Home runs, ejections, dramatic finish, Tigers open second half with rousing win in Seattle

Detroit News

Seattle — The Tigers packed a lot of subplots into their nerve-wracking 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners Friday night at T-Mobile Park.

“Very happy with the result,” manager AJ Hinch said. “It’s good to be back up and running with a win.”

Home runs by Kerry Carpenter, Akil Baddoo and Nick Maton accounted for all the runs. Carpenter hit a two-run home run (406 feet) in the first and Baddoo a solo shot in the fifth (402). Both hit two-strike changeups from Mariners’ starter Luis Castillo.

Maton, recalled from Triple-A Toledo before the game, swatted a slider off reliever Ty Adcock in the seventh. The two-run shot re-established the three-run lead that was trimmed to one in the fifth.

“I’m happy for Nick,” Hinch said. “We needed it, the way the game was going. But I am happy for him to be able to come back up and contribute right away.”

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Maton was one of the subplots. Not only with his home run, but he played a key role in keeping the game from being tied, or worse, in the fifth.

Lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed just one base runner and posted six strikeouts through the first four innings, but it wasn’t quite the breeze you’d expect. Three balls were hit to the wall against him. One of those, a 395-foot blast by Julio Rodriguez, was headed over the wall in center until Matt Vierling leaped up and caught it.

The Mariners ended up hitting five balls that were caught at or over the wall.

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It seemed only a matter of time before the Mariners broke through. It happened in the fifth and Rodriguez set the table for it by walking Eugenio Suarez and hitting Tom Murphy on a 1-2 pitch to start the inning.

After AJ Pollock singled to load the bases, No. 9 hitter Dylan Moore lined a two-run double off the wall in left, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 3-2. The tying run never crossed the plate.

Pollock was at third base and the Tigers’ infield was drawn in when leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford hit a ground ball in the hole between first and second base. Maton, playing second base, made a diving stop of the ball and threw out Crawford from his knees.

Inexplicably, Pollock never moved off third base.

“I went down (to Toledo) to go find myself,” Maton said. “It feels like a release. I don’t feel the pressure anymore and now I’m playing the way I know I can. I know it’s one game. Just have to keep putting them together and keep grinding.”

The fifth inning was still alive, though. Rodriguez seemingly pitched around Julio Rodriguez with first base open and two outs, walking him on five pitches. That brought right-handed hitter Ty France to the plate. Eduardo Rodriguez struck France out, getting a favorable call on a borderline 2-2 pitch from home plate umpire Marvin Hudson.

“The hitter always tell me what to do,” Rodriguez said. “That situation, it was a really good count to throw that front-door two-seamer. I got a call, but that’s the pitch I wanted to execute right there.”

France slammed his bat to the ground at home plate and then his helmet and then he had to be restrained from going after Hudson further. He was promptly ejected. Hudson was another subplot.

Flash ahead to the eighth inning. The Tigers were holding to the 5-2 lead. Jose Cisnero pitched a clean sixth inning and lefty Tyler Holton got four straight outs, handing the ball to Jason Foley with one out in the eighth.

Rodriguez beat out an infield single and he came around to score on a double by Jarred Kelenic. Rodriguez was initially called out at the plate. The Tigers executed a crisp relay from Vierling to Maton to catcher Jake Rogers and it appeared Rodriguez’s front foot didn’t touch the plate.

“Vierling didn’t hit the first cut, he hit the second,” Hinch said. “That may have been the difference between safe and out, just the ball in the air going over (Javier) Baez to Nick. Jake was positioned perfect. It was bang-bang. I saw Julio’s foot go over the plate. It came down to whether they could determine whether he touched it.”

The Mariners, who had lost their challenge earlier in the game, asked Hudson for a crew chief review. He agreed and the call was ultimately overturned.

“They got it right,” Hinch said. “That’s the goal, to get the play right at the most leveraged times, in the eight inning, ninth inning or later. Unfortunately we were on the short end of the argument. But I get why they did it.”

It was 5-3 and the Mariners had runners at second and third with one out. And Foley had been waiting a long time between pitches for the review to be conducted. But he bowed his neck and struck out Teoscar Hernandez and Suarez.

But Foley wasn’t pleased with Hudson and gave him an earful walking off the mound. Foley was promptly ejected.

“To be honest, I didn’t like that,” Hinch said. “I didn’t think it was the right time. I didn’t think it was worth it. I think we had a bunch of baseball left and you’re getting the umpire pissed off as we’re going to hit in the ninth inning. Obviously he was frustrated.

“But after the punch-outs the emotion is on our side. I tried to get out there and save him some money but he said what he said.”

That left one final subplot. Alex Lange. This was his first outing since giving up the game-tying homer in the ninth inning Sunday in Detroit. He was summoned to get the final three outs, which he did, earning his 14th save. But it was a fight. He gave up a one-out solo home run to pinch-hitter Mike Ford and then with two outs walked No. 9 hitter Moore and then Crawford.

That brought the ever-dangerous Rodriguez to the plate. Lange on his 29th pitch of the inning, stuck him out looking at a curve ball.

“He’s carrying some stress with him,” Hinch said. “I know he holds himself to a high standard and he expects to be perfect. When he does get to leverage, he creates a ton of swing and miss and a ton of stress on the other side. We have to get him in the strike zone early and not have those at-bats where he’s spraying the ball.

“We have a lot of trust in him. His emotions are being challenged right now. He wants to be that guy at the end of the game. He wants to carry the burden of the ninth inning. We need to get him back in the right direction.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter @cmccosky

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