Kinsler's 4th RBI saves Tigers in 11 after Fish rally
Ian Kinsler provided plenty of power and production from the leadoff spot, driving in four runs, with his RBI single in the 11th inning proving the difference in the Tigers' 8-7 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.
Held hitless by Justin Verlander for 5 1/3 innings, the Marlins rallied from five runs down in the sixth and three runs back in the ninth inning to pull even at 7 and force extra innings. Craig Breslow walked Anthony Gose to lead off the top of the 11th, and Kinsler made Miami pay for the free pass with his single to left.
"You have to start grinding again," Kinsler said. "It's a 0-0 game, and the next team to score is probably going to win. You have to flip the switch quick."
Dee Gordon broke up Verlander's no-hit bid with a double in the sixth, and he delivered an RBI double with two outs in the ninth off Francisco Rodriguez to tie it at 7. Miami scored three times off the Detroit closer. Derek Dietrich collected a pinch-hit RBI double, also with two outs, pulling Miami within a run.
Detroit erupted early for five runs off Miami starter Wei-Yin Chen. Kinsler belted a three-run homer in the second inning, making it 4-0. In the ninth inning off Bryan Morris, Gose and pinch-hitter Victor Martinez connected on back-to-back homers.
"I didn't pitch as well as I hoped I could," Chen said. "I didn't really do my job. I allowed a lot of runs in those innings, but this is just one of the games. I'm just going to be ready for my next one."
Verlander, who has thrown two no-hitters, allowed his first hit on his 78th pitch. The Detroit right-hander also helped his cause with a two-out single in the second inning, which set up Kinsler's homer.
The Marlins caught a break in the 10th inning after A.J. Ramos loaded the bases courtesy of three walks. With Gose at the plate with two outs, Ramos' 0-2 pitch went past catcher J.T. Realmuto and to the backstop. Miami got a generous bounce as the ball kicked back to Realmuto. J.D. Martinez retreated to third, but Jose Iglesias was nearly at second base. Realmuto threw to first baseman Justin Bour, who flipped to Gordon at second. Gordon walked Iglesias toward second while watching third base. He eventually tagged Iglesias for the third out.
"It didn't start off very well, it didn't end very well, but there was a lot of good mixed in there," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I was happy about that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Chen struck on elbow; taken deep: The second inning was a painful one for a couple of reasons for Chen. First, he was struck around his left elbow by a comeback liner by Gose, which resulted in an infield single. Statcast™ tracked the liner at 104 mph off the bat. Shaken, Chen threw two warmups and stayed in. But the inning got away from Chen after Verlander singled, and Kinsler connected on his three-run homer. All the damage came with two outs and in a five-pitch span. After the second inning, Chen wore compression sleeves.
"Yes, I feel fortunate the hit was on my muscle, the bone was fine," Chen said. "A couple of days of rest, I think I will be fine."
Verlander makes history with the bat: No Tigers pitcher had recorded a hit on Opening Day since Mickey Lolich in 1971. For that matter, no American League pitcher had recorded an Opening Day base hit since Milwaukee's Bill Parsons and Oakland's Ken Holtzman both singled on April 15, 1972. Not only did Verlander break the drought with his third career hit, his two-out single extended the second inning for Kinsler's homer. Verlander continued to outhit the Marlins until the sixth.
"I was really excited about that home run just because Justin got a base hit right in front of me, a two-out base hit, and gave me an opportunity to come to the plate right there with a runner in scoring position," Kinsler said.
Upton supports Verlander: Justin Upton's first game as an American Leaguer pitted him against a familiar National League foe. While he had been a .247 career hitter at Marlins Park, he was a .287 hitter against Miami overall. Upton added to that with a first-inning double to move Kinsler to third base, then a leadoff single in the fifth before scoring on a Nick Castellanos sacrifice fly. Upton also ranged in left field for several running grabs in support of Verlander, and made a lunging grab at the fence on Adeiny Hechavarria's hard-hit line drive in the ninth, turning an extra-base hit into a sacrifice fly off Francisco Rodriguez.
"He takes a lot of pride in that side of the ball," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's out there every day in batting practice taking balls off the bat, and this guy's a veteran."
Moon shot for Stanton: With the roof open, Giancarlo Stanton nearly gave the ball a ride to the moon. Stanton's two-run homer in the sixth inning landed an estimated 401 feet away from home plate, according to Statcast™. The exit velocity was 111 mph, and the launch angle was 37 degrees. It was the three-time All-Star's first homer since June 24, 2015. Two days later, he broke his left hamate bone and missed the remainder of the season. More >
QUOTABLE "We've all got fight in us. We did everything we could to keep ourselves in the game. They got on top of us early. We've got no quit in us. It's going to be that way all year. We've got some fire to us this year. We all love each other. We're a team. We fought back. I'm real proud of these guys. It really just didn't work out for us tonight. But we put ourselves in position where we could win late. It just didn't happen." -- Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich
"Definitely it's painful. I'll go out there now and go to sleep thinking about it. Honestly, I'm not going to be able to sleep. The game's going to continue in the back of my head. But once the game starts tomorrow, everything has to be behind you." -- Rodriguez, on his blown save in his Tigers debut
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Gordon, who went 3-for-6, recorded a career-high three extra-base hits.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Anibal Sanchez returns to his former home park to face his old team Wednesday at 4:55 p.m. ET, but his concern is a full, healthy season in a Tigers uniform. He returns from a struggling 2015 season and Spring Training triceps inflammation to take the second slot in Detroit's rotation as the season-opening series wraps up.
Marlins: Jose Fernandez has been perfect at Marlins Park. The 23-year-old will see if he can keep his winning streak intact on Wednesday in the series finale. Fernandez is 17-0 (1.40 ERA) in 26 career starts in Miami. The streak is an MLB record for any pitcher to start his career at home.