Detroit Tigers' lineup changes start to pay off vs. Twins

It wasn't always pretty over the weekend, but it was an improvement for Detroit.
Apr 14, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez (28) celebrates after
Apr 14, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez (28) celebrates after / Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

When manager AJ Hinch's lineup for the Detroit Tigers before the series opener against the Minnesota Twins, it was easy to notice a couple of big changes.

Gone were Parker Meadows and Matt Vierling from the top of the lineup. Instead, Riley Greene was slotted in the leadoff role. Mark Canha, too, moved up, from his normal No. 5 spot to No. 2. Colt Keith replaced him in that five-hole.

The changed appeared to show some immediate benefit with an eight-run offensive outburst against the Twins on Friday night, the most runs Detroit has scored in a game this season. Then there were a few hiccups on Saturday.

Tigers rally back to beat Twins in series finale Sunday

Sunday in the eighth inning of the series final, we saw it finally all come together. Detroit had looked hapless much of the game and trailed by three runs at the time. Jazy Baez homered to break the shutout, then the next four Tigers to come to the plate reached base safely to give Detroit a 4-3 lead.

Reliever Jason Foley held on in the ninth inning, and the Tigers came out of the weekend with a 2-2 split and trailing the first-place Guardians by just a game.

"We know how tough it's been recently and you try your best to block it all out and you need something positive to happen," Hinch said after the game. "We can preach patience and staying positive and all that, but you actually need hits to feel good as a major league hitter. When (Spencer Torkelson) got that, it just kind of lit up the dugout a little bit and let good things come ahead."

Torkelson is showing some signs of bursting out. He has seven hits and a team-leading 10 total bases over the past seven days. Five of those hits came during the most recent series. Strikeouts continue to be an issue, but he hit three doubles. His eighth-inning singled accounted for the go-ahead run Sunday.

Greene and Canha also did well at the top of the lineup. Greene had five hits, including two on Sunday. Canha added four more hits in the series, with his two-run double tying the game.

The lineup will continue to be a story throughout the season, but at least it's showing some signs of improvement recently.

The Tigers host the Rangers at 6:40 p.m. Monday at Comerica Park. Texas stumbled mightily on the mound over the weekend against the Astros, so it will be interesting to see if Detroit can find a way to score runs more consistently during the series.