Detroit — Tigers rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez was out on the field Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park, checking out his injured left knee to see if he would be able to play later that night against the Red Sox.
Suarez, 22, assured Tigers manager Brad Ausmus that he was fit to play, then proved it by having the game of his life in the Tigers‘ 8-6 win.
Suarez, hitting ninth in the lineup, collected his first MLB hit in the fourth in his first big-league start, slamming a full-count pitch off of Red Sox veteran left-hander Jon Lester for a home run to give the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
Well, all the Tigers pretended to ignore Suarez as he headed into the dugout after the homer, then seconds later mobbed him.
“Everybody said nothing, and after I put my stuff away everybody said congratulations,” Suarez said.
Suarez was equally impressive in the field, going deep in the hole to take a hit away from Red Sox catcher David Ross in the third.
In fact, it was a great night for both 22-year-old rookies playing on the left side of the infield for the Tigers as third baseman Nick Castellanos went 3-for-4 with a home run and two singles to push his average to .271.
“It’s cool,” Castellanos said of both rookies hitting homers. “When was the last time two 22-year-olds hit a home run in a Tigers’ game. It was a lot of fun. It’s awesome to see someone that I lived in a dorm with (in Lakeland) when I was 18, and us both hit home runs in a big-league game. It’s awesome, you know having you and your friend’s dreams come true.”
It was the third straight three-hit game for Castellanos.
“I’m just having fun, being loose and not trying to do too much,” Castellanos said. “I’m just trying to go out there and put good swings on good pitches and good things are happening.”
The Tigers’ 6-9 hitters — Castellanos (3-for-4), Austin Jackson (3-for-3, walk), Bryan Holaday (1-for-3, sacrifice fly) and Suarez (1-for-3, walk) — combined to go 8-for-13.
Avila out of lineup
Tigers catcher Alex Avila took a couple of bats to the head during Friday’s series opener, the backswing of Xander Bogaerts early in the game and the backswing of David Ortiz in the eighth — the latter ultimately sending him to the locker room.
Ausmus gave Avila the night off Saturday, sending Holaday behind the plate.
“He said he felt good, he could play, no headache this morning, but he’s not playing,” Ausmus said before the game.
“I think there’s extra precaution with concussions just because of the information sports in general has garnered for all of the concussions over the years. I think there’s just more caution, the fact that they added a concussion DL tells you there’s more caution.”
Holaday had a bunt single in the second to help the Tigers extend their lead to 3-0.
Hunter has Irish visitors
Torii Hunter, always with a smile, had more reason be happy Saturday afternoon, heading out to batting practice with his son, Notre Dame receiver Torii Jr. and former Irish player T.J. Jones with him.
Torii Jr. will be a sophomore this fall for the Irish. Jones, a 6-foot, 195-pound receiver, was a late-round draft pick (189th overall) of the Lions.
Torii treated his guests to a 2-for-5 night at the plate with an RBI in the opening inning.
Jackson out of slump?
Jackson, who collected three hits, entered the game in a 15-for-90 slump over the previous 25 games which had his average slip from .305 to .241. Jackson, batting seventh, singled in the second and scored, singled in the third and singled in the fifth.