When the baseball skipped past Billy Hamilton’s outstretched glove in center field, Detroit Tigers slugger Eric Haase put his legs into another gear. Known for driving home runs over the fence, Haase unleashed his secret weapon.
“When he dove, it got by him,” Haase said. “I knew it was time to turn it on.”
Hamilton chased after the ball, which rolled to the warning track. Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Cabrera scored easily. Third base coach Chip Hale aggressively waved his arm. Haase chugged around third base and crossed home plate for a three-run, inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning.
But that moment wasn’t the only reasons fans applauded Saturday at Comerica Park. The Tigers (37-46) scored four more runs in the fifth inning, propelling them to a 11-5 win over the Chicago White Sox in the second of three games in the series.
Entering Saturday, Detroit had lost 18 of its past 20 games against the White Sox.
“Wins, we’ll take them from whoever we can be lucky enough to get them from,” Haase said. “But these guys have notoriously beat us up a little bit. We’ve just been playing really good baseball, and to be doing it against the (American League Central) division leaders is huge.”
Haase’s inside-the-park home run was the first by a Tiger since JaCoby Jones’ on Aug. 10, 2020, against the White Sox.
For their 11 runs, the Tigers recorded 10 hits and eight walks — scoring three runs in the fourth inning, four in the fifth, three in the seventh and one in the eighth. Haase crushed his second home run in the seventh (this one over the fence in right field). It marked his fourth multi-homer game in 2021.
His three-run blast pushed the Tigers’ lead to 10-5.
“They have played us very tough this year,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “We’ve had some close games that slipped away against them. They’re leading the division for a reason. They have a ton of talent and they’re doing a good job of collecting a lot of wins. Today, we fought back.”
Haase finished 3-for-4 with six RBI. Through 36 games this season, he has 11 home runs. Schoop crushed his team-leading 16th homer (in 79 games) in the eighth inning. His solo homer traveled 440 feet to straightaway center.
“That was a no-doubter off the bat,” Haase said.
Hinch turned to his bullpen in the sixth inning.
His first reliever, right-hander Joe Jimenez, struck out the side, all on fastballs: Hamilton and Danny Mendick went down swinging, and Zack Collins got punched out looking. For Mendick’s whiff to end the inning, Jimenez’s fastball maxed out at 97.3 mph.
Once Jimenez completed his job, Hinch went to his most reliable relievers. Righty Jose Cisnero pitched a scoreless seventh, thanks to an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play started by shortstop Zack Short. Right-hander Kyle Funkhouser added a scoreless eighth, this time behind a 4-6-3 double play started by second baseman Willi Castro.
Righty Buck Farmer pitched a perfect ninth.
“Things are clicking for him,” Hinch said about Jimenez. “Obviously, Fett (pitching coach Chris Fetter) and Juan (Nieves, assistant pitching coach) have done a great job with him, both mentally and physically. I trust him a lot. I said early in the season, ‘Our best bullpen has Joe Jimenez in it.’ … Joe deserves a lot of credit.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers OF Eric Haase hits wild inside-the-park home run