Detroit Tigers blow lead in ninth, lose 7-4 to Tampa Bay Rays in extra innings on HR

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Akil Baddoo didn't wait around to inform Tampa Bay Rays starter Luis Patino that the Detroit Tigers were ready for Friday's matchup. He tagged a third-pitch fastball and sent the ball over the right-field wall for a leadoff home run.

Five days ago, Patino faced the Tigers at Comerica Park. He didn't allow a runner to reach until the third inning, gave up just two runs and pitched into the fifth frame. In the rematch, the Tigers were determined not to let Patino repeat his early dominance.

But Baddoo's powerful introduction, starting pitcher Casey Mize's limited one-run outing and solid bullpen efforts didn't matter in the ninth inning. Left-hander Gregory Soto and righty Michael Fulmer squandered a three-run advantage to send the game to extra innings.

Tied at four runs, Brett Phillips hit a walk-off three-run in the 10th inning off Bryan Garcia to hand the Tigers an 7-4 loss at Tropicana Field. The Tigers (70-78) have dropped two in a row against the Rays to begin the four-game series.

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Detroit Tigers' Akil Baddoo, right, celebrates his home run with teammate Robbie Grossman during the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Detroit Tigers' Akil Baddoo, right, celebrates his home run with teammate Robbie Grossman during the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Rays loaded the bases without any outs in the ninth inning. Soto was hit in the throwing hand by Manuel Margot's line-drive single. A visit from athletic trainer Doug Teter deemed Soto healthy enough to stay in the game, but he walked Francisco Mejia and gave up a single to Brandon Lowe.

With the bases juiced, Tigers manager AJ Hinch brought in Fulmer.

Yandy Diaz singled on a first-pitch two-seam fastball, driving in two runs to cut the Tigers' lead to 4-3. An ensuing wild pitch put runners on the corners for Randy Arozarena. His sacrifice fly to center field plated Lowe to knot the score at four runs.

In the 10th inning, the Tigers stranded Niko Goodrum — the free extra-inning runner on second base — at third base. Tampa Bay reliever Andrew Kittredge retired Victor Reyes (groundout), Baddoo (groundout) and Jonathan Schoop (strikeout) in order.

Schoop finished 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Early runs

A first-inning response from the Rays didn't matter, as the Tigers took back the lead, 2-1, on Goodrum's one-out RBI double to the right-field corner in the second. He plated Harold Castro, who had dropped in a double to left.

The Tigers extended their lead, 3-1, on Reyes' groundout to second base. (Before the grounder, Goodrum advanced to third base on Patino's wild pitch.) The fourth run was scored in the third inning with one out and the bases loaded.

Robbie Grossman (walk), Miguel Cabrera (single) and Jeimer Candelario (single) reached safely to put pressure on Patino. Harold Castro, known for his bat-to-ball skills, attacked a first-pitch fastball and sent the ball to left field.

Once Arozarena made the catch, Grossman started his sprint toward home plate. Arozarena made a strong and accurate throw, but Grossman slid home safely just before the tag from Mejia. (The Rays challenged, but a replay review confirmed the call on the field from home plate umpire Jerry Meals.)

Detroit Tigers' Robbie Grossman, left, beats the tag of Tampa Bay Rays catcher Francisco Mejia while sliding safely home during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Detroit Tigers' Robbie Grossman, left, beats the tag of Tampa Bay Rays catcher Francisco Mejia while sliding safely home during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

After the third inning, however, the Tigers couldn't score against Patino. He locked back in to complete six innings, conceding four runs on six hits and one walk. He struck out four and tossed 80 pitches. The Rays then went to Luis Head, who was the first-inning opener in Thursday's contest, for the seventh.

Limited but solid

Making his third shortened start in September, Mize faced a lineup loaded with left-handed hitters. The 24-year-old rookie allowed one run on three hits and one walk with three strikeouts, tossing 33 of 53 pitches for strikes.

The only damage came in the first inning, when Ji-Man Choi (single) and Arozarena (double) put themselves into scoring position for Austin Meadows, who picked up his 100th RBI of the season. He is Tampa Bay's first player to reach the season-long milestone since Evan Longoria in 2010.

Meadows' sacrifice fly to right field easily scored Arozarena, tying the game at one run.

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize (12) looks on during the second inning Sept. 17, 2021 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize (12) looks on during the second inning Sept. 17, 2021 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Mize worked around a single in the second inning and a walk in the third to conclude his outing without additional trouble.

In the third, the right-hander struck out back-to-back batters for the first and second outs, feasting on Choi with one of his best splitters and getting Arozarena to whiff at a slider. Meadows lined out to center field for his final out.

Throwing 53 pitches, Mize used 26 four-seam fastballs (49%), 13 sliders (25%), eight splitters (15%), four knuckle curves (8%) and two two-sam fastballs (4%). He picked up seven swings and misses: three with his four-seamer, three with his slider and one with his splitter.

Bullpen takes over

Following Mize's three innings, the Tigers turned to left-handed reliever Derek Holland. Entering Friday, the 13-year MLB veteran had pitched well against lefty hitters, allowing a .238 opponent batting average and one of his six home runs allowed in 2021.

Holland displayed more of the same success in his 35th appearance of the season. He pitched a scoreless fourth inning and recorded the first two outs in the fifth before Choi lined a curveball off Holland's back for a single.

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Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Derek Holland (49) gives a thumbs-up signal while leaving the game against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning  Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Derek Holland (49) gives a thumbs-up signal while leaving the game against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Despite getting hit, Holland smiled as he walked off the field. Hinch didn't want him to face Arozarena, a right-handed hitter, so he brought in righty reliever Drew Hutchison. The move didn't pay off, as Hutchison walked Arozarena on four pitches and took Meadows to a full count before walking him to load the bases.

But Wendle grounded out to first base, ending the fifth inning.

Hutchison collected himself and completed the sixth, and Alex Lange cruised through the top of the Rays' lineup in the seventh. Right-hander Kyle Funkhouser hadn't pitched since Sept. 14, but he came out for the eighth and had no issues.

Funkhouser tossed a perfect eighth, using 11 pitches.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him 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 blow lead late, lose 7-4 to Tampa Bay Rays in 10th

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