DETROIT - Orioles manager Brandon Hyde knew exactly what was coming. When the Tigers were making their first bullpen move and which reliever would enter the game.
There are certain tendencies that begin to take shape. The trick is being able to counterpunch.
Left-hander Daniel Norris worked three innings for the seventh start in a row and right-hander Drew VerHagen replaced him for the sixth time during that stretch. The Tigers didn’t send out alerts to the visiting side, but Hyde and his staff can interpret trends.
Hyde put Hanser Alberto atop the order and Richie Martin at shortstop, as he usually does versus southpaws. But the lineup also included Mason Williams, a left-handed hitter whose contract was selected earlier this month.
Norris strung together three scoreless innings with only one hit allowed and VerHagen blanked the Orioles over the next four. But Trey Mancini, who’s in the lineup no matter the setup, hit a three-run homer off right-hander Bryan Garcia in the eighth to give the Orioles a lead.
It wasn’t the knockout punch, however.
Victor Reyes hit a game-tying home run off Mychal Givens with two outs in the ninth to set up Rio Ruiz’s tie-breaking single off left-hander Daniel Stumpf in the 12th, which set up John Hicks’ walk-off grand slam off Ryan Eades, which gave the Tigers an 8-4 win at Comerica Park.
Eades walked Brandon Dixon on four pitches for force in the tying run. Hicks got ahead 2-0 and eventually hit his first career slam.
There’s only so much that Hyde can predict.
The Orioles are now 48-100. Their 100th loss last season came on Sept. 7. The Tigers are 44-103 and still unsure whether they’re getting the top pick in the 2020 First-Year Player Draft.
Michigan native Paul Fry struck out Reyes on three pitches to end the 11th after inheriting a runner in scoring position from Branden Kline. Right-hander David McKay walked Williams with two outs, Stumpf walked Chance Sisco and Ruiz lined a single into center field.
Sisco was the third catcher used by Hyde, who also sent 10 pitchers to the mound. Eades was the last after Fry walked Harold Castro on four pitches, Travis Demeritte doubled with one out and Dawel Lugo was walked intentionally.
Eades, making only his third appearance with the Orioles and gathering rust in the bullpen, lost Dixon without intent. And Hicks walked it off.
Givens, pitching for the third time in four nights, got a strikeout and fly ball before Reyes connected on a 95 mph fastball - only his third career home run in 155 games.
Garcia retired pinch-hitters DJ Stewart and Ruiz in the eighth, but Alberto and Jonathan Villar singled and moved up on left fielder Christin Stewart’s throwing error and Mancini pulled a slider into the left field seats for a 3-2 lead.
Only seven of Mancini’s 32 home runs have gone to left. He’s hit 17 to center and eight to right.
Lugo doubled off Miguel Castro with one out in the bottom of the eighth, but was stranded at third base after a ground ball and strikeout.
The bullpen turned in 4 2/3 scoreless innings before Reyes’ home run.
Gabriel Ynoa made his first start since Sept. 3 and surrendered two runs and seven hits in four-plus innings. He walked a batter and threw a costly wild pitch. Lots of activity in a limited amount of time.
Ynoa couldn’t keep the bases clean, though he limited the damage. He allowed two singles in the first and a single and walk in the second without the Tigers scoring, but Harold Castro homered with one out in the third, yanking a 93.4 mph fastball into the right field seats for a 1-0 lead.
Stewart singled with two outs, giving the Tigers six baserunners among 13 batters.
Ynoa retired the side in order in the fourth, his pitch count at 54, but Willi Castro opened the fifth with a single, moved up on the wild pitch and scored on Reyes’ single.
Reyes stole second base, but Tanner Scott got a ground ball and strikeout against left-handed hitters, sandwiched around an intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera, and Lugo grounded into a force against Dillon Tate to keep the score 2-0.
VerHagen hit Richie Martin leading off the sixth. Martin stole second with one out and Villar walked, but the shutout bid remained intact.
Anthony Santander struck out looking on a pitch that appeared to be outside. He also struck out in his next two at-bats and is in an 0-for-24 slump.
Núñez led off the seventh with a single into left-center field and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. The baserunning mistakes are a major source of frustration for Hyde.
Mancini has been a joy. So, too, has a bullpen that led the majors in ERA since Aug. 20.
It just couldn’t hold up tonight.
Hyde on rough way to lose: “It’s obviously a disappointing loss. We like the way our guys battled. We took the lead twice, once with Trey’s homer and then there in the top of the 12th. A lot of our bullpen guys threw well. I thought we did a nice job, played pretty well defensively. Just didn’t get it done.”
Hyde on extra relievers still tricky if some haven’t pitched much: “We obviously have a big number here and going with guys trying to win the game. A lot of these guys are going to get some opportunities here these next couple of weeks, so hoping they can come in and contribute.”
Hyde on Ruiz getting hit off lefty: “Against a really good lefty in Stumpf. To hang in there on a slider and get a big base hit for us. Just too bad we didn’t hold on.”
Hyde on Mancini: “That was a huge one for us. Got huge power and nice to see him swing the bat well.”
Hyde on Ynoa: “I thought Ynoa did a nice job. He got through the lineup twice and Tanner Scott did a really nice job getting him out of that inning. And we pieced it together. We were one out away through nine and two outs away through 12.”
Hyde on Eades, who’s pitched twice since Aug. 30: “Tough spot to put him in. I feel bad for it. That’s just a tough spot. All right-handers coming up, I needed a right-hander there and just wasn’t his night.”
Fry on 12th: “I got a lefty, a leadoff lefty. That’s supposed to be my specialty. I let it get away from me.”
Fry on twice losing late leads: “It’s tough because we’re all battling all game long, and come back. We take the lead in the last inning there. It’s tough to lose that way, for sure.
“Just being in the dugout when we scored that run and seeing how excited we are, it just hurts to go out there and have it end the way it did.”
Fry on how he felt: “I felt fine. I told him I was ready to go. I’ve just got to execute better.”
Eades on tough spot for him: “That’s a difficult spot for anybody. I just didn’t do my job tonight. Timing was a little off and threw some balls, got behind in counts, put myself in a tough spot. Big league hitters take advantage of those mistakes, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Eades on whether falling behind hitters influenced walk-off pitch: “I threw, what, six balls in a row, and you’re just trying to pound the zone at that point. Really, the whole time, but falling behind with six straight balls, I was just trying to pound the zone to get back in there and just left a slider over the plate. He took advantage of it, and that was it.”
Eades on spacing between appearances: “With the rosters expanded and stuff, the bullpen, we have, like, 14 guys. We understand. It’s going to be longer between some of the outings for us guys that are getting this opportunity in September, and that’s just part of it. That’s how it goes. Just didn’t do my job tonight. That’s kind of all it boils down to.”
Eades on whether he expected to pitch: “I’m always ready. When the phone rings, you prepare yourself as if it’s going to be your name called. It was the 10th inning, we were using a lot of pitchers already. I was ready to go. Just didn’t execute tonight.”