Detroit – Say this for Tigers catcher James McCann: He doesn't hit standard home runs.
His first major league home run on April 29 in Minnesota was an inside-the-park shot. His second came Thursday afternoon – a walk-off blast in the bottom of the 11th inning off Astros left-hander Tony Sipp, giving the Tigers a 6-5 win after they had blown a 5-0 lead.
"This could be a big turning point for us," McCann said. "After giving up that lead, it would have been very easy to fold and say let's come back tomorrow. This team didn't. The bullpen did a great job of holding it for us and the offense finally broke through."
McCann had just missed badly on a 0-1 split-fingered pitch in the dirt. Sipp came back with another on 0-2 splitter, but left it where McCann could reach it. He knocked it into the Tigers' bullpen in left field, just out of the reach of left-fielder Colby Rasmus.
"I knew it had a chance, but I lost track of it when I put my head down," McCann said. "When I looked back up it was gone. I never saw it. I had to go by the way the crowd reacted – that's when I knew it was gone."
You wouldn't have thought it'd be that much of a struggle. Even after seeing the lead shrink to 5-4 entering the ninth, closer Joakim Soria seemed positioned for his 14th straight save. But pinch-hitter Preston Tucker – speaking of non-standard home runs – got his barrel on a Soria fastball for his first big-league home run to send the game to extra innings.
"He'd thrown one, located it well – away – that (Tucker) had swung through earlier in the at-bat," McCann said. "But that one just got too much of the plate and was elevated and he put a good swing on it.
"If you're going to get beat with a home run to tie the game, it better be the opposite side of the field. It was."
'I'll take the win'
Reliever Alex Wilson pitched scoreless baseball in the 10th and 11th to record his first win as a Tiger. And, as manager Brad Ausmus said after the game, Wilson would have pitched the 12th if needed, too.
"I mean, yeah, I'll take the win, instead of pitching another inning," Wilson said. "But I was ready to go. (Pitching coach Jeff) Jones came over and asked me if I was good. I said, 'Yeah, let's keep it rolling.'
"They were concerned because it was my fourth out of five days throwing, but I felt great, and I'll be ready to go tomorrow."
Still, with a 5-0 lead through six innings and the way David Price was cruising, you wouldn't have thought it would get to that point. But these aren't the 2013 Astros. These Astros came in at 27-14 and riding the best start in franchise history. They are the top team in the A.L. West.
Price allowed one hit through six. He struck out a season-high 12 hitters. He was commanding his fastball to all quadrants of the plate, as well as mixing in his off-speed pitches as well as he has all season.
And things still went poof real fast in the seventh.
"I felt good all the way through," said Price. "They put some good swings on balls that I am fine with."
An RBI-triple by Evan Gattis scored one, then back-to-back two-out singles by Jonathan Villar and Hank Conger made it 5-3 and chased Price.
"I made a good pitch to Gattis, a really good pitch to him," Price said. "I am fine with the pitch to George Springer (leadoff single) and Villar, he just hit a ground ball in a good spot. With Conger I was coming in for the first pitch. I hadn't shown him in on the first pitch all day and he made a good swing.
"This is honestly the best I have felt, regardless of the results – the strikeouts or that seventh inning. I know good things are going to come out of this."
Figuring out Feldman
Aside from Price's travails, the Tigers were happily making up for lost time against Astros right-hander Scott Feldman.
They hadn't faced him at Comerica Park since 2010, but they didn't make him feel any more comfortable than they did then. His ERA against the Tigers was 7.34 and they hit him at a .346 clip. But at Comerica, he had allowed seven runs, 10 hits and two homers in nine innings.
Yet, pitchers like Feldman – low-velocity curveball-cutter pitchers – have been problematic for the Tigers this season. Not this time. The Tigers got him for five runs and 10 hits in six innings.
It did take them until the fourth inning to figure him out, though. Nick Castellanos, who delivered the hero shot Wednesday night (three-run triple), hit a two-run homer that landed beyond the visitor's bullpen in left-center.
It was a 438-footer, the longest home run at Comerica this year, according to ESPN Stats and Research.
Miguel Cabrera had two hits off Feldman, notched his 1,400th RBI in a two-run fifth. Rajai Davis doubled in the fifth run in the sixth.