ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Gardenhire didn't want the rash of recent Tigers injuries infecting his team's will to play hard. Their first couple innings Tuesday left him confident that it hadn't. The ending, not without drama, left him convinced.
"We've had some tough ones," Gardenhire said after Tuesday's 7-4 win over the Rangers at Globe Life Park. "We've been in the mix in a lot of games, and you have to win some. The guys needed this feeling."
Jeimer Candelario, Victor Martinez and Jose Iglesias homered as part of a five-run outburst over the first two innings, helping the Tigers to a comfortable early lead for the second consecutive night. But no Tigers lead is safe in Texas, and as the Rangers rallied in the eighth, Gardenhire did what he wanted to avoid going into the season, calling on closer Shane Greene for a four-out save.
"At least a four-out save," Gardenhire said. "It could've been more if we didn't get a couple other guys out."
That's how important Gardenhire felt this game was for his team's psyche.
"We just have to keep fighting," Greene said. "I keep saying we have a good group of guys in here who are never gonna quit. Injuries happen, and it's next man up. Just gotta keep fighting."
Detroit's early offense came without leadoff hitter Leonys Martin, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list after the game with a left hamstring strain, and Jose Cabrera, who's on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring strain. With a makeshift lineup that included JaCoby Jones leading off, John Hicks batting fifth and Niko Goodrum playing left field, the Tigers nonetheless flexed their right-handed-hitting muscles against Rangers southpaw Mike Minor (3-2).
Candelario's fifth home run of the season was a 419-foot drive to left-center field for a solo home run on Minor's fourth pitch of the evening. Nicholas Castellanos legged out an infield single on the next pitch before Martinez turned on a fastball and sent it down the left-field line for his third homer of the season.
Goodrum's leadoff single in the second set up Iglesias, who sent a 3-1 pitch over the right-field fence for his first home run since last Sept. 5, his first road homer since last July in Minnesota and his first opposite-field homer since he hit one off Chris Sale in 2016.
Six of Detroit's nine batters churned out hits the first time through the order. They managed only one more hit off Minor, who lasted seven innings, but tacked on a Hicks sacrifice fly in the eighth and Castellanos' RBI groundout in the ninth for insurance runs.
Tigers starter Mike Fiers (3-2), who was 0-3 with an 8.90 ERA in his career against the Rangers before the outing, threw a heavy dose of off-speed pitches for 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, but a two-run, eighth-inning rally off reliever Joe Jimenez brought the potential tying run to the plate. With Alex Wilson on the 10-day DL due to a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, Greene began warming up alongside lefty Blaine Hardy in the Detroit's bullpen, and Gardenhire's road map became clear.
"We were trying to figure out a way to win the ballgame," Gardenhire said. "When we saw how it lined up, when [Jimenez] had a little bit of an issue, we figured that we were probably going to have to use Hardy to get a lefty out, and Greeney was probably going to have a four-out save."
Hardy, a potential starting option in place of the injured Jordan Zimmermann next week, fanned Joey Gallo before Gardenhire turned to Greene, who had four such saves last year. Candelario deftly fielded Jurickson Profar's grounder to end the eighth, then Greene struck out the side in order after a leadoff single in the ninth.
"We're competing," Gardenhire said. "We just want these guys to keep competing. We're in so many games. We just have to figure out a way to get through it. That's the only way you can do it is go out and keep working."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fiers fixes fielding foul-up: The Tigers, haunted by defensive miscues the previous two games, were seemingly set for another when Gallo's popup in foul territory fell in between Fiers and catcher James McCann while the two looked at each other, expecting the other to catch it. Fiers was clearly frustrated at himself for the miscommunication, extending Gallo's at-bat with runners at the corners and two outs in the fourth. However, Fiers channeled his frustration into a 2-2 breaking ball that sent Gallo down swinging to end the threat.
"I should've made that play," Fiers said of the popup. "I was relying on McCann, telling him it was right above him. I thought it was going to hit him in the head. But he didn't see it. I have to make that play."
HE SAID IT
"I'm proud of a guy that has that much hair." -- Gardenhire, on reliever Zac Reininger, called up from Triple-A Toledo to fill Wilson's spot in the bullpen
The Tigers and 39-year-old slugger Martinez have a matchup with 44-year-old wonder Bartolo Colon (1-1, 3.29) when the series wraps up Wednesday afternoon with a 2:05 p.m. ET start time at Globe Life Park. Veteran lefty Francisco Liriano (3-1, 2.97) takes the mound for Detroit.