When rookie slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. came to the plate with the bases loaded, there was an air of anticipation at Comerica Park.
Toronto and Detroit are a combined 60 games under .500, but this was still a moment to remember.
Guerrero hit his first career grand slam, a 441-foot drive toward the bushes that helped the Blue Jays rally for a 7-5 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night. The home run erased a 5-1 deficit in the fifth, and Brandon Drury added a two-run shot an inning later to put Toronto ahead.
“It was a good pitch to hit,” Guerrero said through a translator. “He gave me my pitch, and I hit it pretty good.”
WATCH | Vlad Jr. launch his 1st career grand slam:
Niko Goodrum and John Hicks went deep for the Tigers, who are 7-33 since the start of June. Goodrum’s two-run homer in the second gave Detroit a 3-1 lead, but a 59-minute rain delay in the fourth knocked out both starting pitchers.
Wilmer Font (2-0) came on in the bottom of the fourth and gave up a two-run homer to Hicks that put the Tigers up by four, but Gregory Soto (0-4) quickly gave away the advantage. Toronto loaded the bases in the fifth, then Guerrero hit his home run a bit to the left of straightaway centre.
“That’s a strong young man,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I think Soto was trying to get that on the outer corner but he left it over the middle and you saw where that young fellow hit it. I think they’ve got a good one there, but I don’t think they need me to tell them.”
It was the ninth major league homer for Guerrero, who had three hits in a win Friday and two more on Saturday.
“That’s the Vladdy that we know,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “That’s what he can do, and that’s what we’re waiting for, everybody was waiting for. He’s looking good at the plate now.”
Guerrero came into the year as one of the game’s top prospects, but his debut season has been uneven. He’s hitting .249 with an OPS of .729.
“He’s 20 years old, and he’s going to have his ups and downs, but he’s always going to find a way to smile,” Montoyo said. “That’s just who he is.”
Guerrero said he already had the ball from his grand slam, and indicated he would give it to his Hall of Fame father.
Drury’s homer gave the Blue Jays the lead, and the Tigers didn’t score again off the Toronto bullpen. Ken Giles struck out three in the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.
Detroit has lost 27 of its last 30 home games that were played to completion. There was a suspended game May 19 — and the Tigers were losing that one, too.