Christin Stewart, a September call-up, is getting a chance to play regularly as the Detroit Tigers’ season winds down.
The rookie left fielder has started six consecutive games and enjoyed the best day in his brief career on Sunday, collecting three hits and the first RBI of his career in a 6-4 win over Cleveland.
Stewart will likely start throughout the team’s three-game home series against Minnesota, which begins Monday night.
Stewart’s three-hit day raised his average to .280. The Tigers hope the 24-year-old left-handed hitter can seize a full-time role next season.
“I think he gets it. He understands he’s going to have some ups and downs,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You always do in baseball and I think he understands it. He’s got a lot of people talking to him, (telling him) stay after it. He’s a pretty down-to-earth kid, got a good head on his shoulders and I think he’ll be fine.”
The Tigers did just fine after getting blown out 15-0 the previous afternoon by the Indians, who clinched the American League Central title in the process.
“They came back out like they have all summer long, just ready to play,” Gardenhire said. “The same ol’ B.S. that goes on in the dugout was there. They weren’t down or anything like that. They came to play. Fortunately, we got one (run) early … we needed that.”
Detroit’s scheduled Monday starter, Jordan Zimmermann, gave up three homers in five innings during his last outing on Tuesday, including two in the first two innings.
“Didn’t have very good command early,” Zimmermann said afterward. “As the game settled in, I started locating better, but they pretty much punched me in the mouth the first two innings.”
Zimmermann (7-7, 4.17 ERA) hasn’t pitched more than six innings in his last six outings while giving up 10 homers.
In eight career starts against Minnesota, Zimmermann is 4-3 with a 5.86 ERA. He won his only start against the Twins this season, giving up two unearned runs in 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 12.
He’ll be opposed by Kohl Stewart, who made his major league debut against Detroit that same day. He allowed three runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Stewart also faced the Tigers in his next outing and has an 0-1 record and 7.71 ERA against them.
Stewart’s last outing was a 3 1/3-inning relief stint against the New York Yankees on Tuesday. He gave up three runs and two hits and walked five but still picked up his first major-league victory.
“It’s kinda crazy that I felt worse than I have all year up here and ended up getting the win. Glad the team won,” Stewart told MLB.com after that 10-5 Twins victory. “Offense did a really good job, and then the bullpen kept us there. It was good.”
Minnesota salvaged the finale of a four-game series at Kansas City on Sunday, collecting a 9-6 victory.
The Twins have won seven of the first 13 meetings. Minnesota will host Detroit in another three-game series Sept. 25-27.
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