Akil Baddoo aims to continue torrid run as Tigers host Twins

MLB

Akil Baddoo has gotten off to a mesmerizing start in his major-league career.

It’s intriguing to wonder what the Detroit Tigers rookie outfielder will do on Wednesday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series against the visiting Minnesota Twins.

Baddoo hit a home run on the first pitch of his initial major-league at-bat on Sunday and drilled a grand slam the following day in the series opener against the Twins.

After entering the contest in the late innings as a pinch-runner, Baddoo hit a game-winning single in the 10th inning of Detroit’s 4-3 victory on Tuesday.

“Just be ready for the moment,” Baddoo said in a postgame TV interview. “Don’t let the moment get too big. Stay relaxed and just have fun and enjoy it. That’s what I did.”

Baddoo, selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft, had never played above Class A ball entering this season.

He was a Rule 5 selection in the 2020 draft by Detroit, even though he hadn’t played in a game in nearly two years. He had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and the minor-league season was canceled last season.

“He’s been looking forward to these moments his entire life. He’s taking the opportunity and riding with it,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “One of the things we’ve talked about him since day one has been his maturity and calm demeanor.

“He doesn’t have a fast heart. There’s so much to like about him in those moments and clearly, early in his career, he’s stepping up pretty big for us.”

Tigers ace Matthew Boyd (1-0) will make his second start of the season on Wednesday. He pitched in wintry conditions during the Tigers’ 3-2 Opening Day victory over Cleveland and held the Indians scoreless for 5 2/3 innings. He allowed only three hits but walked four batters.

“It would have been nice to have those back,” Boyd said of the walks. “We’ll make adjustments and go forward.”

The temperature is expected to climb near 80 degrees for his second outing. He’ll look to close out the six-game homestand with another stingy performance.

“My role is to go out there and attack every single pitch,” Boyd said. “Could be two pitches, could be 120, anything in between.”

He’s made 21 career starts against Minnesota, posting an 8-7 record and 4.60 ERA.

Boyd will be opposed by Kenta Maeda, who gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits in 4 1/3 innings at Milwaukee in his first start on Thursday. Maeda also struck out five batters en route to a no-decision.

He’s 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz continues to terrorize Detroit pitchers. He’s got three homers in the series and 34 in his career against the Tigers, including the postseason.

Byron Buxton, who homered in the Twins’ first two games this season, drilled a game-tying homer on Tuesday. Buxton has never hit more than 16 homers in a season during his career, which began in 2015.

“He’s not going up there swinging aimlessly,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s going up there with a plan. He knows the pitches he’s looking to attack and do damage with and that’s exactly what he’s done.”

–Field Level Media

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