Entering Saturday’s contest against the Royals, the Tigers ranked last in the majors with just two home runs over their last eight games. Exiting that game, well, they bumped up their total to just three, but that third homer was a doozy: a go-ahead grand slam from rookie left fielder Christin Stewart.
Stewart’s moment arrived in the seventh inning. Still up 4-2, the Royals had already started to let the game get away from them. Nicholas Castellanos singled in a run, Miguel Cabrera hit a liner out to left, and Kansas City’s Wily Peralta finished setting the table with a seven-pitch walk to Jeimer Candelario. Stewart saw four pitches from Peralta before finding a changeup he liked, which was promptly returned to the right field foul pole for his first-ever grand slam:
Per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, it’s been almost ten years since the Tigers have seen a rookie belt a go-ahead grand slam. The last to do it was outfielder Clete Thomas, whose eighth-inning home run put the Tigers up 9-5 over the Angels on June 7, 2009. (It’s been just nine years since a Tigers’ rookie hit any variety of grand slam, which was accomplished by right fielder Brennan Boesch in the summer of 2010.)
Thanks to Stewart’s grand slam, the Tigers extended their winning streak to four straight games with a 7-4 finale against the Royals. They’ll go for the sweep on Sunday with right-hander Tyson Ross on the mound at 1:10 PM EDT.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.