Detroit — Gordon Beckham, told that the Tigers had avoided the ignominy of becoming the first Major League baseball team to lose 60 home games in a single season, nodded his head and deadpanned, "Crisis averted."
Their 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox Sunday, snapping a five-game losing streak, ensures them of no worse than a tie for the worst home record in history — with the 1939 St. Louis Browns (18-59) or the infamous 1962 New York Mets (22-58) — with a three-game series with the Twins remaining.
"Honestly, I didn't know how many we had to win to get that out of the way," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But if you're saying we won't do it, then I am fine with that. You don't want to do stuff like that.
"Setting records in a negative way is never a good thing."
The Tigers KO'd the White Sox with a four-home run barrage.
Jeimer Candelario’s two-run blast to right field in the first inning was his first home run since July 15, 130 plate appearances. It off-set the two-run home run that Eloy Jimenez hit off Tigers starter Matthew Boyd in the top of the first.
Beckham broke the tie in the second inning, hitting line drive over the fence in left field, his sixth of the year. And Victor Reyes, who had singled and scored in the first, lined one almost in the same spot in the fourth, his third.
"We did a lot of good things," Gardenhire said. "And we desperately needed a win. And going into a day off tomorrow, it's going to feel a lot better."
Rookie Willi Castro capped it with a solo shot leading off the seventh inning. It was his first big-league homer and he sprinted around the bases and into the congratulatory embraces of his teammates in the dugout.
"I was looking for it the last few days, looking for that first home run," Castro said. "I didn't want to leave here without a home run. It was something I've been looking for and it happened. It was amazing."
Castro got the requisite beer, shaving cream, shampoo, and whatever else was handy shower, but Beckham was asked why no silent treatment in the dugout?
"No, the silent treatment is for the guys who hit a lot of home runs," he said. "When we hit homers, we want to make sure we celebrate."
Boyd, starting after a 10-day layoff, pitched a laborious five innings, but ended up winning his third game in four starts.
"He's got one more start left, but you know what, I consider this a good season even if his record doesn't look like it," Gardenhire said. "He's made a name for himself."
All the damage against Boyd came with two outs. He needed 101 pitches to get through five, and he allowed three runs, eight hits and two walks — all three runs, five of the hits and both walks came after he had gotten the first two hitters out in the inning.
"This was a good team win," Boyd said. "That's one of the better hitting teams in the league, so to do what our pitching staff did today, the way they came in and struck out the heart of their order in the seventh and shut it down from that point forward was awesome to see."
The big hit off Boyd was Jimenez's two-out, two-run homer in the first. It was the 39th he's given up this season and the 242nd allowed by Tigers pitching — which is a new club record, breaking the mark of 241 set by the 1996 staff.
"I thought he threw the ball well," catcher Grayson Greiner said. "It was a lot of pitches for him, and I knew he will tell you he wishes he could've gotten deeper in the game. He gave up a lot of hits but not many with runners in scoring position.
"He made his best pitches when he needed to."
The Tigers' bullpen brought it home.
Right-handed side-armer John Schreiber allowed a single and struck out four in 1.2 innings — including Jose Abreu and Jimenez in the seventh. Nick Ramirez struck out Yoan Moncada to finish the seventh and Buck Farmer pitched a scoreless eighth.
Closer Joe Jimenez, helped by a nifty double-play turned against American League batting leader Tim Anderson by Castro, Beckham and Candelario, picked up his ninth save of the season.
"The goal is to win every game, right, but it's really important we take every day and understand the opportunity that is in front of us. What we do now, as it's been for the last few months, sets the tone going forward into next year.
"Next year isn't a foregone conclusion for where we're going to be in the standings or who's going to be on the roster. Everything is up for grabs. It's important that we set the tone for that now."