Javy Baez delivered a perfect ending to his Detroit Tigers debut. Baez and his new teammates will look for an encore when they face the visiting Chicago White Sox once again on Saturday.
The Tigers signaled to the baseball world this offseason that they’re serious about winning with a number of high-profile acquisitions. Baez, batting in the No. 3 spot, topped that list. He signed a six-year, $140 million contract to fill the Tigers’ need at shortstop.
Baez ripped a game-winning single off the right field wall off White Sox closer Liam Hendriks in the season opener to give Detroit a 5-4 win on Friday afternoon.
“Welcome to Detroit, Javy Baez,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Detroit trailed 3-1 in the eighth before Miguel Cabrera banged a two-run single. The Tigers were down 4-3 in the ninth but Eric Haase tied the game with a solo homer. Austin Meadows, acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay last week, smacked a triple prior to Baez’s game-winner.
“It makes my night,” Hinch said. “It doesn’t change anything for us. I’m super happy. That’s exactly what you want to do in front of the fans.”
Baez had a message for those fans afterward.
“It’s not going to be easy this year but it’s going to be fun,” he said.
Hinch expects the team to have plenty of fun and challenge for a postseason berth.
“When you put this uniform on, there’s a great brand of baseball that we’re playing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who it is, doesn’t matter what inning, doesn’t matter who starts, doesn’t matter who gets the credit. It’s just about winning today’s game.”
The loss could have come at a bigger cost to the White Sox. Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito departed after the fourth inning after experiencing abdominal tightness.
“I’m concerned because he felt something, and he was smart to not go back out there,” manager Tony La Russa said.
A.J. Pollock made a nice debut for the White Sox with three hits, a run scored and an RBI. Pollock was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers late in spring training.
Hendriks shrugged off his poor outing.
“We work toward tomorrow,” he said. “Now we go 161-1.”
Right-hander Casey Mize will start for Detroit on Saturday. Mize posted a 7-9 record and 3.71 ERA in 30 starts last season. Mize was on an innings limit the last month of the season, which made it impossible for him to post another win.
He lost all three of his starts against the White Sox, though two of them were quality outings in which he allowed three earned runs in six or more innings.
Chicago will counter with Dylan Cease, who finished last season with a 13-7 record and 3.91 ERA. He racked up 226 strikeouts in 165 2/3 innings while making 32 starts.
Cease gave the Tigers batters fits last season, as he notched three victories in four starts and posted a 1.17 ERA. In the first two of those outings, he tossed seven scoreless innings each time.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson will serve out the second game of his two-game league-imposed suspension for bumping an umpire last season.
–Field Level Media