Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
Published 9:39 p.m. ET July 28, 2020 | Updated 10:00 p.m. ET July 28, 2020
Detroit Tigers infielder Jordy Mercer speaks July 27, 2020, about the coronavirus concerns amid the outbreak within the Miami Marlins organization.
Detroit Free Press
When the Kansas City Royals let reliever Tyler Zuber touch the mound, the Detroit Tigers greeted him with extreme force.
Meaning a 442-foot home run by Jonathan Schoop to the shrubs in straightaway center field. Then a 404-foot blast from Christin Stewart to left field. Both were two-run homers and gave Detroit a one-run lead in the third inning.
The Tigers (3-2) used those moonshots to swipe a 4-3 victory Tuesday against the Royals at Comerica Park, even despite pitching a limited starter once again — which led to the horrendous 14-6 showing Monday.
Schoop’s blast gave the Tigers at least one home run in its first five games for the seventh time since 1901.
The series continues Wednesday with left-hander Matthew Boyd (0-1, 7.20 ERA), followed by right-hander Ivan Nova (0-0, 5.40 ERA) facing off against top Royals prospect Brady Singer on Thursday.
Rule 5 draft pick Rony Garcia got tossed into a high-intensity situation for his MLB debut as a replacement for right-hander Dario Agrazal, who went on the 10-day injured list Monday with a right forearm strain.
Without much time to prepare for his first-ever appearance, the 22-year-old cruised. He only needed 21 pitches (13 strikes) to get through the second inning, ending with Maikel Franco’s strikeout looking.
He made a throwing error to first base in the third, which flustered him and led to a three-run homer from Whit Merrifield. Yet Garcia returned to his earlier form by striking out Jorge Soler with a 93 mph fastball and Adalberto Mondesi with a slider.
Set to take the loss, he got some help when Schoop and Stewart plucked a change-up and fastball, respectively, for home runs in the third.
Whit Merrifield: Tiger King?
Entering the series, Merrifield was 3-for-11 with just one extra-base hit in the first three games of the season.
But then the second baseman ran into the Tigers.
On Monday, Merrifield went 3-for-5 with one double, one home run and three RBIs. He was back at it Tuesday, with his homer giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.
In his five-year career, he is 51-for-146 (.349) with 12 doubles, four triples, eight long shots and 21 RBIs at Comerica Park.
Alexander’s perfect piggyback
There’s been plenty of talk about left-hander Tyler Alexander working in a piggyback role this season. But until Tuesday night, nobody’s seen him do it.
Sure, he did so in an exhibition with Michael Fulmer last week and a few times last season, but his lone appearance this year came after Ivan Nova tossed five innings Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Entering in the fourth inning, Alexander did his job perfectly. He used the change-up and slider to strike out his first two batters — Salvador Perez and Ryan O’Hearn — swinging.
He only needed 22 pitches (16 strikes) to move through two frames. He gave up two hits, but the Royals never threatened to score.
If the Tigers can find more of the Garcia-Alexander success with the No. 5 starter in the rotation, it might work after all.
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