HOUSTON, Texas -- The Detroit Tigers picked up 15 hits, including a go-ahead two-run homer off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia to take a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
While the Tigers (7-3) ended the game strong, the team did ont start that way. In the bottom of the first inning, George Springer hit a two-run shot off the left field foul pole against Justin Verlander.
Two batters later, Astros (4-8) first baseman Tyler White hit his fourth home run of the season to give the Astros an early 3-0 lead over the Tigers. White leads the team with four home runs and has tied the franchise record with most homers in the first 12 career games.
Verlander (1-1, 7.16 ERA) yielded just those three runs on seven hits and two walks across 6.0 innings pitched. The veteran right-hander struck out eight in the outing and was able to settle down and give up only singles for the final five innings of his start.
"It's obviously good to open up with the lead but it's not how you start," Springer said regarding the lack of scoring in the late stages against the Tigers. "We understand that we have to keep scoring some runs. He did a good job slowing us down."
The scoreboard lit up for the Tigers in the top of the second inning as Nick Castellanos continued his hot start to the season with a double scoring Victor Martinez. In the fifth inning, Jose Iglesias scored on an error by White to cut Detroit's deficit to two runs.
There was one out in the sixth inning when Saltalamacchia connected against Collin McHugh, launching a two-run homer with two strikes off the right field foul pole. Saltalamacchia, called Salty, made it a 4-3 lead for Detroit.
Saltalamacchia's home run was his third of the season. He joined the Tigers this offseason to back up James McCann. However, Saltalamacchia has taken on the starting role after McCann was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday with an ankle injury.
"I'm loving every chance I get," he said. "I'm in a great situation here with a great group of guys, great organization, couldn't ask for anything better. So I'm excited to be able to contribute."
Believe it or not, all three of the 30-year-old's home runs have been go-ahead homers.
"He's come up with some big hits," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We knew he had some power and he's shown it to us early and I'm hoping he continues to do something similar to what he's been doing while (McCann) is on the DL."
McHugh (1-2, 6.39 ERA) gave up four runs on 10 hits across 5.1 innings. The 28-year-old did not give up a walk while striking out seven batters. The home run by Saltalamacchia chased McHugh from the game with one out in the sixth inning.
Victor Martinez added an insurance run with an RBI double in the ninth inning off Josh Fields.
Francisco Rodriguez was called to pitch the ninth inning and was perfect. Prior to Rodriguez tossing, Mark Lowe threw a perfect eighth inning of baseball. The 34-year-old got his third save of the season and secured the 5-3 win for Detroit over Houston.
The Tigers will send Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 3.38 ERA) to the hill on Sunday against Mike Fiers (0-1, 6.65 ERA) and the Astros.