Detroit Tigers hit five home runs, including two grand slams, in 14-9 win over Rockies

Detroit Free Press

DENVER — The Detroit Tigers scored all 14 of their runs Sunday with home runs.

The homers from Javier Báez (grand slam), Kerry Carpenter (three-run), Jake Rogers (solo), Spencer Torkelson (two-run) and Jake Marisnick (grand slam) crushed the Colorado Rockies and marched the Tigers to a statement 14-9 victory in Sunday’s series finale at Coors Field.

The five hits traveled a combined 1,988 feet in the Mile High City.

“It’s like a Coors Field special,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “It never ends, and fortunately for us, we hung in there with some really big swings. You never feel comfortable, and the score kind of shows it. We just ended up with more swings than they did. That’s a crazy game.”

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The Tigers (37-46) won two of three games in the series and four of seven games in their road trip against the Texas Rangers and Rockies. They’re four games behind the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League Central.

“And we have an off day,” Hinch said. “Thankfully, no bullpen game tomorrow, no bullpen usage tomorrow. We are off. We will not convene. We will enjoy some time away from the game. But I’m proud of our guys.”

Attacking Rockies right-hander Connor Seabold in the first inning led to Báez’s grand slam to left field. He crushed a first-pitch hanging slider and drove in Zach McKinstry (single), Torkelson (walk) and Carpenter (single).

It was the eighth grand slam of his 10-year MLB career.

“As he goes, we go,” Tigers starter Matt Manning said. “When he plays well, and our good players play well, that makes the game really easy.”

In the third inning, the Tigers took a 7-2 lead when Carpenter cranked Seabold’s first-pitch fastball at the top of the strike zone for a three-run home run to left-center, following back-to-back doubles from Torkelson and Andy Ibáñez.

A solo home run from Rogers, off Seabold’s first-pitch fastball, increased the Tigers’ margin to 8-2 in the fourth inning. Rogers ranks second on the Tigers with 11 home runs in 54 games, while Carpenter has eight homers in 42 games.

After Rogers tied Torkelson as the team’s leader in homers, Torkelson took back the crown by hitting his 12th home run in the seventh inning. He jumped a second-pitch slider from right-handed reliever Gavin Hollowell for a two-run blast.

The Tigers’ fourth homer extended the lead to 10-6 and, finally, provided enough runs to fend off a comeback attempt from the Rockies.

The top five starters in Detroit’s batting order — McKinstry, Torkelson, Ibáñez, Carpenter and Báez — finished 8-for-21 (.381) with nine RBIs, two walks and two strikeouts. Along with 12 homers, Torkelson has 18 doubles and 36 walks in 81 games this season.

“Here at this ballpark, and even against their guy, you just got to be ready to hit from the jump of the at-bat,” Hinch said. “You really need to zone in on what you’re trying to do, and when you get it, don’t miss it. … Don’t miss it. That’s the big key.”

Marisnick, the nine-hole hitter and defense-first center fielder, hit 63 home runs in the first 868 games of his MLB career, spanning parts of 10 seasons. None of those homers were grand slams, however.

The 32-year-old launched the first grand slam of his career in his 869th game.

Marisnick hit a third-pitch slider from left-handed reliever Brad Hand to left field, driving in Matt Vierling (triple), Zack Short (walk) and Rogers (walk). The second grand slam of the game put the Tigers ahead, 14-6, in the eighth inning.

The Tigers’ two grand slams in the same game was the franchise’s first double-slam game since Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn accomplished the feat May 15, 2009, against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park.

Manning makes it work

Manning started for the second time since returning from the injured list.

The 25-year-old allowed four runs on five hits with four strikeouts across five innings, throwing 69 strikes among 96 pitches. He didn’t concede any walks, but did allow two extra baserunners on hit-by-pitches.

“Anytime you can come out of here with a win, I think it went well,” Manning said. “It took me a couple of innings to feel what my body was going to do in the altitude, but during innings 3-5, I thought I was fine and put us in a position to win. That’s all you can ask for.”

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The Rockies scored two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies in the second inning and two runs on a double and a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. When Manning exited, the Tigers controlled an 8-4 advantage.

Manning, a right-hander, threw 43 four-seam fastballs (45%), 35 sliders (35%), 13 curveballs (14%) and five changeups (5%). He generated nine whiffs — with four fastballs and five sliders — and 14 called strikes.

His fastball averaged 92.9 mph and maxed out at 96.5 mph.

“Just getting a feel for it,” Manning said of working on his slider. “Landing it, throwing it all different types of counts. I knew that was a pitch with all those righties that I could lean on today, so that’s what I did.”

Oh, that bullpen!

The Tigers used five pitchers out of the bullpen: right-hander Brendan White, left-hander Chasen Shreve, righty José Cisnero, lefty Tyler Alexander and righty Jason Foley.

White surrendered two runs in the sixth inning, and Alexander allowed three in the bottom of the eighth. Still, the Rockies could only trim their deficit to 14-9 with Ryan McMahon’s two-run homer off Alexander.

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Foley entered for the bottom of the ninth inning to protect a five-run lead. He worked around a one-out single from Randal Grichuk, struck out two batters and completed the inning without allowing a run.

The 27-year-old has a 2.17 ERA over 37⅓ innings in 37 games out of the bullpen.

“It’s survival mode sometimes, and I think that mindset has been very good in our bullpen,” Hinch said. “They’re willing to do anything. They always want to pitch. They’re even surprised when I take them out. That mindset, I think Juan (Nieves, assistant pitching coach) does a good job in the bullpen of getting those guys ready to pitch in a quick amount of time.”

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

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