DETROIT (AP) — Kerry Carpenter hit a solo home run with two outs in the ninth, lifting the Detroit Tigers to a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday in the opener of a doubleheader.
Detroit has won four straight games, including three in a row with walk-off hits, after starting the season 2-9.
“It’s been fun,” Carpenter said. “That’s a blast.”
Alex Lange (1-0) earned the win after allowing one hit and striking out one in the ninth.
James Karinchak (0-3) took the loss when Carpenter turned on a full-count pitch and sent it soaring over the right-field wall.
Detroit left-hander Matthew Boyd said the key to Carpenter’s success is the 19th-round pick from 2019 believes in himself despite never being a highly touted player in professional baseball.
“No surprise that he’s the guy, coming up big in situations like this,” Boyd said. “It’s pretty cool to see and he’s a huge asset to our team.”
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead on Javier Baez’s sacrifice fly in the first inning.
Josh Bell, signed by Cleveland to provide some extra-base pop, hit a game-tying double in the fourth and scored when Oscar Gonzalez hit Boyd’s next pitch over the left-field wall to give the Guardians a 3-1 lead.
Baez’s RBI single and Carpenter’s run-scoring double in the fifth tied it at 3-3 before Carpenter’s third homer of the season gave Detroit the win.
Boyd allowed three runs, five hits and two walks over five innings. Mason Englert pitched three scoreless innings and Lange kept the score tied in the ninth.
Cleveland right-hander Hunter Gaddis allowed three runs and eight hits and a walk over five innings.
“Sometimes the command is not where it will be, but he competes like crazy and he gave us a chance to win,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said.
Eli Morgan, Nick Sandlin and Karinchak combined for 3 2-3 innings of scoreless relief for the Guardians until Carpenter hit the walk-off homer off a high fastball.
“That’s kind of where he was going with it,” Francona said. “He’s trying to stay up. He got it by him on the foul ball, but give the kid credit, he got to it.”
The game, which was added after Monday night’s game was postponed because of poor weather conditions, drew a very small crowd of perhaps 100 people on a blustery afternoon that was 39 degrees with 16 mph winds for the first pitch.
“It actually wasn’t horrible,” said Carpenter, who had three hits. “My hands get a little cold all the time in the field, but other than that it was fine.”
The crowd was slightly larger and it was several degrees warmer for the second game.
Cleveland shortstop Amed Rosario was out of the lineup with a back injury and his replacement, Tyler Freeman, had a banged-up left shoulder evaluated after the game. Detroit’s Spencer Torkelson made contact with Freeman’s shoulder when he stole second base in the fourth inning. Freeman, who was recalled from Triple-A Columbus, stayed in the game and finished as the only Guardian to have multiple hits in the first game.
Cleveland RHP Enyel De Los Santos, who is 1-0 in seven games, was placed on the paternity list and LHP Konnor Pilkington was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to give the team a 27th man for the doubleheader.