Cespedes slam leads Tigers' 15-2 rout of Orioles
Lakeland, Fla. – Sometimes a translator is not necessary.
Yoenis Cespedes, in his third at-bat of his first Grapefruit League game, blasted a grand slam to ignite the Tigers' 15-2 rout of the Orioles Tuesday.
When a reporter said, "Nice way to introduce yourself to the Tigers fans," Cespedes nodded and smiled, and continued on to the shower area.
It was the equivalent of dropping the mic.
"He's a strong man," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He'll do that every once in a while and I hope he does it often."
Ian Kinsler blasted the first pitch he saw from reliever Chris Jones more than 400-feet onto the berm in left center field for a three-run homer. Rookie first baseman Aaron Westlake also homered for the Tigers.
"It was just nice to play baseball," Kinsler said. "It's nice to have some good weather back. The sun was shining, the place was full – it's always exciting."
His home run trot was in regular-season form. He broke into it almost right out of the box.
"I hit it OK," he said. "That's a pretty deep part of the park. It was either going to get caught or go over. The wind carried it out."
The only scare for the Tigers came during a seven-run second inning off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Third baseman Nick Castellanos was hit in the left hand with a Jimenez fastball. He stayed in the game initially, but when the Tigers batted around, he was replaced.
"It's not bad," Castellanos said. "Just broke some blood vessels and it swelled up. They wanted me to put ice on it quickly. Nothing is broken; I had it X-rayed."
There is a chance Castellanos could play Wednesday in Sarasota, against Baltimore again.
"Seems like we (dodged a bullet)," Ausmus said. "I think he will be fine. We will evaluate him in the morning and if he's OK, he'll play. But we won't know until tomorrow. We have to see how he gets through the night."
Six different Tigers have been hit by pitches the last two days – Rajai Davis and Austin Green against Florida Southern; Castellanos, Alex Avila, Kinsler and minor leaguer Wade Gaynor against the Orioles.
"There is no intent there," Ausmus said. "It's early in spring and pitchers don't have their command. But you don't want anyone getting hurt and it looks like nobody did – fortunately."
Closer Joe Nathan worked an interesting inning. He got the first two batters out on four pitches. He then threw 17 to get the final out. He gave up two singles and got the third out on a liner to left that Daniel Fields made a superb running catch to end the inning.
"Overall it felt good for a first outing," he said. "I mixed in four-seamers, two-seamers, sliders – some were decent, some backed up on me. Overall, I sure did get my work in."
His fastball got to 92 mph. His slider, which is his primary weapon, was sharper in live batting practice earlier in the week than it was Tuesday.
"I felt strong," Nathan said. "But this is good because I got some knowledge and feel for where my breaking pitches are. I still want to get those dialed in a little better. (The break) was a little lateral than downhill. But that is simple to feel and get back in."
Nathan threw more than usual in the bullpen while the Tigers added four more runs courtesy of Cespedes.
"It was a plus and a minus," he said. "It was a plus because I got to throw more pitches, which is always good in spring training sessions. You get more work and feel for your pitches. After two outs and just four pitches, I was thinking, 'Wow, I really need some more work.'
"So, 17 pitches later I got some more work in."
Starter Kyle Lobstein threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits. Alberto Cabrera, Tom Gorzelanny, Nathan, Josh Zeid, Luke Putkonen and Rafael Dolis threw scoreless innings.
Alex Wilson gave up four hits and two runs in the ninth.
Anibal Sanchez will start against the Orioles Wednesday.