McCann's inside job helps Tigers pound Twins

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
The Tigers’ James McCann, left, is congratulated by Nick Castellanos after his inside-the-park home run Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis — Ian Kinsler thinks he might have witnessed history Wednesday.

James McCann hit his first major-league home run, part of a four-run sixth-inning that helped ignite a 10-7 come-from-behind win against the Twins — and it was an inside-the-park job.

"That's got to be a first in major-league history," Kinsler said. "A catcher, his first major-league home run is an inside-the-parker? It was ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it."

The Tigers were checking to verify the historical relevance of the play; McCann was only concerned about its relevance to this game.

"It was pretty cool," said McCann, who also contributed a double and single. "Getting hugs from guys like Miguel Cabrera, David Price and (Justin) Verlander. Verlander called it — not an inside-the-parker but he called a home run from me there.

"But Miggy, after he hit one out to center said to me, 'That's how you him them. You get to trot. You don't have to run hard.'"

Cabrera blasted 850 feet of home runs — a towering 432-foot shot to the second deck in left-center, and a 418-foot shot to the berm in dead center. He also rapped a double off the wall in right field and had four RBIs on the day.

But he seemed more excited about McCann's homer.

"It was more exciting because we knew it was the first for him," Cabrera said. "We knew it tied the game and that we were back in the game."

The Tigers knocked out 17 hits, hit four home runs and five doubles. All of that after making 24 straight outs between the fourth inning Tuesday and the third inning Wednesday. They were down 7-3 going into the sixth inning.

"We stay focused and we stay positive and we try to make something happen," Cabrera said. "We never give up in the game. We know if we get a little going on, we're going to score runs. We don't worry if we go three, four, five scoreless innings. We know we can come back and score runs."

Twins starter Phil Hughes left in the fifth inning with a mild hip flexor strain and the Tigers went on the attack. Cabrera and J.D. Martinez homered in the sixth inning, setting table for McCann.

With Nick Castellanos on first, McCann drove a ball off the wall in center field. It caromed past center fielder Jordan Schafer and rolled along the warning track.

"I saw it hit off the wall and kick," McCann said. "I didn't see how far it went. The first thing I thought was triple, I got another triple. I was half-way to third and I saw Clarkie (third-base coach Dave Clark) still bringing me. I knew I had a shot."

McCann motored all the way home without a play. It was the first inside-the-parker for the Tigers since Austin Jackson on Aug. 12, 2012.

"A week ago when I got that triple, the guys joked with me, asking if I ever would have thought I'd have a triple this early in my career," McCann said. "Now I've got an inside-the-parker. That's even more nuts."

The last Tiger to hit record an inside-the-park homer as his first in the big leagues was Frank Lary in 1956.

"I've never run that far in a baseball game in my life," McCann said.

The winning run wasn't driven in by a home run, nor was it driven in by one of the Tigers' middle-of-the-order thumpers. Shortstop Andrew Romine, making his first start since April 11, singled home Yoenis Cespedes, who reached when his sky-high popup fell almost on the pitcher's mound, in the eighth to break the 7-7 tie.

"When we score a lot of runs in a game is generally when the bottom and top of our order is getting on base for the heart of our order," manager Brad Ausmus said. "That's generally when we put big numbers on the scoreboard."

Romine had four hits on the day — the first four-hit day of his career — and is batting .667 in limited duty. Cabrera's blast to center gave the Tigers a three-run cushion in the ninth.

"That's the great thing about this team — there is so much power up and down the lineup," McCann said. "The beauty of it is we are never out of a game. A lot of teams down 7-3, they'd roll over. This team ends up putting up run after run after run."

All those runs bailed out starter Shane Greene, who was roughed up for the second straight start. He gave up seven runs, three in the third and four in the fourth.

The Tigers bullpen shut the door after that. Blaine Hardy (1.1 innings), Angel Nesbitt (one inning) and Tom Gorzelanny (1.1) kept the Twins off the board through the eighth. Joakim Soria gave up a couple of singles in the ninth, but struck out Trevor Plouffe for his ninth save.

The nine saves are the most by a Tigers pitcher in April.

After taking two of three against the Twins, the Tigers are off to Kansas City for a four-game series.