We expected home runs tonight.
The Tigers called up Anibal Sanchez from AAA to start tonight’s game. No one was quite sure why he was here because it didn’t appear as though he had worked out his problems in the minors after losing his starting job in Spring Training. In 21 innings in the Major Leagues this season, he had given up 9 home runs.
Yet, until the 5th inning it looked like an okay move for the Tigers. Despite loading the bases in the 2nd with 2 walks and a hit by pitch (he would escape without yielding a run), he kept the Mariner offense under control.
On the Mariner’s side, Sam Gaviglio had the start and pitched a solid 5 innings. He gave up 2 runs and walked 4, but kept the game in hand.
Then, Taylor Motter led off the bottom of the 5th with a single off Sanchez’s leg. Ben Gamel followed with a fly out to left field, the latest player who could only seem to muster warning track power.
Guillermo Heredia wasn’t buying this lack of power. He stepped to the plate ready to add insult to Sachez’s injury. He grabbed a fastball and sent it flying deep and far over the fence and into the Mariners bullpen to put his team on the board:
That was it for Sanchez, but his replacement didn’t fare much better. Alex Wilson took over in the 6th inning. After striking out Danny Valencia, he allowed a bunt base hit to Jarrod Dyson. Mike Zunino’s bat found a mistake slider and drove it to the bullpen stairs in left field.
This is something you have to see to believe:
Zunino wasn’t done either. In the 8th inning he hit another 2-run home run on another pitch down in the zone that was impossible to imagine him hitting 2 months ago.
The Mariner bullpen held the Tigers scoreless after Gaviglio finished his work. Cishek found himself with bases loaded in the 6th inning due to a Taylor Motter error on a likely double play ball. James Pazos came in to replace him and got two huge strike outs to end the inning and the last Tiger scoring threat.
We expected home runs tonight. Two of them from Mike Zunino was a fun way to get them.
- Sam Gaviglio and Mike Zunino made up and Italian heritage battery tonight. Guillermo Heredia was worried about American food when he began playing the United States. Thanks to Leonys Martin introducing him to the Olive Garden, he was able to put on some weight and improve enough to become a Major Leaguer. Tonight’s win had an Italian-inspired flavor to it.
- Mike Zunino has been incredible since he returned from his stint in Tacoma. His wRC+ is sitting at 106 coming into the game. It was a lowly 36 at the time of his demotion. His K% is still high; 37.5 when he was sent down, 39% coming into tonight’s game. Whatever the reason for his recent success, you can’t help but be happy to see him break out like this.
- And, of course, Mike gets the Swelmet:
Look how happy he is! If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, perhaps you should ask the wizard for a heart.