Bad juju: Tigers first lose Hill, then get blitzed by M's in 11 innings
Detroit – The portends were ominous.
Harold Castro, who was supposed to start at third base, was scratched with a right hand injury before the game. Then in the top of the first, just three batters in, Derek Hill crashed into the wall in center field while making an incredible running catch of a 429-foot rocket hit by Kyle Seager.
He left the game with a right shoulder sprain. Rookie Isaac Paredes replaced Castro and rookie Akil Baddoo took over for Hill.
And after starter Casey Mize hit two of the first four hitters he faced, well, it didn’t look good for the home team.
It didn't end good, either.
After the teams swapped runs in the 10th, the Mariners scored five times off reliever Daniel Norris in the top of the 11th and beat the Tigers 9-6 in front of a small (9,162) but lively crowd at Comerica Park.
"It was a crazy game all the way around," said Tigers catcher Jake Rogers, who homered, scored two runs and threw out two runners. "It started off crazy with Derek Hill making that catch, just an unbelievable catch by him.
"Back and forth game, but a tough loss for sure."
Left fielder Jake Fraley, who took a game-winning home run away from Paredes in the bottom of the ninth, singled home one run. Rookie Dillon Thomas, making his big-league debut, knocked in two more with his first big-league hit, and Tom Murphy capped it with a two-run double.
The Mariners ended up sending nine hitters to the plate against Norris in the 11th.
The Tigers got two back in the bottom of the 11th on a two-run home run by Robbie Grossman — ironic that one went out after two long fly balls, potential walk-off blasts, didn't.
Don't sleep on omens.
The Tigers were ready to celebrate a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth.
With a runner on in the bottom of the ninth, game tied 3-3, Paredes sent one on a line toward the bullpen in left field. It had two-run walk-off written all over it until Fraley reached over the fence, snared it and brought it back.
"When he came up to bat I told him, 'Nice catch — don't ever do that again, please,'" Rogers said. 'I was on the bench and when he hit it I jumped up on the top step. I thought he got enough of it.
"But Fraley brought it back."
He not only brought it back, he also ended up doubling up pinch-runner Eric Haase who had already rounded second.
"That was an emotional turn of events when you think the game is over and it turns out to be a double play," manager AJ Hinch said. "And you still have to keep playing. Frustrating turn of events."
The Tigers just missed another walk-off in the bottom of the 10th. After Mariners J.P. Crawford singled home the go-ahead run, Baddoo sent a high, arching drive down the right field line. Again, arms were raised in celebration. But the ball hooked foul.
The Tigers caught a break, though. The next pitch from reliever J.T. Chargois got past catcher Murphy and Paredes, the free runner, was able to score from third and the game went to the 11th.
The Tigers had control of this game for the first five innings. Mize settled in and allowed just one hit with six strikeouts through five innings and the Tigers broke on top 3-0.
They scratched out a run in the third. Rogers walked, went to second on a single by Baddoo and smartly tagged and advanced to third on a fly out to center. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Schoop.
With one out in the fifth, Rogers unloaded on a 94-mph fastball and sent it 423 feet over the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center. That’s where the big boys hit them. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 106 mph.
"I got it pretty good," Rogers said with a grin.
Baddoo followed with a 421-foot shot, this one to center, that hopped into the shrubs for a ground rule double. Robbie Grossman singled him home.
The Mariners, though, turned it all around with one prodigious swing. Seager, again. This time he made sure nobody would catch it. With two on in the sixth, he locked on to a 96-mph fastball from Mize and sent it 426 feet onto the Pepsi Porch in right field.
"The longer that at-bat went the more comfortable Seager got," Hinch said. "I don't think Casey felt comfortable throwing any pitch."
It was an eight-pitch at-bat, but Mize threw just one slider — the first pitch of the at-bat. The reason for that was, it was a slider Seager hit to the wall in center in the first inning that Hill ran down.
"When we got two strikes, we went heater in and beat him pretty good so we went back to it and he fouled it off," Rogers said. "I wanted to go heater again down and away but I think it was too much middle.
"Tip your cap, he hit it far."
The last three pitches in that at-bat were four-seam fastball -- 95, 95.4 and 96 mph. Foul, foul — kaboom.
"That changed the entire complex of Casey's night," Hinch said.
Most of the talk after, though, centered around Hill.
"I've seen that kid run down balls, run into walls, lay there for a minute and get back up," Rogers said. "He's a tough guy. Hope he's OK."
Hill was still getting tests afterward, but the Tigers pulled center fielder Daz Cameron out of the game in Toledo just in case they needed to bring him up.
"I didn't love what he was describing coming off the field," Hinch said. "I was trying to keep his spirits up but he was pretty down. My history with players, when they are a little fearful like that, it never feels good. We'll see."
Hill, the Tigers first-round pick in 2014, was finally getting his first steady playing time in the big leagues. He was making his fifth straight start in center Wednesday after leading the Tigers to a win Tuesday night with a couple of run-saving catches, two hits, a stolen base and an RBI.
He got his usual good read on the ball and had Seager’s blast timed up as he went to the wall. But he never slowed down and crashed at full speed, just a few feet to the right of the visitor’s bullpen. His right shoulder seemed to absorb most of the contact and he was in obvious pain.
"Just unbelievable," Rogers said. "I don't think I even put my hands over my head or anything because I've seen him do things like that so many times. It's almost like second nature for him.
"To see him have to leave the game, that's tough."