Detroit Tigers win first season game in extra innings following 0-3 start


Teddy Morin

Comerica Park during TigerFest 2018. January 27, 2018.

The Detroit Tigers started off the 2023 regular season with three consecutive losses against the Tampa Bay Rays, following up with a 7-6 win against the Houston Astros on April 3.

The Tigers scored their first two runs in the second inning with a single to deep right field from catcher Eric Haase, which drove in right fielder Matt Vierling and first baseman Spencer Torkelson, two of the three runners on loaded bases. Detroit scored two more runs in the fifth inning with an RBI single from second baseman Javier Báez that scored third baseman Nick Maton from second base, and a bases-loaded walk from Torkelson that scored Riley Greene.

The Astros retaliated by scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth, tying the game up. According to theScore, shortstop Jeremy Peña reached first base on a fielder’s choice that scored second baseman Mauricio Dubón from third and left fielder Yordan Alvarez homered, scoring both Peña and third baseman Alex Bregman. The home run marked Alvarez as the “fastest player in Astros history to hit 100 HRs,” according to MLB

Both teams scored an additional run later on in the game, with the Tigers scoring in the seventh inning with a home run from Greene and the Astros scoring in the ninth inning with an RBI double from first baseman José Abreu, tying the game at six runs each and pushing the series opener into extra innings. 

Even with the extra inning rule, where a runner is placed on second base, neither team scored a run during the 10th inning. The Tigers left the half-inning following a pop-out and two groundouts and the Astros grounded out, flew out and struck out. With Torkelson on second, left fielder Austin Meadows grounded out to first base, advancing Torkelson to third. Vierling followed Meadows’s at-bat (AB) by hammering a pitch to center field, pushing the Tigers back into the lead at 7-5 and did not score any insurance runs.

With Garrett Hill on the mound for the Tigers, the Astros almost made another comeback after scoring another run on a grounder to Báez. Báez almost assisted in a double play, but Torkelson was unable to field the throw to first, so Houston’s catcher Yainer Diaz scored from third base. 

On Mar. 30, Opening Day, the Tigers were shut out 4-0 with six hits, leaving 12 players on base. Eduardo Rodríguez, the Opening Day starter for the Tigers, pitched 5.1 innings with five strikeouts, two walks, one home run and three hits. The relievers following Rodríguez, Jason Foley (0.2 innings), Chasen Shreve (1.0 inning) and Mason Englert (1.0 inning), gave up a combined three hits and one home run, throwing no strikeouts or walks. 

Meadows, the Tigers’ top offensive performer on Opening Day, recorded three hits out of four AB with four total bases (TB). Designated hitter Miguel Cabrera also managed to get a hit, which was a double to left field, pushing his record to the 24th most hits in MLB history and passing his friend Ichiro Suzuki, who retired from professional baseball with 3,089 hits. Cabrera, who is retiring at the end of the season, motioned for the ball to be saved as the game was the last Opening Day game of his career.

On the other side of the game, the Rays concluded Opening Day at Tropicana Field, their home turf, with six hits, two home runs and 12 TB. Shane McClanahan, the starting pitcher for the Rays, let up four hits and one walk, striking out six batters across six innings pitched.

The last two games of the opening series finalized with scores of 12-2 on April 1 and 5-1 on April 2. Zach Eflin, the starting pitcher for the second game of the series, made his Tampa Bay debut by allowing only three hits, one run and one walk, throwing five strikeouts across five innings. The 28-year-old Floridian signed a three-year, $40 million contract with the Rays after being released into free agency following his seven-year service with the Philadelphia Phillies, making his contract the largest in Rays history according to The Associated Press.

In the final game of the series, the Tigers only recorded two hits, one of them being a home run from catcher Jake Rogers, who was playing his first game since 2021, which was due to his undergoing Tommy John surgery, according to Evan Woodbery.