Brilliant AJ Hinch decision keys Tigers' clutch win over Rangers

Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates
Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

In what seems to be a given for a lot of their games these days, the Detroit Tigers were behind in a close game going into late innings on Tuesday against the Rangers. Texas had nothing going through four innings, and the Tigers were ahead by just one run thanks to a Zach McKinstry RBI single.

Then Casey Mize, in his first start at Comerica since April 9, 2022, started to shake a little on the mound. After a single, Josh Smith advanced to second on a wild pitch, then Ezequiel Duran drove him home with no outs. Marcus Semien then came up and scored Duran on a single of his own to put the Rangers up 2-1.

The Tigers caught up in the sixth with an RBI double from Kerry Carpenter (who'd also tripled earlier in the day), then they went down in order in the seventh. In the eighth, manager AJ Hinch swapped a clearly hot Carpenter with pinch-hitter Matt Vierling, who's been hitting pretty well off the bench to start the season. He stepped up to the plate with two outs and Spencer Torkelson at first, then singled to spark life into the rally that won Detroit the game, 4-2.

Thanks to a game-changing decision from AJ Hinch, Matt Vierling played the hero in Tigers' 4-2 win over Rangers

Gio Urshela followed Vierling to drive in Zach McKinstry, who'd reached first base on a groundout and moved to third on Vierling's single. 3-2, Tigers. With Wenceel Pérez batting, Rangers reliever Jacob Latz threw a ball into the dirt that careened off the glove of catcher Andrew Knizner and toward the home dugout. By the time he'd recovered the ball, Vierling was already sliding into home, having already inched halfway between third and home. 4-2, Tigers.

The win marks Hinch's 801st career managerial win, two days after the Tigers celebrated No. 800, and his decision to pinch-hit Vierling goes to show why he's made it to that number. Vierling, an elite baserunner, saw his opportunity and literally ran with it to give Detroit some much-needed insurance (especially when you factor in a nearly-blown save by Jason Foley in the ninth).

Though these Tigers don't seem to be willing to give us any peace by putting up a ton of runs in early innings (or, sometimes, at all), at least they're able to make it count when things come down to the wire.

More Tigers news from MCB