Updated: Apr 29
Eric Welch, Staff Writer
Tigers celebrate after a walk off single. Photo//Brian Kaufman/Detroit Free Press
Baseball is back in Detroit! After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, more than 43,000 fans packed Comerica Park for the Tigers’ season opener.
It was a cold start for Detroit’s bats, but they heated up late for a thrilling 5-4 walk off win in Friday’s home opener against the defending American League Central champion Chicago White Sox.
In the bottom of the ninth, pinch hitter Eric Haase hit a solo home run off Sox closer Liam Hendriks that tied the score 4-4.
Two newcomers then came up clutch for Detroit in the final moments of the game. Left fielder Austin Meadows, recently acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, knocked a triple deep into the right-center crevasse. Then, star shortstop Javier Báez blasted a pitch off the right field wall for the walk-off winner.
It took an official review to confirm the game winning hit as the ball appeared to be bobbled and then caught by Chicago outfielder AJ Pollock. After review, the original ruling of an out was overturned, resulting in a game-winning single and RBI for Báez in his Tiger debut.
The White Sox started the scoring early as Tigers’ starting pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez, struggled in his debut with Detroit, giving up two walks in the top of the first followed by a single by left fielder Eloy Jimenez that scored first baseman Jose Abreu. The Sox added two more runs in the second to take a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers offense got off to a slow start notably due to the hot pitching by White Sox starter Lucas Giolito. The home team did not score their first run until the bottom of the sixth before tying it up on a single by designated hitter Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the eighth.
Before the Tigers heroics in the bottom of the ninth, the White Sox took the lead right back in the top of the inning when DH Andrew Vaughn hit a solo shot to left field off Gregory Soto.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Tigers this year after some key off season moves. The signing of Báez to a $140 million, six year deal with Detroit last winter made headlines and should pay dividends in the immediate future.
The team is also excited about rookie first baseman Spencer Torkelson, who made the team coming out of Spring Training. However, Torkelson was 0-4 in his major league debut with two strikeouts.
UPDATE: White Sox beat the Tigers 5-2 on Saturday. Chicago also took the rubber match on Sunday beating the Tigers 10-1.