Jordy Mercer hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 Monday to split a four-game series between the teams with the worst records in the major leagues.
After the first series in American League history between teams in 50 or more games under .500, Detroit (45-104) has a 3½ game “lead” over Baltimore (49-101) for the top pick in June’s amateur draft, which goes to the club with the lowest winning percentage this season.
Detroit needs to win one of its final six games at Comerica Park to avoid breaking the major league record of 59 home losses, set by the 1939 St. Louis Browns.
Tyler Alexander (1-3), a 24-year-old left-hander forced into the rotation by a doubleheader last week, got his first big league win. Before a crowd announced at 14,142, he allowed one run and four hits in six innings during his first major league start since Aug. 7.
Joe Jiménez retired the first two batters in the ninth before the Orioles loaded the bases on three singles. Trey Mancini, who hit his third homer of the series in the sixth inning, struck out on three pitches.
John Means (10-11) gave up five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Detroit led 2-0 after its first two batters. Victor Reyes tripled over center fielder Austin Hays’ and Mercer hit the next pitch into the Baltimore bullpen in left-center for his ninth homer. Víctor Reyes made it 4-0 with a two-out, two-run double in the fifth and Dawel Lugo hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Jonathan Villar led off the seventh with a triple off José Cisnero and scored on Hays’ single.
Orioles LF Stevie Wilkerson and RF Anthony Santander recorded an assist on the same play in the fifth inning. Reyes overran second on his two-run double, hoping to draw a throw that would ensure a second run scored. Wilkerson’s throw was on target, but Reyes stayed in the rundown long enough that Santander ended up coming in from right to take part in a 7-6-3-5-9-3-4 putout.
Orioles: DH Mark Trumbo was a late scratch from the Baltimore lineup because of a trapezius strain.
Tigers: DH Miguel Cabrera returned to the lineup after a flareup in his right knee forced him to leave Saturday’s game early and sit out on Sunday.
Orioles: Baltimore starts a three-game series Tuesday against visiting Toronto, which starts RHP Trent Thornton (5-9, 5.04).
Tigers: Detroit heads across Lake Erie for three games against the Indians, who are 15-1 against the Tigers this season. Detroit planned to start an opener on Tuesday against RHP Adam Plutko (6-4).
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