'He's had an incredible week:' Haase keeps finding ways to contribute to Tigers' wins
Kansas City, Mo. — It’s very rare that Tigers manager AJ Hinch will ask the umpire for a video review of a play he hasn’t already gotten video confirmation on. But, when Eric Haase emphatically signaled to the dugout after being called out at the plate in the fourth inning of the Detroit Tigers' 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday, Hinch didn’t wait.
With the way things have been going for Haase, why would he?
“He was so emphatic, he convinced me to challenge it before I even got confirmation,” Hinch said. “That’s a feather in his cap, too. He’s done everything right.”
Isn’t that the truth.
Haase, who was safe at the plate and the call was overturned, got two more hits Friday to extend his hitting streak to five games and raise his average to .333 in the seven games he’s played since coming up from Triple-A Toledo.
He made his second start in left field Friday and threw out Andrew Benintendi at second base trying to stretch a single to a double in the first inning.
It was a continuation of what has been a magical week for the Dearborn Divine Child graduate.
“He hit two home runs against the Mariners (Tuesday) and followed that up by catching a no-hitter (Spencer Turnbull’s on Wednesday) — that’s probably historical,” Hinch said. “And now he throws a guy out at second. He’s had an incredible week.”
The Tigers are 6-1 in the seven games Haase has been in the lineup.
“The validation for him is that he’s taken the opportunity and contributed wherever I’ve put him in,” Hinch said. “And I haven’t even put him at first base yet. (Ramon) Santiago and (Chip) Hale have been telling me he can handle first base if we need him to.
“I’m just proud of him taking the opportunity and contributing to winning.”
Haase was not in the lineup Saturday against right-handed pitcher Brady Singer. Hinch had pre-determined that Wilson Ramos would catch Matthew Boyd and he wanted to use left-handed hitters Nomar Mazara and Akil Baddoo against Singer.
“But Haase might come off the bench and get the biggest pinch-hit of the game,” Hinch said. “You never know.”
Niko Goodrum was also not in the lineup Saturday. It was partly a chance to get left-handed hitting and red-hot Harold Castro into the lineup. It was also partly a chance to let Goodrum reset. He’s made six errors in his last 12 starts at shortstop.
“He’s had some errors on plays he normally makes,” Hinch said. “He’s very sure-handed. The error total doesn’t tell me whether he’s sure-handed or not, the error total tells me the execution hasn’t been there. And it frustrates him because it’s one thing he probably takes the most pride in — his ability to play defense at the shortstop position.”
Most of the errors have come from poor footwork, which is extremely unusual for Goodrum. He’s been tentative and playing too many balls on his heels. He and second baseman Jonathan Schoop had a miscommunication on a ground ball by Nicky Lopez leading off the fifth inning Friday.
They both converged on a routine ground ball hit into the shift and neither made the play. Lopez ended up at second base, representing the tying run at the time. Tigers starter Jose Urena stranded Lopez to bail them out.
“I trust that Niko is going to make the adjustments and get back to making those plays,” Hinch said. “But it can get to you mentally. He’s a better defensive player than the way he’s playing right now.”
Around the horn
Hinch said he informed Ramos that, with Haase and Jake Rogers active, he would be catching less than he was earlier in the season: “When I met with him in Seattle and told him, ‘Listen, you’re not going to catch as much as you were prior to going on the injured list.’”
Hinch said Ramos handled the news like a pro. Ramos was a minus-4 defensive runs saved.
… With his two home runs Friday, Cabrera became the Tigers' all-time leader with 33 multiple home run games. He broke a tie with Hank Greenberg. Cabrera, entering play Saturday, was 15 for 42 since May 7. Not coincidentally, the Tigers were 8-3 in that stretch.