Newcomer Jake Marisnick has winning RBI as Detroit Tigers scrape by Texas Rangers, 3-2

Detroit Free Press

There’s life for the Detroit Tigers after Riley Greene, after all.

On the same day that the second-year outfielder went on the 10-day injured list with a stress fracture in his left leg, his replacement in center field, Jake Marisnick, made a big catch to open the game and delivered an RBI single in the sixth as the Tigers avoided a sweep by the Texas Rangers with a 3-2 victory Wednesday at Comerica Park.

Marisnick, who finished 2-for-4 with a strikeout, wasn’t the only surprise for the Tigers.

After two straight rough starts left his spot in the Tigers’ rotation in question, left-hander Joey Wentz frustrated the Rangers offense for 4 1/3 innings, scattering seven hits and one walk. The Rangers – who entered Wednesday averaging 6.4 runs a game – mustered just one run off Wentz while striking out five times.

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The Tigers’ bats didn’t fare much better off Texas right-hander Dane Dunning for most of the day. The 28-year-old continued his breakout season with five innings of one-run ball but ran into trouble in the sixth. He gave up two quick hits – singles by Nick Maton and Tyler Nevin – to open the inning and was pulled by Rangers manager Bruce Bochy.

After Zack Short beat out a sac bunt off reliever Jonathan Hernández to load the bases, Jake Rogers hit a sacrifice fly and Marisnick followed with a single to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

That was enough for Detroit’s bullpen, as Chasen Shreve, Jason Foley and Alex Lange kept the Rangers mostly in check for the final three innings, helped by a sharp defensive play by right fielder Zach McKinstry in the seventh. The infielder-by-trade fired a strike to second on a one-out single by Corey Seager to catch the $325-million man trying to stretch out a double.

The win improved the Tigers’ record to 26-28; they’re off Thursday, followed by a three-game series against their American League Central rivals, the Chicago White Sox, from Friday-Sunday.

Welcome to the CoPa

Marisnick, acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday and pressed into service Wednesday thanks to IL stints for Greene and Matt Vierling, was tested in the first inning.

The 11-year veteran’s first play as a Tiger at Comerica Park: A 417-foot blast off the bat of leadoff hitter Marcus Semien, who sent Wentz’s four-seam fastball toward the flagpole in the bullpen in left-center field. Semien’s shot would have been a home run in 26 of 30 MLB parks, according to Statcast, but Marisnick chased it down as he reached the wall for the game’s first out.

Marisnick’s first at-bat as a Tiger came leading off the bottom of the third inning: On a 2-2 count, he watched an 83.5 mph slider into the glove of catcher Jonah Heim for a called third strike. Marisnick singled to right in the fourth inning off an 89.9 mph sinker from Dunning for his first Tigers hit.

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A short-lived lead

The Tigers scored first, grabbing a 1-0 lead on Javier Báez’s RBI grounder to third with one out in the third inning. With runners on the corners thanks to back-to-back singles by Akil Baddoo and McKinstry, Báez made contact with an inside sinker from Dunning as the head of his bat flew into the infield. The throw from Josh Jung erased McKinstry at second, but Báez was safe at first and Baddoo scored when Semien’s throw was high at first base.

Spencer Torkelson followed with a two-out single to right and Maton worked a nine-pitch walk to give the Tigers another pair of runners in scoring position, but Nevin – in his second game after being called up from Triple-A – struck out swinging on four pitches to strand them.

But the Rangers answered in the next half inning as Jung doubled on the first pitch he saw with one out, and Heim singled to center two pitches later to even it. Heim advanced to second on Marisnick’s off-target throw home, and the Rangers then loaded the bases on a walk and a bunt single. With reliever Will Vest warming up in the bullpen, Wentz got Semien to pop up to Torkelson at first base.

No silver bullet on the bases

Wentz faced trouble early, with a one-out single by Seager and a two-out double by Adolis García putting runners on second and third, though he was spared an early run by Seager’s slow start on the bases.

The Rangers DH wasn’t running right away from first on García’s shot off the wall in left and was unable to take advantage of Baddoo’s initial throw, which spiked into the ground a few feet in front of the outfielder. Baddoo collected the ball quickly and got it into the infield in time to keep Seager from scoring. The next batter, Jung, grounded out sharply to Báez at short to end the threat.

From there, Wentz was mostly effective, generating four swings-and-misses apiece on his cutter and four-seam fastball. He pitched into the fifth inning for the first time since May 8, departing after a one-out single to center. Vest entered and needed just five pitches to retire García (swinging strikeout) and Jung (flyout to center).

Wentz finished at 82 pitches, with 50 thrown for strikes.

Contact Ryan Ford at Follow him on Twitter @theford.

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