DETROIT — Parker Meadows drilled the pitch from Astros reliever Ryan Pressly high and deep into the seats in right field for a three-run walk-off shot. His first career homer in his first week with the Tigers made them 4-1 winners even though they entered their triumphant ninth inning with just one hit.
The fireworks flashed, illuminating the field as Meadows rounded the bases and punched a fist in the air, an exclamation point to the Friday-night drama before 23,832 fans at Comerica Park.
His parents, Kenny and Staci Meadows from Loganville, Ga., were there to witness it all along with Parker’s grandmother, whom he calls Meemaw, and his two best friends. His mother was caught by the Bally Sports Detroit cameras, crying tears of joy as the ball landed among jubilant Tigers fans.
“She’s still crying,” Meadows said after taking a call from his mom. “Hopefully, I can converse with her in a second. … It was real cool to do it in front of them.
“I can’t put it into words, honestly,” he said of the walk-off. “It doesn’t feel real, but the team battled the whole way through. We were getting no-hit through [seven by Astros starter Framber Valdez], and we were still chirping in the dugout, being a good team, and making the hits fall in in the last inning.
“And I was able to capitalize.”
Miguel Cabrera started the rally with a two-out single up the middle (career hit number 3,150) and pinch-hitter Zach McKinstry followed suit. A Javier Báez single to left-center tied the game.
“I was sitting on fastball,” he said, “but [Pressly] left a slider up, and I took advantage of that situation.”
Tigers starter Matt Manning did his part to keep Detroit close enough to strike late. The right-hander allowed just one hit and an unearned run across his 6 1/3 innings, but he departed after 80 pitches after he slipped on the mound and aggravated a lower back issue that he’s dealt with on and off this season. He’s listed as day to day.
Before Meadows’ late-game fireworks at the plate, he also showed his prowess in center field, using his 6-foot-5 frame to leap high and rob Yordan Alvarez of a homer in the fourth inning.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch liked how Meadows slowed down the moment against Pressly, working a 2-1 count before connecting.
“Parker did a great job before the homer of getting himself into a good count,” Hinch said. “If he goes up there a little too aggressive and starts flailing at balls, then the count flips on him, and he’s in trouble.
“So, the quality of the at-bat, and I know we’re going to talk about the homer. That’s what we should talk about tonight. But the way that he got to the count that he got to, I thought was a very mature at-bat.”
Said Meadows: “I just reminded myself: ‘Be easy.”’
He worked Valdez, who didn’t allow a hit in seven innings, for two walks while also striking out once.
Meadows’ older brother, Austin Meadows, is on Detroit’s 60-day injured list, but the two still talk almost daily.
“Watching [Austin] was awesome,” Parker told MLB.com prior to the game. “He’s always had that sweet swing. Obviously, we’re different players. But I’ve tried to follow in his footsteps the best I can. He’s super fun to watch not only offensively, but defensively as well. I just try to do what he’s been doing.
“On the phone [Monday], he just told me, ‘Enjoy it. You only have one debut. Soak everything in.’ … He’s always supporting me no matter where he’s at. He’s absolutely the best big brother I could ask for through this whole process.”
What does Parker know now about playing in the Majors that he didn’t know before experiencing it?
“I think it’s more laid-back than I thought,” Meadows said. “The guys in the clubhouse help that out a lot. They’ve been great. [Spencer Torkelson] and Riley [Greene] experienced this not so long ago, and they’ve been able to help me out. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be on the field.
“They told me to be myself, and ask questions when I need to. Not only have those two been great teammates, they’ve been great friends and taken me under their wing. I’m just blessed to be here. This is a great group.”