CHICAGO -- The Tigers' plastic Rally Goose does not have a perch on the dugout railing at Guaranteed Rate Field, so it's not as prominent on the road as it is at home. The rallies behind it, however, are becoming pervasive.The Tigers have a four-game winning streak, the latest a
CHICAGO -- The Tigers' plastic Rally Goose does not have a perch on the dugout railing at Guaranteed Rate Field, so it's not as prominent on the road as it is at home. The rallies behind it, however, are becoming pervasive.
The Tigers have a four-game winning streak, the latest a 7-5 win over the White Sox on Saturday, yet have been tied or trailing going into the seventh inning each time. They haven't carried a lead from the early innings throughout since roughing up Red Sox rookie Jalen Beeks on June 7 in Boston, yet they've won six of nine in the stretch to pull within two games of .500.
They have nine wins when tied or trailing after seven innings. They have four consecutive wins since Jose Cabrera's season-ending injury.
"It's all part of the plan, man," said Nicholas Castellanos, whose two home runs built an early lead Saturday that suddenly vanished before the Tigers pulled off one of their quirkier comebacks of the stretch. "It's kind of stupid if you are on the outside looking in. But when you are on the inside and you know what you want to accomplish, and you've got a bunch of guys buying into the same thing like we have, it's really remarkable what you can accomplish."
The Tigers picked up five RBIs from the previously slumping Castellanos, and four perfect innings from the previously injured Jordan Zimmermann, but ultimately won with an eighth-inning rally that included one ball hit out of the infield, one popup bunt single, a Jose Iglesias go-ahead infield single and two walks issued from former Tiger Bruce Rondon.
"When you've been doing it all year, it gives you a little confidence," said JaCoby Jones, whose bunt attempt sent Rondon diving head-first toward home plate in an attempt to catch it. "When we get in later innings in close games, we don't tighten up. We're still loose. I think that's what helps us out. We stay loose and we know we can do it."
Had Rondon caught Jones' popup, he could've squelched the rally, maybe found a double play at first or second. Instead, Jones' single loaded the bases with nobody out. Rondon struck out rookie Grayson Greiner and tried to overpower Iglesias, but the resulting bouncer up the middle with infielders playing in left nowhere for an out as second baseman Yoan Moncada tried to field it on the left side of the infield. Niko Goodrum stepped off the bench for Ronny Rodriguez and drew a four-pitch walk from Rondon to force in an insurance run.
It wasn't glamorous, but it worked.
"One thing I give credit to everybody in this room for is, everybody checks their egos at the door and they do what they can to help the team win," Castellanos said. "It's not about anybody's individual performances in here."
Truthfully, the first half of the game was about Castellanos' performance, having built the Tigers' early lead. Castellanos entered Saturday in a 9-for-57 slump over his previous 13 games, but connected for two home runs off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito (4-8) -- a three-run shot to complete a two-run rally in the third inning, then a two-run homer with two outs in the fifth. His first home runs since June 1 marked his first multi-homer game since last August. His five RBIs matched his total for June heading into Saturday.
Zimmermann, making his first start in six weeks following a right shoulder impingement, retired his first 12 batters with barely any solid contact through four innings. Just as surprising as his perfect stretch was, his turn in the fifth inning was stunningly quick, with four hits and three runs in a five-pitch span, including a Charlie Tilson two-run single.
"We've got a lead 5-0, and then Zim got in trouble," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Gotta recognize a little quicker that they're swinging at the first pitch. We didn't make an adjustment there. You've gotta stop it. They're jumping him early and he ends up giving up four runs, then they tie the ballgame up, and here it is a dogfight."
The Tigers keep pulling out the dogfights.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Greene works ninth: Though Gardenhire was prepared to go into Saturday with closer Shane Greene on rest after pitching three consecutive days, Greene told Gardenhire before the game that he felt fine. Gardenhire took him at his word, using Joe Jimenez for a perfect eighth inning once the Tigers took the lead. Greene retired the bottom of the White Sox lineup in order in the ninth, capped by back-to-back strikeouts, for his fourth save in as many days.
"I long-toss every day, and I throw on flat ground every single day, so the days when I don't pitch are like off-days," Greene said. "I take a lot of pride in getting ready to compete on a daily basis."
Greene became the first Tigers closer to record a save on four consecutive days since Todd Jones did it from June 30-July 3 in 2000. No closer in the Majors had recorded saves on four straight days since Milwaukee's Jeremy Jeffress on July 28-31, 2016.
HE SAID IT
"Sure, it's always fun. Touch 'em all, high-five your friends. I'm just kind of getting back into the rhythm of things and staying connected on my swing." -- Castellanos, on his two-homer game
Blaine Hardy (2-1, 3.55 ERA) makes what could be his last turn in the Tigers' rotation for a while when he takes the mound for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox, a 2:10 p.m. ET start. Hardy has allowed two runs or less in four of five starts since replacing injured Francisco Liriano, who makes a Minor League rehab start Sunday night in preparation for a potential return next week. James Shields (2-7, 4.63) will start for the White Sox.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.