Detroit Free Press

Tigers’ offense explodes in 10th for win at Mets to stay perfect

- Evan Petzold Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him @EvanPetzol­d.

NEW YORK – Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez, the eighth batter in the lineup, stepped to the plate in the third inning at Citi Field for the first time since playing for the New York Mets to finish the 2021 season.

The fans booed him.

The Tigers beat the Mets, 5-0, in Monday’s three-game series opener at Citi Field, their fourth consecutiv­e win to begin the 2024 season and first 4-0 start since 2015. Báez struck out swinging in the third inning, but in the top of the 10th inning, he provided a pivotal insurance run with a sacrifice fly.

As for Báez, there’s history with the Mets. He upset fans in the Big Apple because of his thumbs-down gesture, but he only made the thumbs-down gesture because he was frustrated about the fans booing the team. More than two years later, Mets fans returned the favor by booing the former All-Star shortstop in his return to Citi Field.

Mets left-hander Sean Manaea overpowere­d the Tigers with a flurry of four-seam fastballs and struck out eight batters over six scoreless innings. Right-hander Reese Olson responded by holding the Mets scoreless throughout his start.

The Tigers and Mets took a scoreless tie into the ninth inning, when Mets right-handed reliever Edwin Díaz and Tigers right-handed reliever Jason Foley traded punches to send the game to extra innings.

In the 10th inning, the Tigers had runners on the corners with one out against right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin. A fielding error by Mets second baseman Joey Wendle voided any opportunit­y for an inning-ending double play a ground ball from pinch-hitter Colt Keith, and as a result of the error, the free extra innings runner scored.

The Tigers extended the lead to 2-0 with Báez’s sacrifice fly. After that, Carson Kelly launched a three-run home run — his first of the season — off Tonkin’s down-and-in sinker for a 5-0 advantage.

Báez finished 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, a single and two strikeouts in his return to Citi Field.

Too aggressive (again)

A game-changing situation occurred in the sixth inning.

Andy Ibáñez, a left-handed hitter, delivered the Tigers’ first hit of the game in the sixth inning. He slapped Manaea’s first-pitch changeup into shallow left field. Third base coach Joey Cora — who had a questionab­le send in Sunday’s 3-2 win that resulted in an easy out — decided to test the arm of left fielder Brandon Nimmo.

Cora waved his arm to send Kelly, whose sprint speed ranked in the 13th percentile last season, in an attempt to score him from second base, even though Nimmo had the ball in his glove before Kelly touched third base.

Kelly, of course, was thrown out.

There was a collision at home plate, but nobody was injured.

Manaea dominated, firing six scoreless innings on one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts. He threw 55 fastballs, 13 changeups, 13 cutters and seven sweepers, generating 13 whiffs.

He threw 63% four-seam fastballs.

Olson battles

Olson threw too many uncompetit­ive pitches in the first inning.

He hit a batter and walked a batter, but he survived his struggles — trouble but no damage —

when Pete Alonso popped out on a middle-middle fastball and Francisco Alvarez grounded into a double play.

Olson finished the second inning with backto-back nasty sliders to strike out Harrison Bader, the first sign of dominance. He settled in by throwing first-pitch strikes to all three batters in the third inning, sending down all three batters.

Olson remained steady into the sixth inning, retiring Francisco Lindor and Alonso during his third time through the Mets’ batting order before Alvarez chased Olson with a ground-ball double to the gap in left-center field.

Right-handed reliever Will Vest replaced Olson for a matchup with DJ Stewart, a left-handed hitter. Vest sprayed three consecutiv­e pitches to fall behind 3-0 in the count, but he used a fourthpitc­h middle-middle fastball to his advantage. Stewart flew out to left field.

Olson threw 52⁄3 scoreless innings on three hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He generated 13 whiffs.

 ?? JOHN JONES/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Tigers starting pitcher Reese Olson threw 52⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, against the Mets on Monday night.
JOHN JONES/USA TODAY SPORTS Tigers starting pitcher Reese Olson threw 52⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, against the Mets on Monday night.

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