DETROIT — Jonathan Schoop and Christin Stewart hit two-run homers in the bottom of the third inning to overcome Whit Merrifield’s three-run homer in the top of the frame, as the Tigers took a 4-3 win over the Royals on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
The victory moves the Tigers back over .500 at 3-2. More importantly, it turned a potentially perilous bullpen day into a much-needed win.
The Tigers entered the day with Rule 5 Draft pick Rony Garcia getting a spot start for his Major League debut and his first outing above the Double-A level, along with a bullpen taxed from heavy duty in the Royals’ six-homer effort Monday night. Aside from Merrifield’s loft off the top of the bullpen dugout, Detroit held Kansas City’s hitters in check Tuesday.
Much like the Tigers’ two wins in Cincinnati last weekend, the game turned on long balls from a team that finished last in the American League in home runs last season. Schoop connected with a Tyler Zuber offspeed pitch and sent it to the shrubs in straightaway center field, a 442-foot drive according to Statcast. Three batters later, Stewart followed C.J. Cron’s two-out walk with an opposite-field drive to left-center to move the Tigers in front.
That was all the scoring Detroit needed. Tyler Alexander, Jose Cisnero, Gregory Soto and Joe Jimenez combined for six scoreless innings out of the ‘pen on two hits with six strikeouts, two of them from the hard-throwing left-hander Soto.