Four Detroit Tigers players bounced into the dugout late in the third inning Sunday afternoon. Zach McKinstry went first, receiving high-fives throughout his run from start to finish, followed by Akil Baddoo, Nick Maton and Riley Greene.
A hockey helmet landed on Baddoo’s head, provided by Spencer Torkelson, as he descended the steps and entered the dugout. At the end of the dugout, Baddoo used a hockey stick to send a puck into the back of the net to celebrate a grand slam against right-hander Dylan Cease.
The vibes were immaculate in round three, and the vibes were even better by the end of the game. A ninth-inning comeback led to a 6-5 10th-inning victory over the Chicago White Sox in the series finale at Comerica Park. Eric Haase made a sacrificial volley to end the game with two outs.
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The Tigers (25-26) entered Sunday’s series finale two games under a record .500 for the 11th time this season. Coming off a win, the Tigers improved to 2-9 in those 11 games and moved within a game of a record .500 for the first time since April 4.
Detroit is 15-9 in May and 23-17 in 40 games since April 13.
Baddoo was one of the Tigers’ best players in May, hitting .304 with an .882 OPS in 20 games that month. Only Greene and McKinstry were more productive in the second month of the season.
No seventh heaven
But the Tigers ran into trouble in the top of the seventh inning. Right-handed reliever Will Vest charged with one out on two singles and a walk, forcing the Tigers to turn to right-hander Jose Cisnero for a matchup with Eloy Jimenez.
Jimenez, fresh off the disabled list, hit Cisnero’s third-pitch lead for a bloop double into left field and drove in two runs, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 4-3 and putting the runners to the second and third places. Luis Robert, the next hitter, hit low ground at McKinstry in the third, but Tim Anderson beat the pitch home. McKinstry is known for his powerful throwing arm, but Anderson’s speed tied the score, 4-4.
Then Andrew Vaughn gave the White Sox the lead, 5-4, with a sacrifice fly.
In the eighth, Greene robbed Jake Burger of a home run with a leaping catch into center field while colliding with the wall. He received a standing ovation from Comerica Park fans.
Greene also gave the offense a boost in the bottom of the ninth.
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With one out, Greene fired the two-shot slider from right-handed reliever Joe Kelly to right center. Robert tried to cut it with a slide, but the ball went past him and Greene ended up standing third. Javier Báez followed with a weak ground to Anderson at shortstop, but Anderson popped the ball trying to throw home, and Greene scored to tie the game, 5-5.
Right-handed reliever Alex Lange then retired all three batters in the top of the 10th inning. Late in the inning, Jonathan Schoop advanced the free runner on the off-inning to third base with a deep flyout. The White Sox intentionally walked Baddoo and Haase provided the sack fly.
Southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez threw another gem in his 11th start of the season.
The 30-year-old allowed one run on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts, throwing 65 of 100 pitches for strikes. Anderson opened the game with a brace, but Rodriguez struck out the next seven batters.
It was then that Romy Gonzalez put the White Sox ahead, 1-0, with a solo home run on Rodriguez’s first pitch fastball. He turned on an inside heater and sent the ball over the left field wall.
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Rodriguez went the rest of the way.
He allowed consecutive hitters to reach safely with one out in the sixth inning: Vaughn (single) and Yasmani Grandal (on walks). But that was followed by a late-inning double play from Burger after a visit to the mound from pitching coach Chris Fetter.
Rodriguez threw 36% four-seam fastballs, 28% changeovers, 25% cutters, 6% sinkers and 5% sliders on Sunday. He recorded 12 puffs and 16 strikes called, with his fastball averaging 92.4 mph.
The Tigers finished 1 of 12 with runners in scoring position and blocked eight runners.
This included Zack Short leaving the bases loaded with a flyout in the second inning. Greene grounded Short at second with a strikeout in the fourth inning. Haase blocked two runners with a popout in the fifth inning. Báez blocked two runners with a groundout in the sixth inning.
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Cease, who dominated the Tigers throughout his career undefeated at Comerica Park, allowed four runs on four hits and four walks with eight strikeouts.
The Tigers allowed him to go four innings, throwing 64 of 102 pitches for strikes, as they failed to capitalize on their scoring chances. Left-handed reliever Garrett Hook walked three batters in the fifth and sixth innings combined.
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers rally to defeat Chicago White Sox, 6-5 (10)