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Tigers turn to Riley Greene for spark against Rangers

Sportsnaut
Jun 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Riley Greene (31) makes a throw in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Riley Greene cannot get all the credit for turning around the Detroit Tigers’ offense, but the lineup certainly looks better with the prized rookie in it.

The center fielder reached base four times in his major league debut on Saturday and the Tigers scored a season high in runs while defeating the Texas Rangers 14-4.

They’ll play the finale of a four-game series on Sunday.

Detroit had lost six straight and got shut out five times this month, including Friday’s game, before Greene’s callup from Triple-A Toledo. He blooped a single in his first at-bat. He added a pair of walks and another single while making just one out.

“Once I got that first one out of the way, all the nerves went away,” he said in a postgame TV interview.

Greene, MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 ranked prospect, was elevated when Austin Meadows was placed on the COVID-19 injured list. His debut was delayed by a broken foot suffered during the final week of spring training.

Everyone in the Tigers’ lineup except Javier Baez notched at least two hits and Baez hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Greene scored two runs while batting sixth.

“I’m seeing the ball well and we swung it really good,” he said. “They were just passing the baton,” he said. “They just gave me those opportunities and I took advantage of them.”

It was a rare opportunity for manager A.J. Hinch to describe an offensive outburst by the league’s lowest-scoring team.

“The entire lineup did something positive today, so that’s good,” he said. “We’ve had it before (during) this year. This is not the first breakout game (but) we’ve had long stretches (of futility) in between. I’m thankful for it. Our team needed it, our staff needed it, our fans needed it. We needed to have a good game and we did and that’s exciting.”

On Sunday, right-hander Drew Hutchison (0-4, 4.58) will make his 12th appearance but just his second start this season for Detroit. That start came this past Tuesday, when he gave up two runs and four hits in four innings to the Chicago White Sox.

Hutchison has made three career starts against Texas, going 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA.

Dane Dunning (1-4, 4.04) will be making his 14th start of the season for the Rangers. The right-hander held an opponent scoreless for the first time this year in his last start, but he still didn’t get the win. He limited the Astros to two hits in six innings, but Texas went on to lose a 4-3 decision.

Dunning has two no-decisions in both of his career starts against the Tigers, including a five-inning outing last July when he held them to one run on one hit.

The Rangers gave up a season-high in runs on Saturday, including eight allowed by starter Taylor Hearn.

“We’re going to come back fighting tomorrow,” manager Chris Woodward said. “On the pitching side, just way too many mistakes.”

Texas had held the Tigers to one run in the first two games of the series.

“This lineup, they haven’t been scoring a ton of runs,” Woodward said of Detroit. “If you execute against them, you can get them out and we just didn’t do that today.”

–Field Level Media