The prevailing message after Thursday’s gut-wrenching loss to the Miami Marlins was how it was important to “stick together.”
If ever a baseball team was going to fracture, the way the Tigers lost in the final inning with five unearned runs — to the worst team in the league — that could have been a time to begin pointing fingers and break apart.
But the Tigers insisted they wouldn’t, and the way they pulled out a 9-8 victory Friday in New York against the Mets was a prime example of character and fortitude.
The victory ended an ugly 9-game losing streak.
The Tigers took an early lead, gave it all back, tied the score and lost it right back twice, then scored three big runs in the seventh inning to take the lead for keeps.
JaCoby Jones lined a two-run double into the corner, and scored on Brendon Dixon’s pinch-hit single, as the Tigers erased a 7-6 deficit.
The Tigers’ bullpen — Victor Alcantara, Joe Jiminez and Shane Greene (who lost Thursday’s lead) — held onto the lead over the last three innings.
Here are other observations from Friday's victory:
► Detroit's scoring: After the crushing disappointment the game before, a great start would have been helpful for the Tigers.
And that’s exactly what they got, scoring two first-inning runs. Nico Goodrum led off with a walk, stole second base, and moved to third on Christin Stewart’s single. Goodrum scored on Nicholas Castellanos’ RBI single. Miguel Cabrera made it 2-0, driving in Stewart with a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers extended the lead to 4-0 in the second inning. Josh Harrison led off with a single, then came around on Jones’ fifth home run, to left-center field.
Miguel Cabrera’s second home run this season tied the score 5-5 in the fourth.
In the sixth, Dawal Lugo led off with a pinch-hit single and moved to third on Goodrum’s double. Stewart tied the score 6-6, bringing in Lugo with a sacrifice fly.
In the seventh, trailing again, the Tigers rallied with three runs. Ronny Rodriguez reached base on a force out and reached third base on a John Hicks double. They both scored on Jones’ second hit, a two-run double, giving Jones four RBIs for the game. Jones scored on Dixon’s pinch-hit single.
► New York’s scoring: The Mets meekly went hitless their first time through the order and had two outs on two pitches (both groundouts) in the third inning, before Amed Rosario blasted his fifth home run, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 4-1.
It was a prelude to the next inning. In the fourth, the Mets exploded for four runs off Tigers’ starting pitcher Gregory Soto, taking a 5-4 lead.
Pete Alonso led off with a double and scored on Wilson Ramos’ single. After a strikeout, ex-Tiger Rajai Davis singled. Adeiny Hechavarria cleared the bases with an opposite-field three-run home run, his first home run and first three runs driven in this season.
Pete Alonso broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the fourth with his 17th home run.
The Mets broke a tie again in the bottom of the sixth, with pinch-hitter Aaron Altherr blasting a home run in his first at-bat as a Met, off reliever Buck Farmer.
Wilson Ramos greeted Jiminez in the eightth inning with his third home run, the fifth home run the Mets hit in the game, tying a season high, slicing the Tigers’ lead to 9-8.
► Mixed results: Soto breezed through the lineup the first time through the order, but the Mets caught up with him next time around. Soto allowed six hits and five runs over 3 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out four in his fourth career start.
The highlight of Soto’s evening?
Without a doubt, his hitting. In his first two major-league at-bats, Soto looped a single down the left-field line for his first major-league hit, then lined a single up the middle for his second career hit.
Soto became the first Tigers’ pitcher with two hits in a game since Justin Verlander (April 12, 2014).
► Solving Syndergaard: Owner of one of the game’s most powerful right arms and as intimidating a right-hander as there is, Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, nevertheless, wasn’t all that great against the Tigers.
Syndergaard only lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits, six earned runs, a walk, and two home runs. He struck out nine hitters, but watched his ERA rise to 4.93.
For the Mets to be respectable this season, Syndergaard has to get back to his usual form.
► Milestone march: Cabrera talked about finding his power earlier in the week and he did so in the fifth inning with a 386-foot opposite-field home run off Syndergaard.
With two hits Friday, Cabrera moved to 2,729 career hits, just three shy of Tony Perez (2,732) for 59th place all-time.
Cabrera’s two RBIs gives him 1,656, 28th all-time on the list, closing in on Sammy Sosa (1,667).
► Interleague struggles: The Tigers haven’t won often against anyone, anywhere, any time. But especially against the National League this season.
Friday’s win raised the Tigers’ record to 2-6 on the season. It also put an end to the Mets’ 7-game winning streak at Citi Field.
► The bullpen: Alcantara walked the lead-off batter in the seventh, then induced a double play and forced Alonso into a ground out to end the inning.
Jiminez opened the eighth allowing a home run to Ramos into the left-center field stands. Hechavarria doubled with two-out, but Jiminez struck out Dominic Smith to end the inning.
Greene, after a bitter disappointment the day before, cruised in the ninth, retiring three consecutive Mets hitters.
► Productive No. 9 spot: Two hits from Soto, and one each from pinch-hitters Lugo and Dixon made it a dynamic offensive spot in the order for the Tigers.
► ♦Next: The Tigers face the Mets for the second game of the three-game series with left-hander Ryan Carpenter making the start (4:10 p.m., FSD/97.1 FM).