DETROIT (AP) — In the opener of the first seven-inning doubleheader in Major League Baseball history, Shogo Akiyama hit an RBI single in the seventh that sent the Cincinnati Reds over the Detroit Tigers 4-3 Sunday.
It was strange from the start — the scoreboard at Comerica Park listed nine innings instead of the usual seven.
There was no seventh-inning stretch — or even fifth-inning break — in a game that took 2 hours, 26 minutes. The start of the game was delayed more than two hours because of rain.
MLB recently decided to use doubleheaders of seven-inning games, which have been commonplace in the minor leagues and colleges, to help teams alleviate an expected crush of twinbills in the shortened, 60-day season caused by weather and virus-related postponements. The Reds-Tigers game was rained out Saturday.
Former Tigers player Nick Castellanos homered twice and drove in three runs for Cincinnati. But his three-base error in right field with the bases loaded in the sixth inning allowed Detroit to tie the game.
With the game tied and the new doubleheader rules in place, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire brought in closer Joe Jimenez (0-1) to start the seventh.
Freddy Galvis led off with a double, took third on Tucker Barnhart’s single and scored on Akiyama’s bouncer through the drawn-in infield.
Tigers reliever Tyler Alexander struck out the first nine batters he faced, tying the American League record for consecutive strikeouts. His streak ended in the top of the sixth, one short of Tom Seaver’s major league record, when he hit Mike Moustakas with a 1-2 pitch. Moustakas left the game with an apparent hand injury.
Raisel Iglesias (1-1) got the final out of the sixth before pitching a scoreless seventh. The second out came when JaCoby Jones’ grounder bounced off first baseman Josh VanMeter’s glove, with second baseman Kyle Farmer grabbing the ricochet barehanded and throwing to Iglesias, who made a lunging catch for the 3-4-1 out.
Reds starter Anthony Desclafani allowed three hits in five shutout innings, but even in a shortened game, the Reds bullpen couldn’t hold a 3-0 lead.
Lucas Sims started the sixth and the Tigers loaded the bases with two out on a single, a walk, and a hit batter. Victor Reyes lifted a fly ball to right-center. Castellanos called off center fielder Nick Senzel, but the ball bounced off the tip of his glove for a game-tying three-base error.
The Reds took a quick 2-0 lead. Rony Garcia walked Akiyama to start the game, and Castellanos homerd into the Cincinnati bullpen beyond the left-field wall.
Castellanos homered again in the third inning. It was his second two-homer game at Comerica Park, the other coming on Aug. 22, 2017. Castellanos played the first 837 of his 896 major-league games with the Tigers before being traded to the Chicago Cubs last season.
Reds: Cincinnati activated DeSclafani (shoulder) from the 10-day injured list before the game and placed 1B Joey Votto on the short-term injured list.