Vierling vaults Tigers to first win with standout night

April 4th, 2023

HOUSTON -- knows what it's like to play on the game’s biggest stage. He did it last year as a member of the Phillies in the World Series.

But in 2023, Vierling -- who was acquired in the offseason by the Tigers in a Jan. 7 trade -- was still seeking his signature moment as a member of his new team.

In the 11th inning against the defending World Series champion Astros, Vierling capped his best game as a Tiger with a two-run, 426-foot home run blast to dead-center field to launch Detroit to a 7-6 victory on Monday night.

“I think it was great for me personally, feeling good at the plate and everything like that,” Vierling said. “More importantly for the team, that’s a good team over there, obviously. They have a good lineup, staff and good bullpen, and we were able to compete to the very end and beat them. I think that’s a huge win for us and it’s huge to get the first one out of the way.”

The victory helped the Tigers avoid their first 0-4 start since losing their first seven games of the 2008 season.

Vierling went 4-for-5 in the game, with two RBIs and the home run. He was hitless over seven at-bats during Detroit’s season-opening series against the Rays. The Tigers right fielder also had a run-saving, inning-ending diving play in the fifth to stop an Astros rally and keep the game tied.

“You can help win the game in a lot of innings in baseball,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “I love the route he took on the ball, the guts to dive after it and not play it safe. I obviously like his at-bats, he had a great night tonight. One of the many reasons we like him.”

The Tigers posted seven runs on nine hits, looking like a vastly different team than the one that was outscored 21-3 by Tampa Bay over the weekend. 

Along with Vierling’s extra-inning blast,  found his big swing in the seventh inning with a 414-foot solo home run to left field to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead. It was his first homer of the season after going 2-for-11 against the Rays.

“It brings the morale way up here,” Greene said while raising his hand above his head. “We really struggled the first three games. It’s going to happen, but it’s good to come out on the road and swing it a little bit. We’re going to try and bring it into tomorrow.”

The offense came from various spots of the lineup for the Tigers, including No. 9 hitter , who started the season 0-for-8 at the plate and had a two-run single to get things started in the second.

The early offense supported , who made his first start on a Major League mound in 577 days. Boyd threw up zeroes in his first four innings of work, all while allowing just one hit. The two-time Opening Day starter for the Tigers allowed two runs on two hits, striking out three and walking three in 4 1/3 innings in his season debut.

“It felt really good, it’s something I really enjoy doing,” Boyd said. “I love being able to navigate a lineup multiple times through using all four of my pitches, attacking guys differently each time. As a starter, there’s so many different intricacies of it that I really enjoy. It was awesome to get back out there and do that.”

In the end, with a 7-5 lead in hand, the call for the save went to , who, in his entire baseball career -- high school, college and professional -- had never notched a save.

After giving up one run on a fielder’s choice, he forced José Abreu to pop out to end the game and clinch his first career save.

“Heart was pounding, legs were shaking, just adrenaline at another level,” Hill said. “I started playing at 8 years old and that was the first time I’ve been in that situation. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”