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Detroit — Home runs in four straight games? By a leadoff hitter?

When was the last time a Tigers hitter did that?

It was 1969. Dick McAuliffe, who died this week, did the trick. And Ian Kinsler matched it on Wednesday, hitting his fourth home run in as many games.

“It means I have four more homers in the stat column,” Kinsler said, with a shrug.

He and J.D. Martinez just missed out on baseball history, too. Martinez had homered in three straight games entering play Wednesday. Had Martinez matched Kinsler, they would have been the first pair of teammates in major league history to each hit homers in the same four consecutive games.

“Well, I ruined that by getting picked off in the eighth,” Kinsler said.

Martinez, who tripled to the deepest part of Comerica Park in the third inning, had his final at-bat of the game denied when Kinsler was picked off to end the inning.

Hitting home runs isn’t exactly foreign to Kinsler. He hit 30-plus twice with the Rangers. But last year, he hit only 11. He didn’t get his 10th until mid-September.

“I’ve always had the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark,” he said. “Right now, I’m working on the right things. Wally (Joyner) and David (Newhan) are doing a great job with me in the cage making sure I’m staying the course.”

Joyner and Newhan, the Tigers hitting coaches, have been on a two-year mission. With Kinsler typically hitting leadoff or, at times last year, second in the order, they’ve been working to help Kinsler transform himself into a better contact hitter.

The change also coincided with Kinsler losing weight, becoming more athletic and less brawny.

“The last couple of years I’ve worked on a bunch of things that I felt I needed to do to improve as a hitter, and to make better contact,” Kinsler said. “Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back in certain aspects of your game to become a better hitter.

“Then once you do that, you can start adding back the power aspect of it.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/cmccosky

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