Spencer Torkelson unleashes ‘Tork Bomb’ to lift Detroit Tigers over Houston Astros, 6-3

Detroit Free Press

HOUSTON – Well, who saw this coming?

After a miserable season-opening series in Tampa, the Detroit Tigers just went deep into the heart of Texas and did the unthinkable. They beat the defending World Series champions Houston Astros in back-to-back games, earning a 6-3 victory on Tuesday night.

And that tune echoing through Minute Made Park took on a different sound:

The stars at nightAre big and brightDeep in the heart of Texas

Suddenly, in an absolute stunning development (at least for two games), those stars were Tigers.

Big and bright.

None of those stars was bigger than Spencer Torkelson, who unleashed his first Tork Bomb of the season. He crushed a homer that screamed out of Minute Made Park, giving the Tigers a 5-2 lead.

Torkelson finished the night with three RBIs — he also had a double — but this was more than a Tork Show.

They got pitching — Matt Manning went 5⅔ innings and left with a 3-2 lead.

They got balanced offense with 12 hits — Eric Haase, Matt Vierling and Jake Rogers also drove in runs.

And they played some strong defense — tip your cap, Ryan Kreidler.

Beating an All-Star

Framber Valdez, a 2022 All-Star, started the game for Astros. He has been one of the best pitchers in the American League over the last three seasons in ERA (3.02) and second with 33 wins.

So the Tigers went into this game with a clear plan: Try to make the most of every opportunity.

The Tigers were aggressive on the bases — sometimes, it worked; sometimes, it didn’t.

Vierling continued his torrid hitting in this series, hitting a single to open the game. After starting the season 0-for-7, he exploded for a 4-for-5 night on Monday.

MORE FROM SEIDEL: Matt Vierling saw something familiar in Tigers’ blast off vs. Astros

When Torkelson doubled off the wall, Vierling was running hard and scored from first, aggressive base running that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

In the second inning, Riley Greene singled to left field with Vierling on second base. Vierling was sent home but he was thrown out by left fielder Yordan Alvarez.

So you win some, you lose some.

In the sixth inning, with runners on second and third, the Astros pulled their infield in. Haase lined a ball to short stop and Jeremy Peña bobbled the ball, and Greene scored, giving the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Yes, more aggressive baserunning that paid off with another run.

Valdez went seven innings, giving up eight hits and three runs, two of them earned. He had nine strikeouts.

Aggressive defense

On Monday night, manager A.J. Hinch praised Vierling for an aggressive play in right field, diving for a ball.

Clearly, he wants the Tigers to play aggressive defense.

And Greene did just that.

Alvarez hit a line drive into center and Greene had a perfectly timed dive, snagging the ball.

It had his teammates jump up in the dugout, applauding him.

But all those little moments added up to this win.

Impact defender

On Tuesday night, Hinch put Kreidler in at second base because of his defense.

“Kreidler is an impact defender,” Hinch said, before the game. “That’s why I put him in the game late last night and he turned a nice double-play (in the eighth inning). I’d love to play Kreidler up the middle in most of the games he plays just because of the impact he can have.”

On Tuesday night, Hinch started Kreidler at second base and Jonathan Schoop at third.

“It’s nothing to do with Schoop,” Hinch said. “It’s more to do with Kreidler. Jonathan can play second base in his sleep. I’m not concerned about Schoop playing second base as much as we have a weapon in the middle of the field with Kreidler.”

Kreidler responded with some fantastic plays. He went out and caught a shallow pop up in center field and made a play, sliding behind second base.

After Alex Bregman hit a ball off the left field wall, Haase caught the ball on the bounce and fired it to Kreidler at second base. Kreidler made an athletic move, scooping the ball, scrambling around and tagging Bregman.

Those were all impact plays.

Deep in the heart of Texas.

MORE FROM SEIDEL: Why Tigers prospect Izaac Pacheco is Mr. Fearless

EAT ‘EM UP: One way to know Tigers are invested in future? It starts at the kitchen table

Contact Jeff Seidel at jseidel@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

To read Seidel’s recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.

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