Go Greene! Riley homers twice in front of parents, grandparents

April 24th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- For Tigers designated hitter , it was a timely swing at an appropriate locale. Some two hours away from his hometown of Oviedo, before a family-and-friends rooting section of 15 (including his parents and grandparents), Greene had the first multihomer game of his Major League career.

And his second homer, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, was the decisive blow in Tuesday night’s come-from-behind 4-2 victory against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

“Super, super special,’’ Greene said.

It was the latest moment in what has become a special April for the Tigers, who have won their first five road series of a season for the first time since 2007 while clinching their first winning series at the Trop since 2016.

Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, Detroit got a leadoff single from No. 9 Carson Kelly to set up Greene’s go-ahead two-run homer against Rays reliever Colin Poche. Greene, who opened the scoring with a solo homer in the third, had barely caught his breath in the dugout when Mark Canha tacked on an insurance homer.

It was a quick turnaround for the Tigers -- and especially for reliever Alex Faedo, who surrendered a two-run sixth-inning homer to ex-Tiger Isaac Paredes. But Faedo (1-1) held the Rays in check during the seventh and was the beneficiary of an improbable victory when Greene delivered his second homer to change the game’s tenor.

“Our guys hung in there,’’ Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “But good things can happen late, especially when Riley Greene is involved. When Riley gets a good pitch to hit, he can do extensive damage.’’

Lost in the comeback was the performance by Tigers starter Kenta Maeda, who entered with a 7.64 ERA. Maeda allowed just three hits across five shutout innings and left with a 1-0 lead. But Hinch was most impressed with Maeda’s early composure.

In the first, Javier Báez booted Yandy Diaz’s routine grounder to short. Maeda then appeared to get Richie Palacios on a flyout, but catcher’s interference was called to put the batter on base. Maeda was suddenly in a jam.

“He had done nothing wrong but get two outs,’’ Hinch said. “So then he’s looking at first and second with nobody out. How the game started, it could’ve gotten away from him. But there was no panic, no stress. He continued to make pitches and trusted that the defense was going to make plays.’’

After Faedo surrendered the lead, he pitched a scoreless seventh, then Alex Lange and Jason Foley followed with scoreless innings of their own. Foley earned his seventh save and converted his 12th consecutive save situation dating back to last season.

“It’s a special team,’’ Greene said. “We’ve got a lot of guys in here who work super, super hard. We’ve got the team chemistry. We’ve got the pitchers on the mound who are dealing for us, and we’ve got our bullpen that has really helped us out. We’ve got a lot of great elements on this team.’’

Including the timely power hitting that Greene displayed.

“They’ve got some good [pitching] stuff over there, and they’re going to use it,’’ Greene said. “I just tried to stick to my approach and stay aggressive. A.J. has been preaching to me over and over again, ‘Get a good pitch to hit.’ That was my main focus, getting a good pitch to hit.’’

Greene got that pitch to hit. The timing and setting were perfect. So was the result.

“Just a great, great night,’’ he said.