Rookies have a milestone night in Detroit
Sizemore, Boesch hit first homers; Jackson goes 5-for-5
DETROIT -- Brandon Inge gives out his share of abuse to rookies, being the longest-tenured Tigers player, but he also gives out his share of congratulations. He has a tradition going where he'll give a bottle of champagne to a hitter after his first Major League home run. When Inge hit his first back in 2001, he had a bottle waiting in his locker from Lance Parrish, then a Tigers broadcaster.
On Friday night, Inge was shelling out doubly for the bubbly. Scott Sizemore and Brennan Boesch didn't have game balls waiting for them in their lockers Friday night, but they each had a bottle of Dom Perignon.
"It's well worth it," Inge said after the Tigers' 10-6 win over the Angels Friday. "They'll remember it."
A lot of people are going to remember this game.
Not since 2002 had two rookie teammates hit their first Major League home runs in the same inning of the same game, according to STATS. It was the first time a pair of Detroit rookies had accomplished the feat since 1901, when Pop Dillon and Kid Elberfeld -- otherwise known as The Tabasco Kid, according to his Baseball Reference page -- did the honors.
Sizemore and Boesch did it in the fourth inning, in the same rally off Angels starter Joel Pineiro, who shut out the Tigers for 7 1/3 innings last week in Anaheim. Gerald Laird hit his first home run of the season that inning, too. Austin Jackson had the third of his five hits on the night, making him the first Tigers rookie in five years with a five-hit game.
It was an onslaught that brought 11 Tigers to the plate, and it turned what was shaping up to be a learning experience for Rick Porcello into the Tigers' second double-digit scoring outburst in three days. The bats behind it turned Detroit's third straight win into a night for the rookies.
"Gosh," Boesch said, "it's nice to see guys that are your buddies on the team [have a good game], guys that you have a special bond with, especially Scott and Alex [Avila], Jackson too. Scott and Alex, I played with in the Minor Leagues. Being with them up here allows me to feel at home and feel like I can play my game and be successful with it."
Pineiro had regrouped from two first-inning runs to quiet the Tigers offense. He worked through the order so quickly that he entered the fourth inning having thrown just 38 pitches. That's his game, to work ahead on hitters and make them hit his pitch for quick outs, and it worked perfectly for him against the Tigers last week.
The flip side of that efficiency, though, is that an inning can fall apart just as quickly. Once Inge worked a leadoff walk out of him in the fourth, the Tigers didn't hesitate to attack him when he hit the strike zone.
Laird pounced on a 1-0 fastball and sent it 402 feet into the left-field seats, taking with it any frustrations over a slow start at the plate. After a first-pitch strike right over the middle of the plate, Sizemore didn't wait for him to do it again.
"He just kind of left it up in the zone, let it out over the plate a little bit," Sizemore said. "His ball moves so much, I think it faded back in. Just pulled the hands inside and got the barrel there."
His teammates gave him the silent treatment on his way into the dugout, then finally relented and showered him with congratulations. They didn't have much time before the rest of the lineup resumed the damage.
Jackson's one-out single to left started a string of five straight Tigers to reach base safely in a span of just seven pitches. Once Boesch stepped to the plate, the bases were loaded and Pineiro was reeling.
It's normally a situation where rookies might try to do too much, but Boesch said RBI situations are when he usually feels more comfortable, more confident. His numbers so far this season in Detroit and Triple-A Toledo seem to support him.
Considering how much time Boesch spent watching video of Pineiro earlier in the day, he was supremely confident. They had a team luncheon at the Detroit Economic Club, and Boesch came straight to the park from there.
"We got here from that luncheon super early," Boesch said. "All that was on [TV] was Pineiro throwing, so I just sat on the couch and watched him for like three hours out of boredom. I mean, I pretty much saw every single pitch he'd thrown all season. But he was throwing a lot of first-pitch curveballs that were pretty good pitches to hit. I kind of had it in the back of my mind."
He got a fastball instead, and he drilled it. The ball went out in one of the deepest parts of the park, an estimated 417-foot line drive into the visiting bullpen in left-center field. Boesch raised his hand and kept running.
"Obviously, it's great to get the first one out of the way," Sizemore said. "I'm super pumped for Boesch over there. He's a great hitter and he's already been doing well here. It was just a matter of time before he got one up and out of the yard."
With that, Sizemore and Boesch became the first teammates to hit their first big league home runs in the same inning since Cleveland's Victor Martinez and Earl Snyder did it off Kansas City's Darrell May on Sept. 29, 2002. Pineiro left with 10 runs allowed, nine earned, on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings.
Neither Sizemore nor Boesch left with their home run balls. But they left with a gift.
"Are you serious?" Boesch asked Inge half-jokingly, a little unsure if it was a prank.
It was real, just like the display the rookies put on at the plate.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.