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Tigers improve to 4-0 with five runs in 10th inning to top Mets in opener

New York — Catcher Carson Kelly decided to pop the tension balloon.

After three tense, one-run wins against the White Sox in Chicago over the weekend, the Tigers and Mets played scoreless baseball for nine innings Monday at Citi Field.

“I was thinking about it,” Kelly said. “We’re in a zero-zero game, we’re into the ninth, we’re into the tenth. I was like, ‘Oh man, why don’t we try something new for a change, guys. Let’s mix it up and have more than just a one-run lead.'”

Done, Kelly blasted a three-run home run to cap a five-run 10th inning and the Tigers beat the Mets 5-0 and are 4-0 to start a season for the first time since 2015.

“We just keep fighting,” Kelly said. “We’re never out of it. We play nine innings for a reason and we don’t score in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, we still have a chance. We just continue to fight. It’s a good motto to live by: You’re never out of it.”

The Tigers were no-hit for the first 5.2 innings by Mets lefty Sean Manaea. Andy Ibanez broke that up with a two-out single. Kelly, who had walked and advanced to second, was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Brandon Nimmo. It was an aggressive send by third base coach Joey Cora.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 5, Mets 0 (10)

“One of the things early in spring training, Joey said, ‘I’m sending you guys,'” Kelly said. “He means it. That’s something you love. You love having those aggressive plays. You can’t this game scared.”

Tigers starter Reese Olson, after a wobbly first inning, matched Manaea, allowing two hits in 5.2 innings.

“He had some command issues early and then he settled himself,” Kelly said. “He kept them off-balance, which is what Reese does really well. Every time he goes out I’m more impressed with how poised he is. Even if there’s base runners out there, he’s able to stay in control of himself and execute when he needs to.”

From there both bullpens were lights-out. Will Vest stranded a runner at second in the sixth. Alex Faedo, featuring an elite slider and changeup, struck out three in two scoreless innings and Jason Foley, pumping 100-mph sinkers and mixing sliders, changeups and one four-seam fastball to strike out Jeff McNeil, pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Tigers, meanwhile, were being stymied by Jorge Lopez, lefty Brooks Raley and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz.

“It feels like an exhausting win,” manager AJ Hinch said. “Because we had to work every inning to try to create something.”

The Mets, now 0-4 to start the season, contributed to their own demise in the 10th.

With the free runner at second (Spencer Torkelson) to start the 10th inning, Riley Greene advanced him to third with a grounder to first.

Mets’ right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin hit Mark Canha in the backside and Hinch sent rookie Colt Keith up to pinch-hit. He also brought Parker Meadows in to pinch-run for Canha.

More: Jake Rogers put on a pitch-framing clinic in Tigers’ win Sunday against the White Sox

Keith rolled a ground ball to the left of second baseman Joey Wendle. Wendle couldn’t make a play and Torkelson scored.

There was more meat on that bone for the Tigers. Gio Urshela singled off Tonkin’s glove to load the bases. Javier Báez, after fouling a 3-1 pitch off his knee and going down in considerable pain, lofted a sacrifice fly to center — 2-0.

“Javy wasn’t coming out of that at-bat, no matter what,” said Hinch, who had already used everybody on his bench. “Unless we sent Kenta (Maeda, pitcher) up there.”

Kelly then put it on ice with a long, three-run home run to left.

“I hit that pretty good,” Kelly said. “Balls weren’t traveling tonight, but I got that one. I saw the trajectory and I just flushed it. I knew it had a good chance…Anything to help the team win. To start 4-0 is huge. The pitching has been keeping us in ballgames and then we get those timely hits.

“We already scored two and in extra innings, you score two you feel like you’re in a pretty good spot. But, hey, let’s add a couple more.”

Shelby Miller, the fourth reliever used by the Tigers, closed it out in the 10th.

“It’s awesome to have a bullpen like we have,” Olson said. “It feels like if we have the lead we can’t lose with these guys coming in. On a night when I didn’t have my best stuff, to be able to keep us in the game and continue to make pitches and get outs, it’s big.”


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