KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Javier Báez hit a bases-clearing double in the 10th inning for his third hit of the night to lift the Detroit Tigers to an 8-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.
“It's the best feeling in the world,” Báez said in an on-field interview after the game. “I'm just happy that I got good contact.”
Báez had three hits in the game, but the first two combined for an exit velocity of about 112 mph and didn't leave the infield. His third hit was a line drive over the left-fielder's head.
“He probably got the softest hits tonight and he probably got the hardest hit tonight,” Detroit manager AJ Hinch said. “I'll take them both.”
Matt Vierling had three hits, including a home run, and four RBIs for the Tigers.
Alex Lange (2-0) earned the victory with two hitless innings of relief. Jose Cisnero picked up his first save.
“I think (Lange) was excellent tonight,” Hinch said. “We talk to him over and over about the back end of the game. He can't just wait on the last three outs and a clean inning all the time. These were clean innings, but he's going to need to be ready in the eighth. Tonight we needed him to pitch in a different part of the game.”
Scott Barlow (1-3) allowed Báez's winning hit and took the loss.
“(The bullpen) kept us in the game," Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. "They didn’t give up a run until the 10th inning. So, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Neither starter was effective. Detroit's Michael Lorenzen gave up five runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. Brady Singer allowed five runs and seven hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. Singer came into the game with a 6-0 record with a 2.44 ERA in 10 career starts against the Tigers.
Detroit batters walked 10 times, the first time the Tigers had eight or more walks in consecutive games since June 13-14, 2016.
The Tigers got three runs in the first inning without much solid contact. Zach McKinstry led off with a single in the hole at second. With one out, Báez singled over first base and Spencer Torkelson walked. Singer then walked Akil Baddoo on four pitches to send home the first run. Vierling lined a single through the hole at short for two more runs.
The Royals wasted no time in getting back into the game. Vinnie Pasquantino launched a 424-foot, two-run home run and Salvador Perez followed with a 419-foot shot to tie the score before Lorenzen recorded the first out. It was the first time this year the Royals hit back-to-back home runs.
Vierling then put the Tigers back in front with a two-run home run in the third, giving him four RBIs on the night.
“I feel good (and) relaxed,” Vierling said. “Hitting is up and down sometimes. I feel like I'm seeing it well. I really like my approach right now. I'm just trying to stay with that as much as possible.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his first homer as a Royal to tie the game in the fifth. Nicky Lopez tripled leading off the inning before Bradley hit it into the Tigers bullpen in left. Bradley snapped an 0-for-26 skid.
Royals IF Nicky Lopez returned from rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha and was reinstated from IL. He has been out since May 2 with an emergency appendectomy. In a corresponding move, IF/OF Hunter Dozier was designated for assignment. Dozier was hitting .183 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 29 games this season.
The Tigers and Royals will play the second game of a three-game series. The Tigers will send LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 2.06 ERA) to the mound. The Royals have not announced a starter.