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Akil Baddoo makes hot bat count this time in 10th inning of Detroit Tigers’ 4-3 win over Minnesota

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT — Akil Baddoo homered in each of his first two big league games — but his team lost both.

So the Detroit outfielder took matters into his own hands with another memorable swing.

Baddoo added another big hit in this charmed start to his career, lining an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday.

“That feeling right there is the best feeling. We won, so I want that feeling every time,” Baddoo said. “I’ll hit a single over a home run, so we can win, every day.”

Baddoo made his debut Sunday against Cleveland and homered on the first pitch thrown to him. Then he hit a grand slam in a 15-6 loss to the Twins on Monday. The rookie entered Tuesday’s game as a pinch-runner, stayed in to play the outfield and ended it with a hit to right off Hansel Robles (0-1).

The 22-year-old Baddoo was taken by the Tigers from the Twins last December in the Rule 5 draft of players left off 40-man rosters. Picked 74th in the draft by Minnesota in 2016, Baddoo had never played above Class A until this year, and was a career .249 hitter in four minor league seasons — there were no games in the minors last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“He’s impressive,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s been fun to watch — more fun if we weren’t playing him.”

Nelson Cruz and Byron Buxton homered for the Twins, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

Gregory Soto (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for Detroit, and the Tigers scored in their half of the 10th.

Harold Castro began the frame on second base as the automatic runner and advanced to third on Jeimer Candelario’s groundout. Robles struck out Wilson Ramos and intentionally walked Robbie Grossman before Baddoo came up.

After Baddoo’s hit, the Tigers spilled onto the field to celebrate, and by the time he appeared for his postgame video call with reporters, he’d been through a lot.

“I am literally covered in shaving cream, soda, water, powder,” Baddoo said. “I’m still trying to regroup right now.”

The Twins had runners on first and third with nobody out in the 10th, but Soto struck out Max Kepler, and Buxton followed with a grounder to third. Candelario threw home in time to get Jorge Polanco — the second time he was thrown out at the plate on the day.

Soto then struck out pinch-hitter Andrelton Simmons.

Casey Mize allowed a run and four hits in four innings for the Tigers, and Minnesota starter J.A. Happ allowed a run and three hits in four innings.