The day before Akil Baddoo took over the Motor City, the Tigers' rookie was on deck to pinch-hit for Miguel Cabrera on Saturday in what would’ve been his big league debut had the inning continued. Manager A.J. Hinch, anticipating a nervous wreck, asked Baddoo how his heartbeat was doing.
“He just looked at me like I was crazy, like, ‘It’s fine. I’m about to go play baseball,’” Hinch recalled.
It’s the same game he’s been playing since childhood, Baddoo’s mother keeps telling him. None of them could have imagined how he would be feeling three days, two home runs and a walk-off single later.
“I can’t really tell you,” Baddoo said when asked to describe it. “I’m just happy that all this hard work is paying off.”
After homering on his first pitch and hitting a grand slam the previous two days, Baddoo got his first game-winning hit and walk-off celebration on Tuesday. His 10th-inning single won the game, 4-3, and beat his old organization.
“That feeling right there is the best feeling: We won,” the former Twins prospect said. “I want that feeling every time. I’ll hit a single over a home run so we can win. Every day.”
Baddoo was already the first player in Tigers history with home runs in his first two Major League games, and the first Major Leaguer since Willson Contreras to homer on his first big league pitch. Tuesday’s heroics made him the first Tiger with a walk-off hit within his first three Major League games since Gabe Alvarez singled off Cubs reliever Dave Stevens on June 24, 1998. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Baddoo is the first MLB player since at least 1900 with two homers, including a grand slam, and a walk-off hit in his first three games.