Slam fuels Tigers' 8-run 3rd to down Mariners
DETROIT -- Nick Castellanos' first Major League grand slam fueled an eight-run third inning. The Tigers spent the next six innings trying to hold down the Mariners' offense, withstanding a pair of Nelson Cruz home runs for a 9-4 Detroit win Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
The victory moved the Tigers back to .500 at 47-47 as team officials and ownership weigh whether to buy or sell at next week's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Tigers hadn't scored more than six runs in an inning all season, but after missing out on scoring chances in the first two innings, they pounced all over Seattle starter Mike Montgomery (4-4) in the third, helped by three walks and a Kyle Seager throwing error.
"That was tough," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, whose team fell to 43-52. "It all started with a two-strike walk and then [Seager's error on the] bunt and after that everything went to heck."
Anibal Sanchez (10-7) struggled with Cruz, whose two homers raised his career total to 20 against Detroit, but lasted 6 2/3 innings to become Detroit's first 10-game winner this season. Joakim Soria came on in the eighth and notched a four-out save, the 200th of his career.
"From a pitching standpoint, I think we scraped by a little bit," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think we could've been a little cleaner. But we got the job done."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nick has a night: Castellanos had never slugged a grand slam in the Majors, but he made his first a majestic shot. His drive off Montgomery's 2-0 fastball traveled 447 feet to the brick wall beyond the seats in left-center field, according to Statcast™. It marked his fourth home run of July, all off Mariners pitching.
"That's probably the farthest ball I ever hit in my life," Castellanos said. More >
Cruz cookin' again: After a significant midseason power lull when he hit just three homers in a 45-game span, the Mariners' right fielder doubled that total the past two days at Comerica. Cruz launched a two-run blast to left-center in the fourth inning that was estimated at 437 feet by Statcast™ and then added a solo shot to right in the sixth. Having also clubbed a 452-foot blast on Tuesday, Cruz has homered in back-to-back games for the first time since May 1-2 in Houston. The 34-year-old also doubled in a 3-for-5 night and now has a team-leading 24 homers and 57 RBIs, with 19 homers and 35 RBIs coming on the road. More >
"It's much better," Cruz said of his swing. "Like I said yesterday, it was good to hit something the other way. I might have found something."
Cruz controller: After three home runs over his previous seven at-bats, including two Wednesday night, Cruz stepped to the plate with two on and two outs in the seventh inning and the potential tying run on deck. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus turned to long man turned setup reliever Alex Wilson, who had been reserved for potential extra-inning work Tuesday. Wilson battled Cruz through five pitches fouled off before getting a high fastball past him for a critical strikeout to keep the four-run lead intact. More >
"I yanked a fastball I was trying to go in with, and it was away," Wilson said. "He put a good swing on it, and to me, it seemed like he was kind of looking away. So I shook back to another heater and went upstairs with it and got him to swing and miss on it."
Tough inning for the rookie: Montgomery had been a pleasant surprise for the Mariners in his first nine starts filling in for the injured James Paxton, tossing a pair of shutouts and putting up a 4-3 record and 2.51 ERA. But the 26-year-old wasn't as sharp in this one and lasted a career-short 2 2/3 innings as the Tigers knocked him out in the eight-run third. Montgomery wasn't helped by a pair of errors from Seager in that frame, but he also lacked his previous command while walking five and giving up six hits in his short stint, including Castellanos' slam.
"I fell behind 2-0 and had to come in the zone against Castellanos," Montgomery said. "He knew it and he's a good hitter. He's been hitting real well lately and that's what happens. That's why you have to get ahead of guys. More leading up to that, the frustrating part is I got ahead, I felt really good, but I walked the leadoff guy. Those are the little things that really come back to bite you. It just comes down to being in the zone with all your stuff."
"Probably punch something and then forget about it, I guess." -- Seager, a 2014 Gold Glove third baseman, on what to do after committing two errors in Detroit's eight-run inning
"Last night was one that made you want to throw up. To come back and get the big win tonight, and the way we did it, scoring eight in the third, was special. It shows we still believe and there's life in this team." -- Wilson on bouncing back after Tuesday's late-inning loss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Castellanos is batting 11-for-22 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in six games against the Mariners this season. He's batting .229 (68-for-297) with four homers and 30 RBIs against everyone else.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mariners successfully challenged an infield single by Rajai Davis in the fifth when the Tigers' leadoff man initially was ruled to have avoided a tag by Mariners first baseman Mark Trumbo on a throw by shortstop Brad Miller that pulled him off the base. But after a 58-second review, the call was overturned as Trumbo's glove caught Davis on the leg for the third out of the inning.
Mariners: Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1, 4.89) makes his fourth start since returning from an 11-week stint on the disabled list in Thursday's 10:08 a.m. PT series finale at Comerica Park. The 34-year-old gave up four homers in 5 ⅓ innings against the Tigers in a no-decision in his first game back, but is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in his last two outings against the Yankees and Angels.
Tigers: With speculation building about his future, David Price (9-3, 2.32) will make his final start in Detroit before next week's non-waiver Trade Deadline. He'll face a Mariners squad he missed in Seattle a few weeks ago, trying to join Anibal Sanchez as Detroit's dual 10-game winners in a 1:08 p.m. ET start.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.