While the Tigers’ highly touted pitching prospects received most of the attention this week, Paredes’ first Major League home run made enough of an impact to end their 20-game losing streak to the Indians. His grand slam punctuated a seven-run fourth inning as Detroit roared back from a five-run deficit in Cleveland for a 10-5 win.
The win was the Tigers’ first over the Indians since April 10, 2019, ending the longest winning streak by one team over another since the Orioles’ 23-game winning streak over the expansion Royals from 1969-70. It also ended Detroit’s nine-game losing streak this season.
“This season's far from over, and we're excited to continue on,” said Fulmer, whose early-inning struggles were nullified by a seven-run fourth inning. “Just glad to get this monkey off our back. Now we relax a little bit more and go have fun winning some ballgames.”
Paredes, Detroit’s No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, became the first Tiger in a decade to hit a grand slam for his first big league home run. Brennan Boesch was the last, clearing the bases off Angels right-hander Joel Pineiro at Comerica Park on April 30, 2010. The only other Tiger to do it since 1992 was Cody Ross, who took Cleveland’s Cliff Lee deep on Sept. 2, 2003, for his first and only home run in what ended up being his final game in a Detroit uniform.
If Paredes’ homer could ignite the kind of tear that Boesch enjoyed in Summer 2010, the Tigers would gladly welcome it. They called up Paredes on Monday to provide some offense in the wake of C.J. Cron’s season-ending left knee injury.
“This guy can hit; we said that from the get-go,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He can swing it. He plays a lot of baseball down in [Mexico] and plays with a lot of fellas that have some pretty good experience. So he doesn’t have any fear here. We knew that in Spring Training even last year. He comes and he gets after it pretty good.
“We like this guy. The organization has said this is one of our guys of the future. And you know what? He’s here now, and we’re going to benefit from it. He can do some things. He’s a tough kid.”
Paredes hasn’t been known for home run power despite putting up double-digit home runs in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2018. He hit 13 homers last year at Double-A Erie in what ended up being a pitcher-friendly Eastern League, but he was better known for his plate discipline, declining to chase pitches with a strike-zone knowledge well beyond his age and arguably among the best of anybody currently in the Tigers' lineup.
That discipline helped the 21-year-old Paredes on Friday after taking five pitches in his first at-bat in the third inning for a called third strike. In the fourth, he declined to chase Adam Plutko’s first-pitch slider off the plate, took a slider at the top of the zone for Strike 1, then fouled off back-to-back pitches, including a high fastball.
“When I'm in that situation, I try to focus on not striking out,” Paredes said through translator Carlos Guillen. “My two-strike approach, it changes, so I do not raise my left foot. If I was waiting for a breaking ball, then I knew I had to react to a fastball if he threw it to me. And that's what happened. I knew that I was going to react, and I know that hitting towards left field is one of my good sides. Fortunately, I had a reaction to that.”
Plutko went back to the fastball with a 1-2 count, but he left it over the plate. Paredes hit a line drive with a 99.2 mph exit velocity that maintained altitude just over the high left-field wall at Progressive Field to power Detroit in front. It was his second career base hit of any kind.
“It's my first home run in Major League Baseball, but the thing that was more important to me is that we won,” Paredes said.
Victor Reyes’ leadoff homer in the seventh inning and Jeimer Candelario’s ensuing two-run single padded Detroit’s lead. Jonathan Schoop had four hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth. The Tigers scored 10 unanswered runs after Franmil Reyes’ third-inning homer off Fulmer powered Cleveland to a 5-0 lead and had Detroit seemingly set for more frustration at Progressive Field.
“The message of the meeting was to just keep playing hard,” Fulmer said. “Obviously, we had lost nine in a row, but just keep playing the game the right way. Keep playing hard, don't feel down on yourselves, and have somebody's back. Go out there and make a good play. If one guy doesn't get it done at the plate, the next guy knows he's going to step up and do it. You've just gotta believe it. I think it kind of kick-started us tonight, especially being down 5-0. Those guys coming back in the fourth inning was just unreal.”
Rony García tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his first Major League win, starting a stretch of six scoreless innings from Detroit’s bullpen.