Last year Grimm lasted just one inning against the Tigers, allowing six runs. Saturday night Grimm exited to a standing ovation from a sellout crowd after 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a 7-2 Texas victory.
The win improved the Rangers to a major-league best 28-15 and gave them their best start after 43 games in club history.
While the offense was big, it was Grimm who made their work easier by taming the Tigers. Grimm (3-3) was able to hold the American League’s most potent offense to seven hits and he got better as the game went on, allowing just two runners to reach after the third inning.
It was a huge boost for a rookie right-hander who had lost his last three decisions and had not-so-fond memories of his only other start vs. the Tigers.
“My whole thing was I didn’t want to carry last year into tonight,” Grimm said. “I know they roughed me up pretty good and they have some dangerous hitters all throughout their lineup. It was really good. It’s a team you have to take pitch-by-pitch.”
Detroit had baserunners in each of the first three innings against Grimm, running his streak of allowing a runner on base to reach 12 innings. He wobbled in the third inning as the Tigers touched him for two runs and made him throw 27 pitches.
But the Texas offense was hitting from the first inning, scoring one in the first, three in the second and two more after Grimm allowed the two runs in the top of the third inning.
Once the Rangers were able to answer the Tigers in the top of the third, Grimm settled down. It helped that he got a little motivation from manager Ron Washington before he came out for the fourth inning.
“Wash got me in the dugout and told me to ‘Hey, trust your stuff,’” Grimm said. “He actually tapped me in the face and got me off guard. It was the first time for me. Just hearing that from him, a little confidence from him to get rolling with it.”
The love tap from Washington seemed to work. Grimm retired the side in order in the fourth inning and allowed just a fifth inning single and a sixth-inning double before exiting after throwing 105 pitches after retiring the first two batters in the seventh.
Grimm struck out two and walked two in notching his first win since April 26.
“It’s been one pitch or he’s been getting in situations where he needed to get one out,” Washington said of Grimm’s previous struggles. “Tonight early in the game he was getting behind hitters. Once he went back out there in the fourth inning he started attacking the zone, started using his stuff down in the zone, started using all his pitches. He did an outstanding job.”
It helped the offense was clicking again, rapping out 13 hits and chasing Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez in the third inning. Elvis Andrus had his first career five-hit game and scored three runs and seven Rangers had at least one hit.
While Andrus was the offensive star, he points to Grimm as the key to the Rangers beating the Tigers.
“Justin Grimm deserves a lot of credit today for the job he’s doing,” Andrus said. “He fought. He showed how much heart he had. He went out there and he battled.”