Detroit — Water off a duck’s back.
The Tigers were without four of their top hitters against nasty left-hander James Paxton, who was coming off a no-hitter five days ago. No big deal.
The Tigers, with completely self-inflicted wounds, blew a two-run lead in the top of the eighth inning. No big deal.
“We do a really good job here of putting our heads down and just moving forward,” left fielder Mikie Mahtook said after the Tigers’ walk-off, 5-4 win over the Mariners Sunday. “Just play. Just get it back. Once something happens, you can’t get it back. So just focus back in.”
In the span of an inning, the Tigers went from kicking themselves to hugging it out in the middle of the diamond after Jose Iglesias’ game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth.
“You do the best you can with the people you have,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose lineup Sunday was devoid of Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos, Leonys Martin and Jeimer Candelario. “They’re all big-league players and we expect them to go out and try to find a way to win. That’s the only way we know how to go about the game.
“We have some people beat up, but that’s when you have to pick each other up.”
Niko Goodrum picked them up, banging out three hits including an opposite-field home run off Paxton. Mahtook picked them up with a single, double and two RBIs. Blaine Hardy, making a spot start in place of injured Jordan Zimmermann, picked them up with a solid 4.1 innings to keep the Tigers close early.
“It was a really good baseball game, all the way through,” Gardenhire said. “Our starter gave us everything he had. For him to hang in the way he did was great. Our bullpen came in and pretty much everybody did their job.
“We missed a little play and that always hurts you.”
Ugh. That eighth inning. The Tigers were up 4-2 with Joe Jimenez on the mound. With one on and two out, he had a 1-2 count on pinch-hitter Ben Gamel — and hit him in the foot. The next hitter, speedy Dee Gordon, hit a routine ground ball to first base. John Hicks flipped a low, but catch-able throw that Jimenez dropped.
Jimenez got two quick strikes on Jean Segura but threw a 90-mph pitch (slider, possibly) that caught too much of the plate and Segura slapped it to center, scoring two runs and tying the game.
“You can’t fret on something that went wrong,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve been playing wild, crazy baseball games and you’re always going to have something that didn’t work out too well. Something that maybe didn’t look right and you say, ‘Why’d they do that?’
“But in the end, people are going to have to worry about us because we put some pressure out there. That’s how we want to play.”
JaCoby Jones started the ninth inning, against reliever Juan Nicasio, with a chopper to the left side of the infield. Third baseman Kyle Seager and shortstop Segura converged and the ball got by them both, rolling into shallow left field.
Jones, head down and sprinting, didn’t see the ball roll past them. Nor did he see first base coach Ramon Santiago telling him to round the base and look to second. He could have walked there. Instead, he sped through the base and down the first-base line.
“I was just trying to get down the line as fast as I could,” Jones said. “I felt bad. I was telling Niko he would’ve got the game-winning RBI.”
Goodrum, who had missed the last few games with a hip impingement, had the at-bat of the game. After fouling off five straight pitches, four with two strikes, he rifled a single to right field, sending Jones to third base.
“That was a great at-bat,” Gardenhire said. “He had great at-bats all day. That’s just about coming ready to play. He wants to play.”
Iglesias then knocked a 1-1 pitch through the drawn-in infield and the party ensued. It was the second straight winning home series for the Tigers.
“We didn’t connect on that play at first base (in the eighth inning),” Gardenhire said. “But this ball club came right back in the dugout and just go after it. Everybody had a quality at-bat. Niko had a great at-bat and Iggy got the big base hit.”
Water off a duck's back.
The loss was a double-whammy for the Mariners. Perennial All-Star Robinson Cano was hit on the right hand in the third inning by a pitch from Hardy. It was revealed he had a fracture of the fifth metacarpal bone. He will see a hand specialist on Tuesday and is out indefinitely.