It took the Tigers until the last game of the series, but they finally took advantage of the Coors Field altitude and put up their best offensive performance of the season.
Although a rocky performance from the pitching staff made things interesting, the Tigers roared to a 14-9 victory to win the three-game series behind five home runs, including two grand slams.
Javier Báez’s grand slam opened things up for the Tigers (36-46) in the first inning, and Jake Marisnick’s grand slam in the top of the eighth was his first of the season, the first time two different Tigers players hit grand slams in the same game in 14 years. Spencer Torkelson went 2-for-3 with a double and a two-run homer, along with a walk.
“It’s huge, you know to start and score in the first and keeping the lead was hard, but both teams made adjustments during the game, and we hit the ball pretty well and we scored a lot of runs,” Báez told Bally Sports Detroit after the game.
Kerry Carpenter and Jake Rogers also went deep, as five different Tigers sent baseballs high into the Rocky Mountain air. By the end of the game, so many Tigers players went through their Red Wings-inspired home run celebration you would’ve thought hockey season was close.
Eight of their 12 hits went for extra bases Sunday, which was more than the five combined extra-base hits from the previous two games in the series. One of those was another triple from Matt Vierling, his second game in a row with one.
“It’s like a Coors Field special, I mean it never ends. Fortunately for us, we hung in there with some really big swings and you never feel comfortable, and the score kinda shows it,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said to reporters after the game. “They chipped away as well and played the whole game, we just ended up with more swings than they did, but these were some crazy games.”
Matt Manning’s second start after returning from injury didn’t go as smooth as his first, giving up four runs in five innings along with four strikeouts.
Báez, who entered the game just 1-for-9 in the series, opened things up with a grand slam in the top of the first inning, taking a first-pitch slider from Rockies starter Connor Seabold 402 feet deep into the Rockies crowd. The four runs were the most the Tigers had put up in the opening inning all season.
The early 4-0 lead would be a great cushion for Manning, as he would struggle in the beginning, hitting two batters and giving up two runs to sacrifice flys in the bottom of the second to cut the lead in half.
The Tigers kept the hits going in the top of the third, with back-to-back doubles from Torkelson and Andy Ibáñez and a homer from Kerry Carpenter to create a 7-2 lead for Detroit.
Rogers hit a ball to left field that was called foul in his first at-bat in the second inning but left no doubt the second time around in the fourth, going deep on a first pitch fastball from Seabold, who gave up eight runs on seven hits in his five innings pitching against the Tigers.
The Tigers bats temporarily would go cold after Rogers’ homer, going 10 straight at-bats without a hit. This allowed the Rockies to cut the deficit as Manning allowed two more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Brendan White took over for Manning in the bottom of the sixth after starting in last night’s bullpen game, but it only took two pitches for Randal Grichuk to take White deep to left field on an inside slider. Ezequiel Tovar’s single brought the Rockies within two before Torkelson’s big stop at first base left the score at 8-6.
Torkelson rode the momentum of that defensive play to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, taking a 1-0 outside slider deep to left center for his two-run homer to extend the lead to 10-6. And if that gave Tigers some breathing room, Marisnick’s grand slam in the next inning to make it 14-6 was a breath of fresh air.
Ryan McMahon’s three-run homer in the eighth made things interesting, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Tigers’ offensive explosion.
And to make a good day even better for the team, news broke during the late stages of the game that pitcher Michael Lorenzen would be representing the Tigers for the upcoming MLB All-Star Game on July 11 in Seattle.
“It was surreal, I wasn’t really expecting it to be honest, so it caught me off-guard. It’s been an awesome experience,” Lorenzen said. “You work hard, day in and day out as hard as you can to hopefully say one day that you’re good enough to be an All-Star.”
Kameron Goodwill is a freelance writer.
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