Michigan roundup: Storybook start continues for Tigers' rookie Baddoo with game-winning hit

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Detroit Tigers’ rookie outfielder Akil Baddoo added another chapter to his storybook start in Major League Baseball.

Picked up by the Tigers in the Rule 5 Draft from the Minnesota Twins’ organization, the 22-year-old Baddoo produced the game-winning single against his former team on Tuesday to lift the Tigers to a 4-3 win in 10 innings at Comerica Park.

“An unbelievable ending for him and a great start to his season,” Tigers’ manager A.J. Hinch said of Baddoo, who was a second-round draft pick by the Twins in 2016. “We’re pretty proud of him.”

Baddoo became the first player in Tigers’ history to homer in his first two games. He came to the plate on Tuesday with two men on and two men out and ripped a single to right field off former closer Hansel Robles (0-1) to give Detroit the victory.

“I was able to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it,” said Baddoo, who became the youngest Tiger to record a walk off hit since Travis Fryman in 1991. “That feeling right there is the best feeling. We won, so I want that feeling every time. I’ll take a single over a home run so we can win every day.”

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Despite letting a 3-1 lead slip away late in the game, Tuesday’s effort was a vast improvement for the Tigers after a 15-6 loss to the Twins on Monday.

“(Baddoo) gets the final punch, but there were a lot of good blows we delivered (Tuesday),” Hinch said.

Left-hander Gregory Soto (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings and got out of jam in the 10th inning thanks to Jeimer Candelario throwing out Jorge Polanco after he started extra innings at second base under the new Major League Baseball rules for extra innings. Polanco was also thrown out at home plate by Jonathan Schoop earlier in the game.

Niko Goodrum had three hits for Detroit. Robbie Grossman had two hits and drove in two runs and Candelario also had two hits and drove in a run.

“We all played well,” Baddoo said. “We didn’t stop fighting and everyone’s prepared for their moment.”

Red Wing returns

Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill was once again without veterans Bobby Ryan, Sam Gagner and goalie Jonathan Bernier for Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators.

Ryan (upper body) and Gagner (lower body) have missed five games while Bernier has missed 10 games.

“All three are out (Tuesday, but) very, very close,” Blashill said before the game. “I’m hopeful for Thursday on all three of them.”

Forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who has been sidelined since Jan. 30 with an upper body injury, has returned to skating, but Blashill gave no indication as to when he might return to the lineup.

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“He was out there doing stuff before (Tuesday’s pre-game skate) and then once we got going into our stuff, he was off,” Blashill said. “The fact he’s been (skating) on a fairly consistent basis, he’s been making progress, so that’s a positive sign. Again, from timeline perspective, I just can’t give you one. Certainly, it’s moving in the right direction.”

Lions add Dunbar

The Detroit Tigers officially announced the signing of free-agent cornerback Quinton Dunbar on Tuesday. He reportedly inked a one-year deal.

The 6-foot-2, 2020-pound Dunbar spent the first five seasons of his career with Washington before being dealt to Seattle for a fifth-round pick.

The 28-year-old Dunbar played in just six games for Seattle in 2020 before his season was ended by a knee injury after 30 tackles, five pass defences and an interception.

Dunbar is the second veteran cornerback signed by the Lions, who added Corn Elder last week. The duo will help fill the void left when Detroit released Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman.

jpparker@postmedia.com

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