Greene's clutch, ninth-inning hit wasted in Padres' first ever win in Detroit

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – It didn't end well for the Tigers Tuesday night.

A clutch, game-tying single by rookie Riley Greene in the bottom of the ninth dissolved quickly into a nightmare 10th inning for the Tigers and a 6-4 win for the San Diego Padres — their first ever win in Detroit after seven straight losses spaced over 38 years.

But let's start with Greene. 

The Tigers were down 3-0 in the seventh. It was like watching a replay of an old Cleveland-Detroit game from 2018 or 2019 with herky-jerky right-hander Mike Clevinger carving up Tigers’ hitters.

He rolled through the first six innings allowing three hits and getting a lot of softly-struck outs. The only difference was the uniform. 

But Jeimer Candelario got him in the seventh. Miguel Cabrera led off with a double into the corner in left. It was his 606th career double, moving him into a tie with Paul Waner for 14th all-time.

Candelario, who hit two homers on Monday and also doubled in a run in the bottom of the 10th, lined a 2-0 cutter into the seats in right field. For all his offensive struggles through the first four months, he now leads the team with 10 home runs.

"It was just a sense of momentum right there," Greene said. "We just followed that up and started to swing the bat better."

Tigers' Miguel Cabrera hits a double against the Padres during the seventh inning.

When Greene, a left-handed hitter, came to bat in the ninth against lefty closer Taylor Rogers, it was a 3-2 game, there were two on and two out and he fell into a fast 0-2 hole with a couple of bad swings at sliders.

"I was kind of prepared to die at that point," Greene said. 

He didn't mean he was prepared to lose the battle. Oh no. He was selling out for another slider, even if that meant wearing Rogers' next-best pitch, a two-seam fastball, off his body. 

"I know it's funny but he has a sinker, so I got up on the plate," Greene said. "If he throws that (two-seamer), it probably hits me because it's going to sink, it's got heavy sink on it. So I put my body out there. 

"He threw me another slider and I got it."

BOX SCORE: Padres 6, Tigers 4 (10)

He hit it off the end of the bat but dropped it into right field, scoring Willi Castro from second base and tying the game.

"When you don't look good on two sliders, he's probably going to give you another one," Greene said. "I was going to be on time for the fastball, but if he throws the slider again, I've given myself a chance to hit it."

Did we mention this is a rookie with all of 150 big-league plate appearances under his belt? 

Detroit Tigers' Riley Greene singles against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of their baseball game Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Detroit.

"He's been comfortable against lefties but you still have to do it in the big leagues," manager AJ Hinch said. "Against their closer with the game on the line, that's a sign of maturity and success. 

"That's a big moment for him. We needed to continue the game that way."

That didn't happen. 

All-Star closer Gregory Soto had pitched a quick, clean ninth inning, so quick and clean, Hinch sent him back out for the 10th.

"It was a little bit of that and a little bit that everybody else in the pen had pitched two of the last three games and worked last night," Hinch said. "We're pretty beat up in the pen and he was very efficient."

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Also, with a free runner at second to start the 10th, the first hitter up for the Padres was left-handed hitting Jake Cronenworth -- a good matchup for lefty Soto.

But it all went bad in a hurry and Soto ended up giving up three runs without allowing a hit. He hit Cronenworth. Manny Machado reached on a throwing error by shortstop Javier Báez.

Soto then drilled Luke Voit to force in a run. After he struck out Matthew Batten for the second out, Hinch brought in right-hander Jason Foley to face right-handed hitting Jorge Alfaro.

"I loved the matchup with Alfaro and Foley's sinker," Hinch said. "But he misfired."

Foley's first pitch was a sinker up, not down as intended, and Alfaro lined into right field — two-run single.  

Three runs, all unearned because of the Báez error, one hit, one walk and two hit batsmen — it was bad enough the fans who were still in the park were chanting, "Deetroit Basketball."

"Gregory walked that fine line in the 10th," Hinch said. "Punched a couple guys out, hit a couple guys."

It was a grind for Tigers’ rookie starter Garrett Hill, but he scratched and clawed his way through five innings. He was living on the fringes of the strike zone and the Padres hitters were patient, drawing four walks and pushing his pitch count to 68 after three innings.

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All the damage, though, came with two outs in the third. Voit, who just missed a home run in the first inning, drove a two-run double off the top of the padded wall in center field, just out of the reach of Greene.

"I jumped too early," Greene said. "I was trying to keep my glove on the field side of the fence. With the bushes, if I reach out my glove hits the bushes. I tried to jump straight up but I jumped too early."

After a walk to Eric Hosmer, Alfaro hit another ball over Greene’s head in center, this one an RBI ground-rule double. Had the ball not bounced into the shrubs, two runs would’ve scored.

Hill, who only got four swings-and-misses and two strikeouts, set down seven of the last eight batters he faced.

The Tigers' bullpen, until the 10th, was stellar. Scoreless innings by Alex Lange, Jose Cisnero, Michael Fulmer and Soto kept the Padres' run total at three through nine innings.

"I'm very proud of our guys," Hinch said. "Clevinger was dealing and we were down three. With how the offense has been the last three or four months, it would have been really easy to lay down.

"Our guys hung in there and gave it a run."

Twitter: @cmccosky