Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase jogged around the bases in the fifth inning. He pointed to the sky before touching second base, and, on his way to third base, he finally got to use the bow-and-arrow celebration.
It had been a long time.
Haase hadn’t homered since Opening Day.
“I knew I hit it well, but I was surprised it only went out by a couple of inches,” Haase said. “Baseballs just haven’t been flying like they were in previous years.”
His second home run of the season helped the Tigers to a 3-0 victory Saturday in the second of three games against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park, though the bullpen shined brightest after starting pitcher Michael Pineda exited in the second inning.
“Incredible effort by the bullpen,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We need a lot of guys to be good to get through a game after you lose your starter like that. Each guy got in line. … In a close game, there’s no room for error. It was a really gutsy performance by the ‘pen. ”
SHAWN WINDSOR:Don’t let the Tigers’ horrid start ruin your growing hope for the Lions
PINEDA HURT:Tigers pitcher leaves game with right hand contusion
DOWN ON THE FARM:Tigers send Casey Mize (elbow) back to Lakeland: ‘We’re going to slow him down’
Detroit improved to 11-23 with consecutive wins.
In the second inning, Willi Castro scored Jonathan Schoop with a sacrifice fly to put the Tigers ahead 1-0. Schoop led off with a double, then advanced to third on a fielding error by Orioles left fielder Ryan McKenna.
Castro collected his first hit of the game in the seventh, drilling a solo home run to left field on a first-pitch slider to chase Baltimore left-hander Bruce Zimmermann after 80 pitches.
The homer made it 3-0, Tigers.
“Our guys are good hitters,” Hinch said. “We haven’t done well in the first month, but these guys have a track record and guys can hit. It probably helps that it’s 80 degrees and not 30 degrees.”
Miguel Cabrera and Eric Haase notched two-hit performances, as the Tigers’ offense posted three runs on seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Schoop, Castro and Javier Báez each produced one hit.
Cabrera finished 2-for-3 with one walk.
He has 3,018 career hits.
“When Miggy’s healthy, he’s going to hit,” Haase said. “He’s done it his entire career. Even if the power isn’t there – we obviously saw the homer yesterday – he’ll roll out two or three hits every day. It’s vintage Miggy. … It’s big for us.”
‘Big Mike’ banged up
The Tigers weren’t expecting a bullpen game.
But Hinch didn’t have a choice after the first out in the second inning. Pineda departed with a right hand contusion. Further tests revealed he has a fractured middle finger.
The ball, hit by Ramon Urias with a 105.9 mph exit velocity, deflected off Pineda’s middle finger. The right-hander walked off the mound and into the clubhouse after a conversation with Hinch and athletic trainer Doug Teter.
“When we went out there, we thought it was his hand,” Hinch said. “And then you could immediately see his finger swell up, so we took him out. He couldn’t bend it, and the swelling was immediate.”
Pineda threw 14 of 20 pitches for strikes, retiring all four batters he faced. The 33-year-old has a 3.22 ERA with four walks and 12 strikeouts across 22⅓ innings in five starts this season.
In Saturday’s outing, Pineda used 14 fastballs, three sliders and three changeups. He logged two swings and misses and three called strikes, all with his 91 mph fastball.
“He was doing a couple tests out there,” Haase said, “and just immediately, it was giving him pain.”
The Tigers made three strong defensive plays in the first inning to help Pineda take care of Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander. Those plays, in order, were made by Schoop, right fielder Robbie Grossman and third baseman Jeimer Candelario.
Peralta picks it up
The unexpected departure led Hinch to his bullpen.
He called right-handed reliever Wily Peralta into action.
“It’s great going to Wily in that situation,” Haase said.
Peralta recorded the final two outs in the second and completed 2⅔ scoreless innings. He has a 0.59 ERA with 11 walks and 15 strikeouts over 15⅓ innings in nine games.
“That was a situation you don’t expect, especially early in the game,” Peralta said. “I didn’t have time to game plan. I just went out there and tried to execute the pitches I threw. I was able to do that today. I got a couple groundballs and double plays.”
He worked around two walks and a second-inning throwing error by Báez, who pulled first baseman Spencer Torkelson off first base. Peralta responded to the mess by striking out McKenna with a slider to end the inning.
Peralta walked the leadoff hitter in the third and fourth innings. Both runners were wiped out by double plays. He completed the fourth to conclude his outing at 37 pitches, 23 for strikes.
The Tigers turned four double plays in Saturday’s win.
“Every way you can get outs is important,” Hinch said. “If you have traffic, they’re sure to help you out.”
After Peralta, righty Jason Foley took the mound.
He fired two scoreless innings and threw 20 of 26 pitches for strikes. Foley, in his second MLB season, recorded his first strikeout this year with an elevated 96.2 mph four-seam fastball against Rougned Odor.
“He looked as sharp as I’ve ever caught him,” Haase said. “That was huge for us. It’s another big weapon in the back end of our bullpen.”
Righty Joe Jimenez pitched a scoreless seventh, and left-hander Andrew Chafin locked down the eighth.
Chafin navigated Candelario’s inning-opening fielding error at third base. He punched out Anthony Bemboom with a fastball and Chris Owings with a slider before Mullins grounded into a force out.
Lefty Gregory Soto, the Tigers’ closer who struggled on Friday night, delivered a scoreless ninth for his fifth save in 2022.
“I think he needed more opportunity,” Hinch said. “He probably wanted to prove a little something. … He was full of strikes today, so that’s a good sign. I don’t think anybody doubted that. But it’s nice to see after the way last night went down, for him to come back a few hours later and get the job done. “
Contact Evan Petzold at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.