DETROIT (AP) — John Hicks had a walk-off bunt last season. He said this one felt way better.
His game-ending grand slam in the 12th inning gave the the Detroit Tigers an 8-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night, a blast that was set up by Victor Reyes, who hit a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth.
The defeat gave Baltimore its second straight 100-loss season after the Orioles finished 47-115 a year ago.
But for Detroit, it was a rare respite from a horrendous season at home, improving to 20-53 at Comerica Park.
Hicks’ one-out blast to the bullpen in left field came off Ryan Eades (0-1) on a 2-2 count, and was his 12th of the season.
“It was pretty loud in there, and it was cool that everyone stuck around,” Hicks said. “We know things haven’t gone our way a lot, but we’re showing up every day and guys are getting opportunities.”
It was Hicks’ first career grand slam and first walk-off home run.
Harold Castro earned a lead-off walk in the 12th, and Travis Demeritte doubled to put two runners in scoring position. After Dawel Lugo was intentionally walked, Eades walked Brandon Dixon on four pitches to tie the game, setting up Hicks’ slam.
“I threw six balls in a row. I was trying to pound the zone and fell behind with six straight balls,” Eades said. “I just kind of left the slider over the plate and he took advantage of it. That was it.”
Reyes hit his towering home run to right field off Baltimore closer Mychal Givens, who had worked nine straight scoreless appearances.
One inning earlier, Baltimore’s Trey Mancini took rookie reliever Bryan Garcia deep for a two-out, three-run shot to put the Orioles up 3-2. It was Mancini’s second home run in as many nights and 32nd of the season.
Detroit improved to 44-103, its most losses since setting a team mark at 43-119 in 2003, and is 3 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the league’s worst record and the draft’s first pick.
The Orioles had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the 12th inning as Rio Ruiz singled to score Mason Williams off Daniel Stumpf.
“Against a real good lefty in Stumpf, to be able to hang in there on a slider and get a big base hit for us,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “it’s just too bad we didn’t hold on for it.”
Reyes had an RBI single and played nifty defense in center field, making a sliding catch and also throwing out Nunez, who was trying to stretch a leadoff single to second base in the seventh inning.
“He feels like he belongs in the big leagues and he’s playing like it, wherever you put him in the outfield,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s all over the place and he’s putting some nice swings out.”
Castro homered to right field in the third inning to open the scoring for Detroit. John Schreiber (2-0) earned the win in relief, finishing the 12th.
Baltimore’s Gabriel Ynoa started and is winless in his 11 starts this season. He surrendered seven hits and two runs in four-plus innings.
RUN IT BACK?
Gardenhire said before the game that general manager Al Avila has told him he is welcome back next season.
However, the veteran manager said he wants to see how things play out for his coaches before proceeding with his future, whether that means contract extension talks or working the final year of his three-year contract.
“I defend those guys, no matter what happens here,” Gardenhire said. “That would be a hard thing to take, if anything happens to my coaches.”
Gardenhire, in his 15th year as a manager, has 1,176 wins and 1,240 losses in his regular season career, and is 6-21 in the postseason.
BATTLE OF THE BAD
This series is the fourth time teams 50 or more games under .500 met, according to STATS, the first since Montreal played at San Diego on Aug. 29, 1969.
The walk-off grand slam was the first for the Tigers since Rajai Davis did it on June 30, 2014, against Oakland.
Orioles: In eight games since being added to the expanded September rosters, Mark Trumbo is hitting .263 with five hits in 19 at-bats. Trumbo missed over a year of game action with right knee surgery. He did not play on Saturday.
Tigers: Designated hitter Miguel Cabrera left the game in the seventh inning with right knee soreness. Gardenhire said Cabrera was likely slated for a day off Sunday anyways and would be day to day after that.
Orioles: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (2-8, 5.51 ERA) is winless in eight starts, dating back to July 26.
Tigers: RHP Edwin Jackson (3-9, 9.76) has had success against Baltimore in his 17 seasons, going 7-1 with a 3.11 ERA against the Orioles.
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