CLEVELAND — An overturned call in the first inning, thanks to a wise challenge from manager A.J. Hinch, changed the outcome of Tuesday's game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Guardians.
Hinch's knowledge of the rulebook was tested on a crucial play at the plate. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale determined Javier Báez was tagged out by Guardians catcher Austin Hedges for the third out in the first inning.
What Hinch recognized (and Barksdale missed) on the play at the plate was the home-plate collision rule, which states a catcher must provide a runner with a lane to the plate before receiving the ball.
But Hedges' foot blocked Báez's path to the plate.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead on the overturned call.
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) August 16, 2022
The call on the field was overturned, and the Tigers ended up scoring three runs off right-hander Zach Plesac in the first inning en route to a 4-3 victory over the Guardians in the third of four games in the series at Progressive Field.
The Tigers (45-74) won back-to-back games for the first time since winning six in a row from July 4-8. The offense — sparked by Kerry Carpenter's two-run home run immediately following Hinch's personal victory over the umpires — recorded 11 hits and four walks with six strikeouts.
After the replay review won by the Tigers, Carpenter stepped to the plate.
The 24-year-old hammered a seventh-pitch elevated fastball to right-center field for a two-run homer, his second long ball in as many games. The Tigers controlled a 3-0 advantage after the first inning.
Carpenter became the fifth Tiger since 2000 — and the eighth MLB player this season — to have two home runs in his first five career games, joining Akil Baddoo (2021), Eugenio Suarez (2014), Alex Avila (2009) and Brent Clevlen (2006).
He finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, two walks and one strikeout in Tuesday's win. Harold Castro went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, while Baddoo produced two hits on his 24th birthday.
Plesac allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 5⅓ innings.
This Carpenter really knows how to work with wood! 💪 pic.twitter.com/sFCGqjz4jg
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 16, 2022
The Guardians, trailing 4-1, capitalized on a mistake in the seventh, but before they could add more than one run, the throw-and-tag efforts of catcher Tucker Barnhart and Báez, the shortstop, silenced the home team.
Tyler Freeman, the leadoff hitter that inning, reached safely and advanced to second base on a missed catcher error by Castro at first base. Freeman then reached third on a deep flyout and scored on Myles Straw's groundout.
That cut Cleveland's deficit to 4-2.
Steven Kwan, facing right-handed reliever Jason Foley, brought the game-tying run to the plate with a two-out single. He tried to steal second base on a second-pitch sinker to Amed Rosario, but Barnhart threw a bullet to Báez, who applied a quick no-look tag for the third out.
The Guardians lost their challenge.
In the eighth, the Tigers found themselves in trouble again.
Rosario cranked a leadoff triple off right-hander Joe Jiménez, and Jose Ramirez followed with an RBI single to trim the Tigers' lead to 4-3. Jiménez retired the next two batters but had to face pinch-hitter Josh Naylor, a left-handed hitter with 15 home runs this season. Naylor grounded out to end the inning.
Once again, this time in the ninth inning, the Tigers were on the brink of destruction. Left-handed closer Gregory Soto gave up a leadoff double to Freeman, and Austin Hedges advanced him to third base with a sacrifice bunt.
But Soto struck out Myles Straw and got Kan to groundout for his 22nd save of the season.
King of the Hill
Right-hander Garrett Hill backed his offense with a quality start, allowing one run on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts across six innings. The 26-year-old has given up three earned runs over his past three starts, spanning 16⅔ innings.
He threw 58 of 95 pitches for strikes.
The Guardians scored their lone run against Hill in the first inning, a product of back-to-back singles from Kwan and Rosario. Ramirez grounded into a force out, which drove in Kwan from first base to make it 3-1.
Hill had runners on the corners and one out in the first inning, but he worked out of the jam without further damage. He threw 26 pitches in the first and bounced back with a clean, 11-pitch second inning.
After the first, the Guardians did not advance a runner to second base until Foley replaced Hill for the seventh inning. Hill worked around a single in the third, a walk in the fourth and a walk in the fifth.
For Hill's 95 pitches, he threw 46 four-seam fastballs, 18 sliders, 17 sinkers, eight changeups and six curveballs. He logged eight swings and misses — three fastballs and five sliders — and picked up 16 called strikes.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: A.J. Hinch early challenge helps Detroit Tigers beat Guardians, 4-3