Miguel Cabrera’s 11th-inning single caps Detroit Tigers’ 7-6 comeback win over Giants

Detroit Free Press

His debut with the Detroit Tigers didn’t go as planned.

Right-hander Michael Lorenzen, who signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract in the offseason, was beat up Saturday by the San Francisco Giants. The 31-year-old allowed six runs — including a pair of two-run home runs — in the second of three games in the series at Comerica Park.

But the Tigers refused to return to the familiar loss column.

“I’ll take credit for putting us in a hole early to prove that we’re able to come back,” Lorenzen said. “Being a vet guy, you know what your team needs, and that’s what they needed today.”

The Tigers beat the Giants, 7-6, on Miguel Cabrera’s pinch-hit walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning. The victory started with an impressive comeback in the eighth inning, combined with five relievers delivering seven scoreless innings following Lorenzen’s struggles, to allow the rally.

“When you’re on the bench, you got to be ready for anything,” said Cabrera, who started preparing for an opportunity to hit in the sixth inning. “I was looking at the TV to see if it was a left-handed pitcher coming in. Finally, they brought in a left-hander, and finally, we did our job. It feels good.”

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Trailing by three runs, the Tigers (5-9) — winners in three straight games — tied the contest in the eighth inning on clutch hits from Javier Báez and Spencer Torkelson, but the comeback officially started with Nick Maton’s single and Riley Greene’s walk.

Then, Báez worked his magic with an impressive at-bat.

Facing right-hander John Brebbia, Báez won a 12-pitch battle — fouling off seven pitches, including five in a row — by hitting a slider over the head of left fielder Blake Sabol for a two-run double, cutting the Tigers’ deficit to 6-5.

“I tried to be focused,” Báez said. “I know the pitcher and have faced him a lot. I know the way he pitches to me. I was just swinging at good pitches, and I made contact. It feels great when I can do that.”

Báez advanced to third base on a deep flyout from Kerry Carpenter. He came around to score, tying the game at six runs apiece, on Torkelson’s single into left off righty Sean Hjelle.

The Tigers advanced a runner to second base, but Zach McKinstry struck out swinging to end the eighth inning. Riley Greene stranded a runner on second base in the ninth inning with a strikeout.

In the 11th inning, Chasen Shreve — a left-handed reliever who signed a minor-league contract in the offseason — struggled to throw strikes but still somehow kept the Giants from scoring.

In the bottom of the inning, Cabrera, leading off as a pinch-hitter for Akil Baddoo, ended the game with a walk-off single against left-hander Taylor Rogers. Before Cabrera’s single, a wild pitch allowed Torkelson, the free runner in extra innings, to advance to third base.

“We were just going to unload with right-handed bats on the bench,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We waited a long time to get those guys in there. I was going to roll out (Tyler) Nevin next and give the right-handers a chance to win the game. Miggy took over on his own. A lot of us had a ton of confidence he was going to make contact, and Miguel finds a way to steal the show.”

A rough start

It didn’t take long for the Giants to put the Tigers in a deep hole, with two runs in each of the first three innings. Sabol and J.D. Davis launched two-run homers in the second and third innings, respectively.

A leadoff walk sparked the two runs in the first inning.

“A bloop and a blast, they say,” Lorenzen said. “My stuff feels good, so I know those results are unacceptable, but I have to trust the big picture and know that at the end of the year, if I continue to have stuff like that, I’ll be fine.”

To begin the game, Lorenzen walked LaMonte Wade Jr. on seven pitches. The next batter, Thairo Estrada, singled. Both runners scored on RBIs from Davis and Matt Beaty, putting the Giants ahead 2-0 in the first inning.

Sabol tagged Lorenzen’s sweeper at the top of the strike zone for a 379-foot home run to right-center field in the second. Davis drilled Lorenzen’s down-and-in fastball for a 417-foot homer to left-center field in the third. Those homers put the Giants in front, 6-1, after three innings.

Lorenzen allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts in four innings, throwing 52 of 79 pitches for strikes.

He generated 11 whiffs and 12 called strikes.

The first three runs

Giants right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, a former teammate of Lorenzen’s who remains a close friend, won the pitching matchup with ease by throwing strikes and executing his slider. He allowed three runs (two earned runs) on five hits and zero walks with five strikeouts across 6⅔ innings.

DeSclafani threw 69 of 105 pitches for strikes.

“I liked the quality of at-bats the whole day,” Hinch said. “It doesn’t feel like it when you fall behind, but the at-bats kept being pretty good. We’ll have a bad at-bat like every team does, but our guys kept the line moving.”

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The Tigers scored their first run in the second inning when Carpenter unloaded on a sinker for a solo home run. He has two home runs this season, both in the past four days, plus a whopping seven balls in play off the barrel of the bat.

There’s a reason the Tigers are employing Carpenter as the cleanup hitter despite just 41 big-league games. His mechanics and approach are aligned, so his process should lead to continued positive results.

“I had five good at-bats today,” Carpenter said. “That’s what I was really pumped about, taking good pitches and swinging at good pitches.”

Two more runs scored in the fifth inning because of back-to-back fielding errors from Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford.

Akil Baddoo hit a one-out single and Zach McKinstry drove him in on a double to right field off DeSclafani’s fastball for the Tigers’ second run. On Crawford’s second error, McKinstry scored to cut the Tigers’ deficit to 6-3.

Relievers shine

After Lorenzen’s four innings, the Tigers were forced to cover the next seven innings with members of their bullpen. All five relievers, including one newcomer to the 26-man roster, were excellent.

Left-hander Tyler Holton, promoted from Triple-A Toledo before Saturday’s game, received the first call. Holton fired three scoreless innings with two strikeouts, throwing 24 of 34 pitches for strikes.

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The next call went to right-hander Trey Wingenter.

Wingenter, on his 29th birthday, pitched a scoreless eighth inning while throwing six of seven pitches for strikes. He struck out Joey Bart with a slider in the dirt to complete his perfect inning.

Right-hander Alex Lange worked around a walk in the ninth inning.

Right-hander Jason Foley walked the first batter in the 10th inning but struck out two of the next three to escape without damage. Shreve also escaped a walk to the second batter in the 11th inning.

“The extra inning stuff, it’s not even their fault they have runners on base,” Hinch said. “They didn’t give up any runs after a really rough start for us. It was the only chance we had to win the game.”

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

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