Javier Baez walk-off hit delivers Detroit Tigers dramatic 5-4 win over White Sox in opener

Javier Baez walk-off hit delivers Detroit Tigers dramatic 5-4 win over White Sox in opener

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez took a swing at Liam Hendriks‘ 33rd pitch and produced the sixth-career walk-off hit of his MLB career.

The ball ricocheted off the right-field wall, scoring Austin Meadows, for a 5-4 victory on Opening Day in front of 43,480 fans at Comerica Park. The play was initially ruled an out, but replay review overturned the call, and the Tigers came pouring out of the dugout to mob Baez as the crowd went wild.

Eric Haase tied the game with one out in the ninth on a solo home run to left field.

Miguel Cabrera also came up large one inning earlier, slinging a tying two-run single to right-center field to knot the score at 3-3.

Cabrera’s two-run single off Liam Hendriks came with the bases loaded.

But White Sox designated hitter Andrew Vaughn delivered a go-ahead solo home run in the ninth. The homer allowed by Tigers closer Gregory Soto, put the White Sox in front 4-3 and spoiled the Tigers’ Opening Day anticipation following a busy offseason of free-agent additions and trade acquisitions.

Replay review

Facing Kyle Crick in the sixth inning, Grossman was hit by a first-pitch slider and Meadows worked a seven-pitch walk. Baez nearly sent the fans into a frenzy with a home run, but the ball he connected with traveled 332 feet for a flyout to the left-field warning track.

Candelario put the Tigers on the scoreboard in the sixth with a one-out single up the middle. He trimmed Detroit’s deficit to 3-1 but costed his team a second run.

The next batter, Cabrera, grounded out to White Sox shortstop Leury Garcia.

Garcia flipped the ball to second baseman Josh Harrison, who fired down to Jose Abreu for a double play. Candelario, advancing to second base, was initially deemed safe, but the umpires ruled slide interference.

A replay review upheld the decision on the field.

Instead of Meadows scoring from third base, the Tigers — because of Candelario’s slide interference — fell into an inning-ending double play.

Baez finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts; Meadows went 0-for-1 with three walks.

He shined defensively with a web-gem for the second out in the second inning — making a backhanded pick deep in the hole at shortstop, spinning, planting his feet and throwing a dart to Torkelson at first base.

What Eduardo Rodriguez showed

Like Giolito, Rodriguez pitched four innings.

Unlike Giolito, though, Rodriguez wasn’t removed from his start due to an injury. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks in four innings, throwing 83 pitches.

A surplus of those pitches were thrown in the first inning, as Rodriguez — signed to a five-year, $77 million contract this offseason — needed 31 pitches to get three outs. He also threw 27 pitches in the second.

In both innings, Rodriguez recorded outs against the first two batters he faced.

Then, the 29-year-old crumbled.

In the first, he struck out AJ Pollock and got Luis Robert to groundout. The next three opponents reached safely: Jose Abreu (walk), Yasmani Grandal (walk) and Eloy Jimenez (RBI single). In the second, he recorded a flyout and groundout but ran into trouble against Jake Burger (double), Pollock (RBI single) and Robert (RBI double).

The White Sox, on RBIs from Jimenez, Pollock and Robert, had a 3-0 lead after the third inning.

Rodriguez, who tossed 52 of 83 pitches for strikes, retired the next six batters he faced, carrying him through the fourth inning, but Tigers manager AJ Hinch didn’t let his Opening Day starter return for the fifth.

He had five swings and missed, 11 called strikes and two strikeouts in his Tigers debut.

Giolito injured

White Sox starter Lucas Giolito didn’t pitch beyond the fourth inning, exiting the game with left-side abdominal tightness.

The White Sox turned to Bennett Sousa, Crick, Kendall Graveman, Aaron Bummer and Hendriks for five innings out of the bullpen.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers stun White Sox on Javier Baez walk-off in opener

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