Rookies help Tigers beat Red Sox 8-6
JUN 07, 2014 11:10p ET
DETROIT -- There were a lot of ugly things about Saturday's 8-6 win over the Boston Red Sox.
"In my first at-bat, he threw me a cutter and then in the second at-bat, he threw me a 3-2 cutter and I fouled it off," Suarez said. "He's a good pitcher, but when he threw me another cutter, I was ready for it and hit it good enough for a homer."
Suarez also walked twice and became the first Tiger to score twice in his first start since Brent Cleven in 2006 -- all that for a kid who started the season in Double-A and then injured himself in his first big-league game.
Suarez got the traditional silent treatment when he returned to the dugout after his homer, but his teammates weren't able to keep it up for long.
"When I got down in the dugout, no one said anything to me," he said. "But then everyone was congratulating me, and Miggy and Torii both gave me hugs. They told me, 'Welcome to the big leagues.'"
Suarez also showed the defensive skills that have made him a top Tigers prospect, ranging far to the right of second base to make a spectacular play against Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia was eventually ruled safe after a replay appeal, but it was a play that few veteran shortstops could have made close, much less a 22-year-old with a sore knee.
"I feel like I'm ready to help this team on offense and on defense," he said. "If they give me a chance, I'm going to work hard every day to help this team."
Suarez was hardly the only rookie to sparkle on Saturday night, though. Nick Castellanos continued his torrid hitting, homering as part of his third straight three-hit game.
"This was cool," Castellanos said. "When was the last time two 22-year-olds homered in a Tigers game?
"We lived together in the dorms when we were 18, and now we're both hitting home runs in the same big-league game. It's awesome having your dreams and your friend's dreams come true at the same time."
Castellanos is hitting .500 in his last eight games and became the first Tigers rookie to get at least three hits in three straight games since Rick Peters in 1980.
"The way I'm going right now, I don't even know where my hands are or where my feet are," he said. "I think if you ask good hitters about when they are going well, all they are thinking about is the baseball. I'm not thinking about anything right now but trying to hit something hard."
It's way too early to say that Castellanos and Suarez have locked down the left side of the Detroit infield for years to come, but Saturday was certainly a good day for the two best offensive prospects in the Tigers system.
And without the two rookies, the Tigers would probably have been looking at another ugly loss.
Scherzer allowed four runs in 6 2/3 innings but was bailed out by a remarkably bad performance from Lester. The two hooked up in a pitching duel last month in Boston, where Lester allowed five runs on 12 hits in just 4 1/3 innings.
"I flat-out ruined this game for us," Lester said of Saturday's performance. "When you score four runs off Max -- the best pitcher on a great team -- you have to win that game, and I wasted our chance to do that.
"When I did throw a good pitch, and those were few and far between, they fouled them off or hit them into a hole. All the rest of my pitches? The bad ones? They did exactly what a great hitting team does to bad pitches."
Lester's struggles and Detroit's offense let the Tigers take what looked like a comfortable 8-4 lead into the ninth inning. That's when Nathan's struggles almost cost the Tigers another game.
He allowed two runs, and by the time that Stephen Drew lined out to end the game, the Red Sox had the tying runs on base and the go-ahead run at the plate.
Nathan, 39, has a 7.04 ERA, allowing 18 runs in 23 innings, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus knows that his roster doesn't have anyone else who's been a closer in the major leagues.
"We're going to need Joe Nathan to be our closer, so we have to let him go out there and pitch his way through this," Ausmus said. "He obviously threw more pitches tonight than we wanted, but he was able to get through the inning.
"He's a professional, and he and (Jeff Jones) are looking at video and talking about any little mechanical flow that could be the root cause of this. He will get it ironed out. We need him to get it ironed out."