DETROIT (AP) — Victor Reyes hit a pinch-hit tiebreaking inside-the-park home run in the eighth inning and the Detroit Tigers held on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 on Friday night.
Reyes, hitting for Zack Short, led off the inning with a sinking drive to center. Josh Palacios missed a diving attempt at the catch and the ball rolled to the wall. Reyes hit third base at full speed, and the aggressive baserunning paid off as Reyes slid safely under Marcus Semien’s high relay throw to the plate.
“I’m happy, because that’s the first one of my career and we got the win,” Reyes said through a translator. “But (third-base coach) Santiago deserves all the credit — as soon as I came around second, I saw him waving me home, so I ran as fast as I could.”
Blue Jays manager Charley Montoyo said he would discuss the play with his rookie centerfielder on Saturday.
“He’s a young guy and he’s trying to make a play, but that was a mistake,” Montoyo said. “It’s 420 feet to the wall in center here, so if that ball gets by you, the hitter is going to score. We’ll talk tomorrow, but he knows it was the wrong play.”
Reyes became the first major leaguer since 1961 (expansion era) to have a pinch-hit go-ahead inside-the-park home run, the Tigers said. Ben Oglivie is the only other Tigers player to hit a pinch-hit inside-the-park home run, on June 2, 1976.
“That was an incredible send by (Santiago),” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “(Corey) Dickerson did a nice job of backing up the play, but we always preach being aggressive and we forced them to make a perfect relay and it went high.”
Jose Cisnero (3-4) picked up the win and Gregory Soto pitched the ninth for his 16th save. Tim Mayza (4-2) took the loss after allowing the Reyes home run.
Neither starter was involved in the decision. Detroit’s Matt Manning allowed one run on six hits in six innings.
“He did a nice job, but we’re really struggling at the plate,” Montoyo said. “I think it is more about us not swinging the bats than anyone’s pitching.”
Steven Matz allowed one run in six innings, albeit with only four hits. He stayed in the game after getting hit on the right ankle by a line drive — a play he turned into a 1-3-1 out by racing to first for Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s throw.
“At that point, you aren’t even thinking about pain, you’re just trying to get the out,” he said. “It didn’t start to hurt until after the play, but I was OK.”
The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the third on doubles by Bo Bichette and Guerrero Jr.
Kevin Smith came close to making it 2-0 in the fourth, but Tigers centerfielder Derek Hill reached over the fence to pull back a potential home run ball. Instead, the Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera — the 2,959th hit of his career.
With one out in the seventh, Adam Cimber threw away a pickoff attempt at first, allowing Eric Haase to reach third. Cimber escaped the trouble on a grounder to the mound and a pop-up.
“We had that great opportunity in the seventh and didn’t get it, which made Victor’s play even bigger in the eighth,” Hinch said.
TORONTO: The Blue Jays placed LHP Brad Hand on the bereavement list and recalled RHP Connor Overton from Triple-A Buffalo. Toronto also claimed OF Jarrod Dyson on waivers from the Kansas City Royals.
“He’s an older guy who has been to the World Series, so we think it is a perfect time for him to come over and help us,” Montoyo said of Dyson.
DETROIT: The Tigers designated LHP Ian Krol for assignment after the game to make room for the roster on José Ureña, Saturday’s scheduled starter. Ureña has been out since July 17 with a groin strain.
HONORING NO. 500
The Tigers celebrated Cabrera’s 500th homer before the bottom of the first inning. Members of his family changed the counter in left-centerfield from 499 to 500, and he came out of the dugout for a standing ovation. Awkwardly, Matz had to watch the ceremony from the mound, five days after giving up the milestone homer in Toronto.
“We had to tell Miggy something was going to happen, because we didn’t want him to start swinging in the cage and miss it,” Hinch said. “I don’t think he knew his family was out there, though, so that was nice.”
The sign was quietly changed to the current number – 501 – during the second inning.
The teams continue their weekend series on Saturday evening, with Urena (2-8, 6.19) scheduled to start against Alex Manoah (5-2, 3.18).
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