The Red Sox bounced back from a tough series-opening loss at Comerica Park on Monday by pulling off a come-from-behind victory over the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon.
Boston rallied back from a three-run deficit to defeat Detroit, 5-3, and improve to 2-3 on the young season.
Rich Hill, making his first start of the year for the Sox and first since 2015, allowed three runs (all earned) on five hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work.
The veteran left-hander began his day by retiring the first seven batters he faced before things began to unravel a bit in the bottom half of the third. With one out in the frame, Hill gave up a flyball double to Spencer Torkelson that very easily could have been caught by Christian Arroyo in right field.
Torkelson, regarded by many as one of the top prospects in baseball, advanced to third base on a Dustin Garneau single and scored his side’s first run on an RBI groundout from Robbie Grossman.
Arroyo, making just his second career start in right field, was challenged once more when Jonathan Schoop lifted a softly-hit flyball that had an expected batting average of .070.
Rather than catch Schoop’s blooper, Arroyo took an awkward route and the ball landed a few feet in front of him, allowing Garneau to easily score from second to make it a 2-0 game.
Javier Baez, the hero of Monday’s game, proceeded to tack on an additional run on a blistering, 110.8 mph double to left field that plated Schoop all the way from first to give the Tigers an early 3-0 lead.
After eventually getting through the third, Hill rebounded by stranding Akil Baddoo at third base in a scoreless fourth inning. He then recorded the first out of the fifth before issuing a six-pitch walk to Grossman, which is how his outing would come to an end.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (54 strikes), the 42-year-old southpaw relied primarily upon his four-seam fastball and curveball on Tuesday. He averaged 88.2 mph with his heater and induced a total of five swings-and-misses.
In relief of Hill, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he was tasked with facing Schoop. The righty got Schoop to fly out to Rafael Devers in foul territory. Devers then caught the Tigers sleeping, as he made the throw over to Bobby Dalbec to nab Grossman at first base and complete the inning-ending, 5-3 double play.
To that point in the contest, the Sox lineup had mustered just two hits off Tigers starter Tyler Alexander. Things started to change for the better in the sixth, though, as Kevin Plawecki led the inning off with a groundball single.
A sacrifice bunt from Jonathan Arauz moved Plawecki up to second base, and Enrique Hernandez drove the backup catcher in from second on his first hit of the season: a one-out RBI double down the right field line to cut Boston’s deficit down to two runs at 3-1.
Rafael Devers followed suit by lacing a 99 mph single to right field that scored Hernandez from second to pull the Sox back to within one run of the Tigers.
Following a Detroit pitching change that saw Jacob Barnes take over for Alexander, J.D. Martinez stayed hot against his former team by ripping a game-tying double to the right field corner. The Tigers thought Martinez’s clutch hit may have landed in foul territory and challenged the call on the field.
Martinez’s RBI two-base hit was upheld, though, and the Red Sox and Tigers now found themselves deadlocked in a 3-3 stalemate.
After Garrett Whitlock came on for Sawamura and worked his way around a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth and retired the side in order in the seventh, the Boston bats struck once again in their half of the eighth.
Matched up against Tigers reliever Alex Lange, Hernandez drew a leadoff walk and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Devers then in Hernandez on a go-ahead single to center field. Arroyo tacked on an insurance run on an RBI single off Will Vest.
Now in possession of a 5-3 lead, Whitlock continued to dominate out of the ‘pen and shut down the Tigers to preserve the win. In his first outing since inking a four-year extension with the Sox on Sunday, the right-hander fanned two and issued just one walk over four scoreless, no-hit innings to earn his first winning decision of the year.
Some notes from this win:
Through five games this season, Rafael Devers is batting .381 (8-for-21) with two doubles, one home run, four RBIs, four runs scored, one walk, and five strikeouts.
After going 0-for-19 to start the season, Enrique Hernandez went 2-for-4 with two doubles, one RBI, two runs scored, one walk, and one strikeout out of the leadoff spot on Tuesday.
Next up: Eovaldi vs. Rodriguez
The Red Sox will go for the series win over the Tigers in the rubber match of this three-game set on Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Boston and he will be opposed by an old friend in left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez for Detroit.
First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)