Greiner delivers clutch HR, Tigers bash way out of slump in 'big win' over Twins
Minneapolis — The fight level is off the charts with this team.
The Tigers, trying to snap a four-game losing skid, trailed the Twins 6-2 and 7-5 Sunday but wouldn't stop hitting the baseball.
And when Grayson Greiner's fly ball off reliever Sergio Romo in the eighth inning just cleared the wall in left — tipping off the glove of left-fielder Eddie Rosario — the dugout erupted, players yelling and screaming and pounding on the padded screen.
Greiner's third home run of the year and just his fourth hit since mid-August broke a 7-7 tie and the Tigers went on to beat the Twins 10-8. Losing streak — over.
"We'd lost some tough games in the last couple of days," Greiner said. "And then you get down 6-2 and it's easy to sulk and not give much of a fight. It's a credit to our guys in the dugout and to our coaches for keeping things positive.
"It took a lot of resolve to dig deep down and come up with this win."
Greiner hit a 3-2 slider off Romo.
"I felt really good to come through for the team; I've had my struggles this year," Greiner said. "I've just tried to stay positive all the time and try not to get down on myself...Romo is a really good pitcher and he has a really good slider. With a full count, I thought I might get it there.
"I was able to get just enough of it. Rosario scared me there. He's made those plays before. But I was happy. That's a big win for our team. We needed that."
Bench coach Lloyd McClendon was at the helm again, subbing for Ron Gardenhire who continued to battle a stomach virus.
"Gardy is fine," he said. "I talked to him right after we got off the field. He was drinking his Pedialyte and feeling better. He'll be back tomorrow."
The emotions in the Tigers' dugout were running high all game, even when they trailed 6-2, the players were on the top step chirping.
"You don't want to lose five in a row," McClendon said. "Particularly the way we lost the last four. Guys were determined, they had that mindset coming into the game. We knew it was going to be an uphill battle, particularly with the number of guys we had out in the bullpen.
"But our offense really stepped up."
The Tigers ended up pounding out 17 hits.
►Former Twin Jonathan Schoop had a double in a two-run seventh inning and a bizarre RBI triple in the eighth. He hit a ball that one-hopped off the limestone down the left field line. Rosario apparently forgot the ground rules, because that ball was in play and he stopped thinking it was a ground-rule double.
►Greiner, besides his home run, had a clutch, two-out single in a three-run sixth inning.
►Shortstop Willi Castro knocked in three runs with a 409-foot, two-run home run into the upper deck in right-center field in the sixth and a two-out single that tied the game in the seventh.
►First baseman Jeimer Candelario had three hits and an RBI.
►Jorge Bonifacio had two hits and scored twice; Victor Reyes had two hits, a walk and scored a run. Miguel Cabrera, extending his hitting streak to 13 games (his longest since 2015) had two hits and an RBI.
►And rookie Sergio Alcantara, in his first big-league game, homered in his first big-league at-bat. He's one of eight Tigers ever to do that, the last was Daniel Norris off the Cubs' Jon Lester in 2015.
Asked for the reaction in the dugout to Alcantara's blast, McClendon said, "I don't know, I fainted and I woke up in the dugout (laughter). I don't think anybody in that dugout expected a home run in his first at-bat.
"Good for that young man. He's worked hard to get here."
Down 6-2 after five innings, they scored eight times off Twins relievers between the sixth and eighth.
Before that, though, things were looking bleak for the Tigers.
Casey Mize’s fourth start wasn’t appreciably different than the first three. He had to grind to get through four innings and lasted only one batter into the fifth. His command was better in this one, though he did walk two hitters and engaged in several long at-bats.
Mostly, though, the put-out pitch eluded him. He got just seven misses on 45 swings, with 24 foul balls. He threw 17 splitters, his money pitch, and didn’t get a single whiff.
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"I don't think he had that last-four-foot bite on it that he's had in the past," Greiner said. "It was more of a change-up today and he left a few up that they got hits off it. I have no doubt he's going to go work over the next four days and come back and have a good outing."
Mize ended up giving up three runs and five hits in four innings.
"It's hard up here in the big leagues," Greiner said. "These are the best players in the world. You're not going to come up here and throw eight scoreless every time, no matter who you are.
"Everyone gets their bumps and bruises in the big leagues. But Casey kept us in the game without his best stuff. He battled."
The Tigers went into the game hoping not to use backend relievers Jose Cisnero, Buck Farmer, Joe Jimenez and Gregory Soto. Cisnero, Farmer and Soto had pitched in two straight games and the Tigers are in a stretch of having to play 12 games in 10 days.
Right-hander Kyle Funkhouser picked up the slack, pitching a scoreless seventh and keeping the game tied and then getting the Tigers through the eighth, allowing only a solo home run to Rosario. He picked up his first big-league win.
"It's flowing a lot better and it seems like the coaching staff is trusting me more," Funkhouser said. "It just feels good to get the win, for the team to get the win. Hopefully, I can build off it."
He's going to have to fight Bryan Garcia for the game ball and for the lineup card. Garcia picked up his first career save.
"We've been playing good baseball," McClendon said. "We're 6-4 in our last 10 and we could've easily been 10-0. It was big to get off that losing streak. To be able to open up the paper tomorrow and not see 'Five losses in a row,' that's important for the psyche."