need of a hot meal can stop by @taquizapr in Toa Baja and we will serve it to you for FREE!! If your community is affected and you’re in need of a hot meal, you can call 787-665-2323 (Joshua) or stop by @taquizapr and we will make all the arrangements. Blessings to all of you!”

Game on

Riley Greene came into his at-bat in the fourth inning Monday against rookie left-handed pitcher DL Hall in a 3-for-22 skid. Hall is tough on lefties, limiting them to a .187 average and punching out 47 of the 119 he faced in Triple-A where he spent most of the season.

Greene, down in the count 1-2, fouled off a 97-mph fastball and then ripped a slider into the gap in right-center field. The double scored Akil Baddoo from first, capping the Tigers’ five-run fourth inning.

In the sixth Greene came up with two on and one out facing another lefty — Midland native and Western Michigan product Keegan Akin. Akin has held lefties to a .174 average this season.

Greene turned on a 94-mph fastball and laced it inside the bag at first for a two-run double.

Something about facing lefties seems to get Greene locked in.

“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “I don’t know what goes on in my mind. It’s just kind of a ‘got to get it done’ moment, especially with runners in scoring position.

“It’s like, ‘Let’s go. Game on.’”

Greene is hitting .289 against lefties this season, with a .346 on-base average and a .727 OPS. He’s hitting .238 with a .671 OPS against right-handers.

“He stays in there,” manager AJ Hinch said. “His mechanics change. He doesn’t get too big (with his swing) against lefties. Against righties he sometimes wants to hit the buildings. I do like that he tones down his swing and take what they give.”

Something about the situation, too, seems to lock Greene in. He’s hitting .282 with a .722 OPS and 25 RBIs in 79 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. With two outs and runners in scoring position, he’s even better — .290 average and .808 OPS with 13 RBIs in 44 plate appearances.

Déjà vu

You bet Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart was having flashbacks Monday night as lefty Tyler Alexander rolled through six innings without allowing a hit.

Last May 7 in Cleveland, he guided another left-handed paint artist through a no-hitter when he was catching for the Reds — Wade Miley.

“It’s so funny, too,” Barnhart said. “Tyler and Wade’s pitch mix are virtually the exact same. I mean, if something were to happen and we’d gotten through that, it would’ve been pretty ironic — two no-hitters with guys with who are virtually similar in terms of how they pitch.”

Didn’t quite get there. Alexander gave up back-to-back singles in the seventh. But it was looking good for a minute.

“It got to the point where I was thinking about who we were going to have to face one more time,” Barnhart said. “We were getting somewhere. I was counting down the outs, to be honest with you.”

Alexander threw every pitch Barnhart called for. There was not one single shake in 87 pitches. And Barnhart, after four straight rough starts by Alexander, devised a different battle plan.

“Same as when I caught Eduardo (Rodriguez), I took that same approach,” said Barnhart, who guided lefty Rodriguez through a bounce-back start Saturday. “We started using more fastballs away and not as many fastballs and cutters in, just to give them another look at something away — and not just the changeup.”

Alexander got nine called strikes with his four-seamer and his changeup and cutter helped keep the Orioles off balance.

“With Tyler and Eduardo, their fastballs and cutters are so good and they command the ball so well up and in to right-handed hitters,” Barnhart said. “But it ends up making the changeup not as good because if a hitter knows the changeup is the only pitch that’s going to be on that side of the plate, they can either choose to try to hit it or eliminate it.”

Never underestimate the value of a shrewd catcher.


Twitter: @cmccosky

Tigers at Orioles

First pitch: 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Oriole Park, Baltimore

TV/radio: BSD/97.1


RHP Matt Manning (2-2, 3.28), Tigers: He’s coming off possibly the most impressive performance of his young career, blanking the White Sox on three hits over seven innings. He bullied a good-hitting team with two pitches — 82 of his 87 pitches were four-seamers and sliders. The four-seam hit 97.6 mph and he was dotting the edges with it.

RHP Jordan Lyles (10-11, 4.70), Orioles: Last season he led the American League in earned runs (103) and homers allowed (38) and this year he has a higher WHIP (1.45) and leads the league in hits allowed (184). His last two starts have been rough, allowing 12 runs and three homers in 8⅔ innings. Miguel Cabrera doubled and homered off him at Comerica Park back in May.

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