Detroit Tigers prospect Parker Meadows hits 5th home run in 4-1 win over Toronto Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-1, on Saturday at TD Ballpark.

The Tigers are 13-16 in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

Facing right-hander Sem Robberse, the Tigers scored four runs on two hits in the third inning. The first two batters, Ryan Kreidler and Zack Short, reached base safely on a throwing error and hit-by-pitch, respectively.

Catcher Jake Rogers, who has impressed both at and behind the plate, cranked a fastball down the middle of the strike zone and produced a double with a 107.4 mph exit velocity. Kreidler scored for a 1-0 lead.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Sem Robberse (77) throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Sem Robberse (77) throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

Parker Meadows caught an 85.9 mph cutter at the bottom of the zone and punished the ball to right-center field for a three-run home run, increasing the margin to 4-0.

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The Tigers already optioned Meadows to Triple-A Toledo, meaning he won't make the Opening Day roster, but the 22-year-old has five home runs in spring training. He also has a .317 batting average in 21 games.

This spring, Meadows and Nick Maton are tied for the team lead in homers.

Starting off

Left-hander Tyler Alexander hadn't put together back-to-back successful outings until throwing three scoreless innings against the Blue Jays. The strong effort built on his 1⅓ scoreless innings earlier in the week against the New York Yankees.

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This time, he didn't allow a base runner.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander (70) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander (70) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

Alexander retired George Springer, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on six pitches in the first inning. All three grounded out. He struck out Whit Merrifield with an up-and-away cutter for the third out in the second inning.

He threw 20 of 34 pitches for strikes in his three innings.

Alexander, who relied on soft contact rather than strikeouts, tossed nine changeups, eight cutters, eight four-seam fastballs, five sinkers and four sliders. His fastball averaged 88.6 mph.

At the plate

The Tigers had a chance to add runs in the sixth, thanks to a one-out walk from Colt Keith and a two-out single from Kreidler. But Short struck out swinging on three consecutive up-and-in pitches.

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Another chance to score came in the seventh inning, Andrew Knapp and Matt Vierling notched singles, but with one out, Riley Greene grounded into a forceout and Jonathan Schoop struck out looking on a pitch below the strike zone.

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) forces out Detroit Tigers outfielder Matt Vierling (8) and throws the ball to first base for a double play during the first inning at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (11) forces out Detroit Tigers outfielder Matt Vierling (8) and throws the ball to first base for a double play during the first inning at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

Vierling finished 2-for-4 with two singles.

The 26-year-old, acquired by the Tigers from the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason, is hitting .321 with two home runs, one walk and three strikeouts across 32 plate appearances over 10 games.

Kreidler went 1-for-3 with one walk and one strikeout. He struck out on three straight pitches — all inside the strike zone — in the eighth inning against right-handed reliever Luke Bard.

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His swing decisions were exceptional.

On the mound

Right-handers Jason Foley and Jose Cisnero relieved Alexander and tossed scoreless fourth and fifth innings, respectively, though both relievers allowed one walk and one hit before escaping trouble.

Foley struck out Daulton Varsho (swinging strike, 90.4 mph changeup) and Matt Chapman (called strike, 87.5 mph slider). Cisnero, meanwhile, included back-to-back ground balls against Danny Jansen, who grounded into a double play, and Santiago Espinal.

Left-hander Jace Fry walked three batters in the sixth inning but didn't allow a run. Fellow left-hander Miguel Del Pozo, recently reassigned to minor-league camp, pitched a retired the side in the seventh.

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The Blue Jays scored for the first time in the eighth inning.

Right-hander Yaya Chentouf, elevated from minors camp, quickly generated two outs before a single and three walks. Righty Dario Gardea, also from minors camp, pitched the ninth and surrendered three walks before being lifted with two outs. RJ Petit issued another walk before finally getting the game-ending groundout.

Three stars

1. Meadows; 2. Alexander; 3. Vierling.

Next up

Sunday (1:05 p.m.) vs. Tampa Bay Rays in Lakeland.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Parker Meadows homers again as Detroit Tigers blast Blue Jays, 4-1