Tigers marvel at Morales' prodigious day at plate

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Detroit — Nothing seemed to work. Whatever pitch the Tigers were tossing Kendrys Morales' way Sunday was landing somewhere distant.

Royals' Kendrys Morales triples in the sixth inning. Morales hit three home runs and a triple in the game.

Three home runs. A booming triple to right-center.

Fifteen total bases, a Royals record, one total base shy of the record 16 that Red Sox rookie Fred Lynn rolled up against the Tigers in a June 1975 game at Tiger Stadium.

It was a stunning display of high-explosives hitting for Morales, the Royals designated hitter, who was responsible for much of the damage in a 10-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park.

"Those pitches must have been looking like a beach ball to him," Tigers catcher James McCann said. "Pull-side home run. Oppo (opposite-field) home run. Pull-side home run. And the triple might have been the hardest-hit ball he had.

"I knew he was good. He had one of those days."

Morales had Kansas City's first three-homer day since Royals outfielder Danny Tartabull clubbed three in July 1991.

Ausmus agreed Morales' triple, a 400-foot-plus drive to right-center, "might have been the most impressive of all."

Morales had a walk, as well, in five at-bats Sunday. His first two homers came against Tigers starter Alfredo Simon. His triple was ripped against reliever Jose Valdez, while his eighth-inning home run was notched against another reliever, Jeff Ferrell.

Morales was in the on-deck circle as the Royals' ninth inning ended. The Tigers were not disappointed. A premier switch-hitter, in their view, had written enough history for one day.

No go — probably

Ausmus said it's "looking bleaker" Jose Iglesias will play again in 2015.

Iglesias fractured his right middle finger in a Sept. 3 game against the Royals when he was hit by a pitch during a bunt attempt.

The Tigers had originally thought Iglesias could recover in time to play in some of the team's closeout games. But the degree of fracture, and its location, have lengthened odds Iglesias will not play again this season.

Boyd buoyed

Back-to-back solid starts by Matt Boyd have made clearer why the Tigers wanted him in July's deadline deals, and why his bosses at Comerica Park believe Boyd could help, perhaps in a big way, as early as next season.

Boyd pitched six innings in Saturday's 6-5, 11-inning victory over the Royals. He was nicked for only three hits and two runs, while striking out six and walking one.

"He pitched well," Ausmus said. "I think he was throwing his off-speed stuff better. He seemed to be pitching (using more craftsmanship) more."

Boyd wasn't so sure it was his breaking pitches.

He instead believes his new weapon, a sinking two-seam fastball, was Saturday's answer.

"It's been a new pitch for me," said Boyd, who had been a committed four-seam fastball thrower until he began working intently this summer on adding the two-seamer.

"I wouldn't say it's a surprise, but I started with it a few weeks ago. I had pitched inside (four-seamers) almost exclusively to these guys (Royals) in my earlier starts. So when I started sinking the ball away, it was nice."

Boyd also throws a curveball and change-up. Ausmus particularly likes Boyd's delivery that, the Tigers manager says, makes a left-handed pitcher's higher-speed four-seamer "sneaky."

But it's the sinker that could make Boyd a more difficult match-up for hitters.

"Completely," he said. "I'll work with it during the offseason and, hopefully, it comes along.

McCann's mark

It was another nine-inning shift Sunday for McCann, who had a hit and is hitting .271.

McCann has worked 878⅔ innings behind the plate, the most by a Tigers rookie catcher since Frank House had 880 innings in 1954. @Lynn_Henning