Javier Baez took a swing.
On a 2-2 fastball from the Boston Red Sox, Ryan Brazier, the Detroit Tigers’ new shorter fielder deposited the ball into the stands behind the left field wall, and behind the Bulls’ center, in the eighth inning.
“It’s Jaffe Baez,” Tigers veteran Miguel Cabrera said. “he got it.”
Two-time homecoming Baez, who signed a six-year $140 million contract this off season, traveled 396 feet and provided a 3-1 win for the Tigers in Monday’s opener against the Red Sox at Comerica Park.
“I was focused,” Bayes said. “That’s the most important key for me, focus and trying to see the ball as much as I can. … For me, the key is to slow everything down. I can really focus or I can swing balls out of the area. Just focusing and being patient with my plan is the key.”
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The closest left-handed Gregory Soto scored in the ninth game and made his first save of the season.
Baez’s 150th career breakout cut the 1-1 draw.
“He got $140 million for a reason,” said Jimir Candelario, the third baseman for the Tigers. “He’s been doing it all his career: hit the ball hard and see what happens. That’s Jaffe.”
“I think if you saw Javy in the last few years, all of his career, it would be Javy, and we’re going to take that and work with him,” said Tigers manager AJ Hinch. “Big moment, small moment, you’re throwing somewhere near the vicinity, it’s going to swing at it, and when it does damage like that, it’s very electric.”
The Tigers took the lead early on, but Red Sox player J.D. Martinez, a Tiger from 2014-2017, crushed a solo run at home in the fifth inning from Matt Manning.
Martinez’s home run was marked by Manning’s only flaw in his first season. The 24-year-old was shining in the 19th start of his MLB career, carrying the Red Sox in one run across six innings. Produce two slides, without compromising walking.
“Very aggressive in the hit zone and really impressive that he was so effective at the start of the match,” Hinch said. “They came out swinging, he wasn’t afraid of the strike zone. He kept hitting away. He was very in control. Had he been a different part of the season, he would probably be back for season seven (half).”
Light rain was a constant throughout the four-degree rounds, but the weather didn’t force a delay.
Red Sox’s Michael Washa responded to Manning with four rounds of one ball, allowing two-strokes and three-stroke walks. The Tigers held the rules against Wacha in the first half, thanks to Austin Meadows’ single, Báez walk and Candelario walk.
“He walked, too,” Hinch said of Baez, who had a walking rate of 5.1% last season. “I should put that in your notes.”
Miguel Cabrera’s fly put Tiger Sacrifice ahead 1-0.
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In the sixth, Cabrera scored the 2,990th goal of his 20-year MLB career with a weakness on the right field from Red Sox righty loyal Matt Barnes. He also has 598 doubles.
Cabrera raised his career to 2,991 with a single at number eight.
“I don’t want to pressure myself,” Cabrera said. “I just want to go out there and play a good baseball game. That’s it. I’ll do what it takes to win games. That’s my focus right now.”
Best start to Manning’s career
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He threw eight pitches (for eight hits) in the first inning to set the tone, recording his first hit when Raphael Devers descended a four-stitch 96-mph swing.
Manning notched his second and final goal in the fourth inning, hitting Xander Bogarts with a high-speed ball at 96.3 mph. The sophomore right-winger, who had 5.80 ERAs in his 18 start last season, finished his start with seven pitches (for seven strokes) in the sixth inning.
“Challenge only in the strike zone,” said Tucker Barnhart, a tiger hunter. “We talked a lot about it, about him being aggressive on the plate and trusting his stuff…Tonight, he was obviously trying to get out there and just hit guys. It was cool. He was so locked up.”
Manning threw 13 first-court hits to the 19 hits he’s faced, only trailing twice in the 2-0 count: Jackie Bradley Jr (knockout) in the third and Alex Verdugo (hitter) in the fifth.
Verdugo came in fifth, and brought Martinez’s solo track at home to a 3-0 lead by Manning. But the Tigers’ layup responded with three consecutive fast balls into the strike zone, the last of which resulted in a hard hit.
“I think it’s been good,” Manning said of Martinez’s home run. “(My fastball) got inside where I wanted, he just, he was able to turn around and burn. He’s a good hitter, and he’s got the best of it. …I do a better job of getting locked back in right away.”
For his 68 playbacks (47 hits), Manning used 41 four-pound fastballs (60%), 10 slips (15%), eight curveballs (12%), six dips (9%) and three changes (4%). . He’s got six flips and strokes – five with his four stitches – and 12 called-ups, including three with the slider and two with the curve ball.
His speedball averaged 93.7 mph and maxed out at 97.3 mph.
“They were rocking from the start,” Manning said. “I got ahead of them, and I wanted them to swing. Games like that, you wouldn’t really get into your secondary stuff. If they were going to keep swinging, I would keep feeding (fast balls) there.”
Right-handed Alex Lange took charge of Manning to start the seventh inning and didn’t miss a win.
Lange, who threw 10 of 14 strike throws, worked around one Devers hit by hitting Bogaerts (swinging, 87.6 mph slide) and Martinez (looking, 87.1 mph slide). Verdugo flew into the right deep field for the third exit.
“He has a lot of ‘FU’ mentality on his stuff,” Barnhart said. “I love that about him. All shooters need some of that in their own way. I think that’s what makes it so good besides things. He has the ability to throw all his playing fields into the attacking area whenever he wants. “
Righty Michael Fulmer scored a goalless eighth, firing 10 of his 16 shot puts. Vasquez hit a single, but Vollmer answered with three straight runs, including Travis Shaw’s swing hit with a mid-’80s change.
Soto made a ninth place finish, allowing for a double for Devers.
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