Occasionally he comes through.
Friday night was one of those times. Inge homered in his first at-bat, helping the Detroit Tigers to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, who traded hard-throwing Scott Kazmir(notes) to the Angels after the game.
“There’s a kid named Noah that I’ve visited a couple times in the hospital, and he’s at home right now, and I spent a couple hours with him today,” Inge said. “He asked me the dreaded question—could I hit a home run for him in the game, and I told him I’d do the best I could.”
“When that ball went over the fence—that’s just an awesome feeling,” he said. “I see a lot of the kids at Mott Children’s Hospital, and they always ask for a homer, and it’s worked out twice now.”
For the Rays, the loss was overshadowed by the postgame news they had traded Kazmir, a two-time All-Star, to the Los Angeles Angels for two minor leaguers, left-hander Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named.
“This is a surprise—I had heard rumors before, but it’s hard to believe that it is now official,” Kazmir said. “It’s a disappointment because of all the relationships I’ve built in the organization and the city, but you can’t control the business side of the game.”
“That’s pretty impressive for a young kid,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland
The 20-year-old has allowed one or two earned runs in five of his six August starts.
“This has been a lot of fun, pitching while we are in a pennant race like this,” Porcello said. “I love pitching in Comerica Park—it’s a great pitcher’s park and the fans have been great.”
Four Detroit relievers combined to finish the six-hitter, which dropped the Rays 4 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.
“That’s still a tremendous team,” Leyland said. “They are as good as they were last year, but the Yankees did what the Yankees can do—they went out and got two top-notch pitchers in (CC) Sabathia and (A.J.) Burnett and one of the best players in the American League in Teixeira.”
Garza (7-9) took the loss, giving up six runs on five hits and three walks in five innings.
After Inge hit his 25th homer in the second, Detroit took control with five runs in the fourth. With one out, Aubrey Huff(notes) and Carlos Guillen(notes) walked before Inge’s single loaded the bases.
“The two walks are what cost me the game,” Garza said. “I walk those two guys, Inge singles, Laird hits a bloop and Everett rolls one down the line. That happens, but the walks are what really killed me.”
“I thought we hit the ball hard in a few key situations, but right at people,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Their kid did a great job, and we just had the one bad inning.”
Garza didn’t think the Kazmir trade, which had been rumored before the game, hurt the Rays.
“You can’t let something like that distract you, or what will happen when you have a sick kid,” he said after hugging Kazmir. “We’ll miss him, but you only think about it for a few minutes, and then you’ve got to play.”
NOTES: Rays INF-OF Ben Zobrist(notes) missed the game due to a death in the family, but was expected to be back for Saturday afternoon’s game. … Rain delayed the postgame fireworks for an hour, but several hundred fans stayed to see the show. … The Tigers and Rays played for the first time this season, the first of seven games between the teams in 10 days. … Detroit activated LHP pitcher Nate Robertson(notes) from the disabled list Friday, and he is expected to make his first start of the season Saturday against Tampa Bay. Robertson has been out since June 27 after having a mass removed from his left elbow.