Misery and frustration enveloped the Detroit Tigers most of the season. Their playoff hopes quickly evaporated and they played so poorly that the organization fired general manager Al Avila.
As the season winds down, the Tigers are getting better. Led by a group of young players, they enjoyed their most successful road trip of the season last week. They’ll try to ride that momentum through the last 10 games, starting with a home game against Kansas City on Tuesday.
Detroit (60-92) took two of three from Baltimore, which remains in the wild-card race. The Tigers then bounced the Chicago White Sox from contention in the American League Central divisional race by sweeping a three-game weekend series.
“Best trip of the season,” manager AJ Hinch said. “Win a series in Baltimore when they were fighting for something. We sweep the White Sox when they were fighting for something. It’s important for us to play well, No. 1. And No. 2, when we get the results that we want and get rewarded for playing the game well, the guys love that.”
It was hard not to love Riley Greene’s catch in the fourth inning on Sunday, which robbed Andrew Vaughn of a two-run home run. The rookie center fielder raced over from right center and extended his glove over the wall.
“I was playing in the gap in right field but he hit it pretty high. I got a good jump and kind of knew where I was at,” Greene said. “Once (I) hit the track I knew I’d have to get up there. I jumped, said a prayer and threw my glove up.”
Greene also made major contributions from the leadoff spot during the series. He reached base eight times, scored three runs and drove in a pair. Fellow rookie Kerry Carpenter homered twice in Baltimore. Second-year player Akil Baddoo scored five runs and drove in four during the trip.
“Our goal is to come and play hard, no matter whether we’re in the playoffs or not,” Greene said.
Another rookie, left-hander Joey Wentz, is scheduled to pitch the opener of the three-game series. Wentz (2-2, 3.13 ERA) held the Orioles scoreless for 5 2/3 innings on Tuesday while collecting the victory. He blanked the Royals for 6 2/3 innings on Sept. 9 while notching first career win.
He’ll be opposed by veteran right-hander Zack Greinke (4-9, 4.21 ERA).
Greinke gave up four runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday against Minnesota. He’s 0-2 with three no-decisions in his last five starts.
He’s 13-8 with a 2.95 ERA in 31 career appearances (28 starts) against Detroit.
Kansas City (63-90) is coming off one of the greatest rallies in franchise history. The Royals scored 11 runs in the sixth inning on Sunday to erase a nine-run deficit and pull out a 13-12 victory over Seattle.
That matched their biggest comeback, as they also wiped out a nine-run deficit on June 15, 1979, in Milwaukee.
“That was one of the more wild games I’ve been a part of,” outfielder Ryan O’Hearn said. “It’s special. You don’t see it very often. Today was a fun one. It’s one I’ll remember for a long time.”
Second baseman Michael Massey led the way with four RBIs as the Royals won for the fifth time in six games.
“I don’t think a ton needs to be said,” Massey said. “It’s in us, in our blood. We’re competitive guys.”
–Field Level Media