Kinsler hopes homers send message: Don’t sell

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — There’s timely hitting, and then there’s what Ian Kinsler did Monday night.

He’s hoping he sent more than just his teammates one game up in the standings.

He’s hoping he sent a message to the front office, which has 10 days and 10 games before the 4 p.m. July 31 trade deadline to decide if this team merits buying or selling.

“I’d like to send any message I can, text message, email, whatever,” Kinsler said after the Tigers beat the Mariners, 5-4, on the strength of his two home runs — including the go-ahead, two-run shot in the eighth inning. “I think we’ve always had the pieces.

“Yes, we have weaknesses, yes we have strengths just like every team. But baseball’s crazy. Every year, you see something crazy happen in this game. You have to continue to compete. You have to continue to play hard. And hopefully the guys upstairs see something positive and try to shore up the weaknesses.”

On Monday, the Tigers clawed back to .500 — at 46-46. It was an exciting win, but it’s been an underwhelming season, especially for a team with a $170-million ledger

The Tigers say they have the talent to make a run, and the big names sure are there — though Miguel Cabrera’s missing for at least another month, and 2011 Justin Verlander’s probably missing forever.

And then there’s this: Detroit hasn’t won more than three games in a row since it started 6-0.

So how, then, do the Tigers convince owner Mike Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski that this 2015 team still is a good team to bet on, that it actually is capable of winning at least 40 of the 70 remaining games when it’s playing .443 baseball for the last three months?

Winning games like Monday’s is a start, but only a small one. Shaving off a significant portion of their 10-game division deficit and four-game wild-card deficit is another. They’ve got 10 days, and they sure know it.

“The Tigers organization has to make a decision, and they, obviously, for hte past however long, six, seven years, have had the best interests in mind,” said Kinsler, whose home runs were Nos. 4 and 5 on the season. “In their mind, that’s the best interest of the Tigers. Whatever they do, we’ve gotta roll with it and hopefully it’s something we can look at as a positive in here and get going.

“It’s crazy with the double wild card. It just adds so many more teams (in contention).”

The Tigers’ players job is a tough one, thanks to some subpar baseball dating to before the All-Star break — when they took the first of four games against the Twins, the team ahead in the standings, and then lost the next three, including one in absolutely devastating fashion. They then took the first game against the Orioles in the first series after the break, and promptly lost the next two, looking really bad doing it.

Now the Tigers have taken the first game against the Mariners, and they know they can’t do in the next two what they’ve done in wrapping up recent series.

There’s no more room for losses, not when Dombrowski has at his right hand two of the biggest potential trade chips in baseball in David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, with plenty of interested buyers.

“Yeah, absolutely,” said Kinsler, when asked if the players understand the pickle their extended run of mediocrity has put the front office in. “And that’s not our job. We can’t think too much of it. Once you start talking about that, it takes away energy from what we’re trying to do. Whispers start going around the clubhouse, then we’re not concentrating on the game.

“I think people understand the situation in here. But it’s important to let the general manager and the organization do their work, and hopefully it’s positive.”