DETROIT (AP) — Jordan Luplow hit a two-run homer to cap a four-run seventh inning, and the Cleveland Indians overcame a home run by Akil Baddoo on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat to beat the Detroit Tigers 9-3 on Sunday.
Cleveland avoided a season-opening sweep in Detroit after falling behind 3-1 in the third inning. Yu Chang put the Indians up 4-3 with a two-run single off Daniel Norris (0-1) in the seventh, and Luplow added his home run one out later.
“There was some enthusiasm, and there was something to yell about. We hadn’t had a whole lot to yell about,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona, whose team lost the first two games of the season. “Guys were into it. It was fun.”
Franmil Reyes and Austin Hedges also homered for Cleveland.
Baddoo was taken by the Tigers with the third pick of the 2020 winter meeting draft of unprotected players. The 22-year-old, who had never played above Class A before, gave his bat a little flip after hitting an opposite-field drive to left in the third off Aaron Civale (1-0), then completed an excited tour of the bases to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.
“Got a good pitch to hit, and I was able to hit it in front of my family and everyone,” Baddoo said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but looking forward to tomorrow.”
Baddoo didn’t seem fazed by the pressure of appearing in a regular-season game for the first time.
“What a cool moment for him and his family,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “First pitch he sees in the big leagues, he goes oppo (0pposite field). Crowd really responded and did a nice job of welcoming him to Detroit.”
Baddoo gave the bat a little flip, and his excitement was obvious as he rounded the bases. He said after the game he didn’t remember what exactly was going through his mind.
“I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “I was just so happy that I was able to put a good swing on the ball and hit a home run.”
There was some speculation that his bat flip may have rubbed the Indians the wrong way. When Luplow homered later in the game, he pointed toward the outfield, but he said that was directed at some fans, not Baddoo.
“There were some guys chirping me with, like, Oakland Athletics gear,” Luplow said. “They were chirping me. I’m an Oakland fan. I grew up going to the games, but I was talking to them and they were chirping me, so I gave them a little point after.”
Tarik Skubal was solid on the mound for the Tigers before the bullpen let the lead get away. Nomar Mazara hit a two-run homer in the first for Detroit.
Civale gave up three runs and two hits in seven innings. He did not allow a hit other than the two home runs. Civale improved to 7-0 in his career when receiving at least three runs of support.
Skubal allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. Eddie Rosario drove in the first two Cleveland runs with an RBI single in the first and a run-scoring groundout in the sixth.
Skubal left with men on second and third in the sixth. Norris got Rosario to hit a grounder that made it 3-2, then he struck out Reyes for the third out.
But the Indians broke through against Norris the following inning and kept pouring it on against the Detroit bullpen. Reyes made it 8-3 with a two-run homer in the eighth, and Hedges added a solo shot in the ninth.
“It was nice to pick up Civale,” Luplow said. “We just wanted to get some runs for him so he could pitch his game.”
Miguel Cabrera had the day off for the Tigers. Hinch said he had some soreness coming off of Saturday’s game, but he wasn’t too concerned about it.
Logan Allen starts Cleveland’s home opener Monday against Kansas City’s Danny Duffy.
“We just thought the way he pitched this spring, he really deserved it,” Francona said about Allen’s start in the Indians’ home opener.
Allen posted a 0.64 ERA over 14 innings in spring training, recording three walks and 18 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .188 average.
Detroit begins a home series against Minnesota, sending Jose Urena to the mound against Matt Shoemaker.