Marisnick unfazed by roster crunch, ignites Tigers’ blowout win with double, homer

Detroit News

Detroit — Jake Marisnick has played for eight different teams. He’s been traded four times and released four times. At age 32 and in his 11th season, he found himself toiling in Triple A for the White Sox earlier this season before the Tigers’ purchased his contract on May 30.

He’s been through some stuff. Which is why he’s not stressing about his seemingly precarious roster spot.

“When it’s something that’s out of your control, you just go out and play and help the team win on that day,” he said after bashing a double and a home run in the Tigers’ 9-0 win in the series finale against the Oakland Athletics Thursday afternoon. “That’s all you can do.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 9, Athletics 0

“You can’t look around or look over your shoulder or anything like that. You just go out and take care of business on the field.”

The Tigers purchased Marisnick after center fielder Riley Greene went down with a stress reaction in his left fibula. Manager AJ Hinch, who managed him earlier in his career, said at the time that he’d be a perfect fit. And he has been, playing flawlessly in center field and chipping in when he can offensively, like he did Thursday.

But Greene is expected to be back as early as Saturday. Outfielder Akil Baddoo, who has been out with a quad strain, is expected to be back in the lineup Friday. Utility player Tyler Nevin was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo after the game to accommodate that move.

The writing on the wall would suggest Marisnick would be the odd-man out when Greene gets back. But nobody has written that in permanent marker.

“I have a long history with him,” Hinch said. “His general approach to the game, the way he is as a teammate, the contribution he makes on both sides — and the defense is obviously a plus. And just the overall vibe he brings. I’ve seen him grow up from a young player to a dad and father.

“Yes, it’s going to get crowded but he’s handling all of that as I would expect him to — with a smile on his face. And they way he’s contributed in the games makes you think.”

The win Thursday helped the Tigers flush away a couple of frustrating losses to the woebegone Athletics. The offense vented after it was held scoreless through the first 17 innings of the series.

“From the first pitch to the last out, guys were grinding out at-bats,” Marisnick said. “When you do that, one through nine, that’s a recipe for success. Everybody stays on the same page and keeps competing. It was good.”

Oakland’s lefty starter Hogan Harris bore the brunt of it. He gave up seven runs and eight hits, with three of his four walks coming across to score, in 4.2 innings.

“We all settled down a little bit after Javy’s two-out base hit in the first inning,” Hinch said. “There is something about a two-out hit at the beginning of the game, it just sort of lets everybody exhale. Especially after how the last couple of nights had gone offensively.”

Javier Baez dropped a two-out, two-strike single into left field to get the Tigers off and running. He’d been 2 for 42 in 0-2 counts this season and he ended up getting three hits in the game, plus a walk, all on 0-2 counts. He also scored twice and knocked in a pair.

Like Marisnick said, the contributions came from every spot in the order.

He’s certainly built a case to stay. The 32-year-old has played nearly flawless defense in center field and on Thursday he doubled, homered, scored twice and knocked in a pair of runs.

Zack Short and Marisnick ripped back-to-back doubles in the fourth, with Marisnick scoring on a single by Matt Vierling. Marisnick’s double was a 407-foot missile that hit off the wall in center field.

“That one felt good,” he said.

He wasn’t done. Against right-handed reliever Rico Garcia, Marisnick got on top of a 91-mph elevated fastball and drove it into the Tigers’ bullpen in left. It was his second home run this season.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve lost some tough games, some extra-inning games and little things like that, but the energy in this locker room doesn’t go away,” he said. “That’s the recipe for a good team. We just have to keep it going.”

Andy Ibanez doubled, walk and scored a run. Kerry Carpenter, making his first start of the series, had two hits including an RBI single.

Last but not least, catcher Eric Haase, who had six hits in his previous 40 at-bats and had struck out twice and hit into a double play Thursday, punched a two-strike RBI single in the seventh.

All of that made the day a relative breeze for starter Michael Lorenzen. In his final start before he represents the Tigers in the All-Star Game in Seattle on Sunday, Lorenzen pitched five scoreless innings with four strikeouts and no walks.

“It feels great,” said Lorenzen, who allowed three singles and deleted all three with subsequent double-play balls. “I feel like I’m going into the break with more confidence than I’ve ever had, to be honest.”

He was spotting his 94-mph four-seam fastball and bedazzling the Oakland hitters with a clever mix of sliders, changeups and sweepers. With those three secondary pitches he got nine swinging strikes on 24 swings. The swing-and-miss and the punch-outs were something he been striving to get back.

“It’s gotten a lot better,” he said. “Just the two-strike pitches are getting better. In Colorado (his last start), I made some good two-strike pitches but with the altitude, they weren’t as sharp or as late and tight. Today I was getting swing-and-misses with my slider and we made a really good adjustment with the changeup, too.

“My best pitch is my changeup and I’ve had that pitch for two, maybe three starts. If you don’t have your best pitch, you can’t really be yourself out there. We’re in a really good spot where I feel I can create that pitch each and every day and lean on it.”

Because of the lopsided score, because of the dense 83-degree heat and because the bullpen, for a change, was fully rested, Hinch pulled Lorenzen after five innings and let him get about prepping for his first All-Star appearance.

“To me, this is bigger than getting called up to the big leagues,” Lorenzen said of the All-Star nod. “I felt like I always knew I was going to be a Major League baseball player. But to be a good Major League baseball player is a different story. So to be recognized as like, you didn’t just make it but you’re good, you’ve been successful — that hit me hard right when AJ told me.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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