Kerry Carpenter’s blast sends Detroit Tigers to fourth straight win, 4-3 over Guardians

Detroit Free Press

It was 39 degrees at first pitch.

The Detroit Tigers postponed Monday’s series opener with the Cleveland Guardians at Comerica Park, opting for a straight doubleheader Tuesday. Regardless, the Tigers knew they would be playing in cold weather, but by pushing the game from Monday to Tuesday, they wouldn’t have to play with snow in the forecast.

In Game 1, the Tigers won, 4-3, on Kerry Carpenter’s walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. He hit a full-count fastball from right-handed reliever James Karinchak over the right-field wall for his third homer this season.

“It’s nice to be having good at-bats like I’ve been having,” Carpenter said. “The results are coming now, so it’s fun, and I know I can keep it going, so I just have to stay locked in.”

The victory extended the Tigers’ winning streak to four games, with the past three all coming in walk-off fashion from Nick Maton (a home run on Friday), Miguel Cabrera (a single on Saturday) and Carpenter (Tuesday’s home run).

“It’s pretty fun,” Carpenter said. “It’s a blast.”

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The Tigers (6-9), who finished 2-for-11 at the plate with runners in scoring position, turned to Rule 5 draft pick Mason Englert, a right-handed pitcher, for the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

In the seventh, the Guardians had runners on the corners for slugger Josh Naylor, but Englert forced him to ground into an inning-ending double play with a changeup below the strike zone.

“A lot of power there but not a lot of speed like the rest of their lineup,” said catcher Eric Haase. “He’s going to hit something hard, and hopefully, we can try to get it on the ground, and Mason executed a perfect changeup. … We could take a shot going in for a strikeout, but other than that, the situation is too big, and I’d rather walk him than give him anything over the plate to hit.”

Englert, 23, rarely threw his fastball (only five of 34 pitches) and put zeros on the scoreboard. He primarily used his secondary pitches: 12 sliders, 11 changeups and six curveballs.

Righty Alex Lange delivered a scoreless ninth inning, working around one hit, to earn the win.

Left-hander Matthew Boyd allowed three runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts, throwing 51 of 82 pitches for strikes. The 32-year-old has a 4.50 ERA with nine walks and 11 strikeouts through 14 innings this season.

“Nine days between starts or something like that,” Boyd said. “But it’s good. You just have to deal with it. We can’t control the weather, so do the best we can to prepare for the start that day, and if it doesn’t happen, then prepare for the next day, and if doesn’t happen again, then prepare for the next day. … There’s no routine at that point.”

Yeah, Boyd

For the first three innings, Boyd pitched efficiently, looked dominant and didn’t give up a hit. He filled up the strike zone and racked up a couple strikeouts, only wavering when he walked Josh Bell on five pitches to start the second inning. Still, Boyd escaped that leadoff mistake by retiring the next three batters with ease.

Then came the fourth inning.

“It felt colder than Opening Day in 2020,” Boyd said.

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With the Tigers ahead 1-0, Boyd allowed a single to Jose Ramirez with one out in the fourth inning. He advanced to second on a fielding error by left fielder Akil Baddoo. The mistake came back to haunt the Tigers, as Bell ripped a fastball down the middle for an RBI double to tie the game at 1-1.

The next batter, Oscar Gonzalez, turned on a middle-in slider, the first-pitch of the at-bat, and sent the ball 424 feet to left field. The two-run homer put the Guardians ahead, 3-1, in the fourth.

“On the slider, I just got around it,” Boyd said. “I didn’t throw it where I wanted to on that one, and it was kind of flat. Unfortunately, it’s a home run, and that sucks, but the guys came back and picked me up, so that was awesome.”

Boyd pitched a scoreless fifth inning, working around a walk and a single, before exiting his third start this season. He generated 14 swings and misses: eight fastballs, three sliders, one changeup and two sinkers.

His fastball averaged 89.6 mph.

“The plan was to go back out (for the sixth inning), but they shifted gears a little bit when the inning started to drag on,” Boyd said. “There was some mound visits. A.J. (Hinch, manager) came back and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to play this smart. It’s the coldest day of the year.’ There were lots of reasons for it. I don’t question him. I always want to be out there. I wanted to go back out there. But I always trust his decision, and he made the right one.”

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Hunter gatherers

The Tigers scored first in the first inning against Guardians right-hander Hunter Gaddis, all thanks to a leadoff walk from Maton. He advanced to third base on a line-drive single from Riley Greene.

And Maton scored on Javier Báez’s sacrifice fly to left field.

Within three batters, the Tigers controlled a 1-0 advantage in a matchup with their American League Central rivals. Although Boyd squandered the one-run margin, the Tigers’ offense bounced back with two runs in the fifth inning.

“It’s definitely felt like our at-bats get better as the game goes on,” Haase said.

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An opportunity emerged when Haase and Greene delivered singles to put runners on the corners with one out. Báez (single) and Carpenter (double) collected RBIs as the Tigers tied the game, 3-3.

The Tigers had Gaddis on the ropes, with two runners in scoring position, but they stranded Báez and Carpenter when Akil Baddoo popped out and Spencer Torkelson lined out.

Gaddis allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk with one strikeout across five innings.

Haase posted a four-hit performance, increasing his batting average to .275 through 11 games, while Greene — a left-handed hitter — collected three hits: all three were pulled into right field, with two ground balls through the infield.

“That’s why it’s so hard not to panic at the start of the season,” Haase said of his four singles in four at-bats. “You’re trying to get back up, trying to figure out a new team, a lot of stuff going on, different lineups, maybe different jobs. Everyone is trying to find their role. I feel like everyone now is starting to grease themselves into that, and I think we’re finally taking a good step forward.”

Miguel Cabrera, who turned 40 on Tuesday, went 0-for-4 with one strikeout.

Carpenter, who leads the Tigers with a .954 OPS, finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs. He received four straight full-count fastballs from Karinchak in the ninth inning.

The 25-year-old fouled the first three before depositing the fourth into the right-field seats.

“I didn’t really make a conscious adjustment,” Carpenter said. “Maybe I was a little late because I was trying to see (the ball) deeper because his curveball comes off his heater really well. I was just trying to make a little bit of a later decision.”

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

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