Tigers pound Marlins, hope for better road results
Detroit — No Cleveland Indians, no problem.
The Tigers wrapped up their final home stand of the first half with a 10-3 pummeling of the Miami Marlins on a glorious Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Detroit finished the home stand 6-3, with sweeps of the Seattle Marlins and Marlins sandwiching an ugly beating at the hands of the first-place Indians.
For the first half of 2016, Detroit finished 23-16 at home, and was even much more impressive lately.
"You know, we hit a rough patch, obviously," Justin Upton said of the Indians' debacle. "But we turned it around really fast and we finished strong."
Problem is, now, the Tigers don't play at home again until July 15.
The Tigers close the first half with an 11-game, three-city road trip that takes them through Tampa Bay, Cleveland (9-0 against Detroit this season) and Toronto before heading off in different directions for the four-day All-Star break.
Detroit is only 17-22 on the road.
"We're in third place," Miguel Cabrera said. "It doesn't matter.
"We've got a long way to go.
"We've gotta show we can stay focused and we can win on the road, too."
Behind a 15-hit assault Wednesday, the Tigers moved two games over .500. They have the Marlins partly to thank for their standing, as Detroit swept the season series, four games to none.
Cabrera hit another mammoth home run, this one some 459 feet, according to MLB StatCast, off the brick wall between Hank Greenberg's retired No. 5 and Charlie Gehringer's No. 2, and he finished with three hits and three RBIs. The home run was his 18th of the season, matching his total from all of last season, in 41 fewer ballgames.
Steven Moya, in his first game back from right-knee soreness, also homered, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia made it back-to-back in the fifth inning. It was his eighth and first since May 12.
Speaking of the fifth inning, that makes nine home runs in the last three fifth innings at Comerica Park — four by the Indians on Sunday, and five by the Tigers against the Marlins, with three Tuesday and two Wednesday.
"Donny's a good friend," manager Brad Ausmus said of his Marlins counterpart, Don Mattingly. "But I don't feel that bad for him."
The Tigers jumped all over Marlins starter Tom Koehler (6-7) when the first six batters of the game reached. Victor Martinez had a two-run single, Justin Upton an RBI single and Saltalamacchia a long sacrifice fly, the only out he made all day.
Saltalamacchia finished a triple shy of the cycle.
After Daniel Norris (1-0) gave two runs back to the Marlins, the Tigers made it 5-2 in the second, after Ian Kinsler led off with a single, then impressively tagged up and scooted all the way to third on a pop out to first base. He then quickly scored on Cabrera's RBI single.
"That's just a baseball play," said Norris, who counts Kinsler among his favorite players to watch growing up. "And you expect that from guys like Kinsler.
The only out Cabrera made all day was a line shot in the sixth inning, when Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria made an outstanding leaping play.
Norris, in his second start back with the Tigers, needed 57 pitches to get through two innings — with Hechavarria's RBI triple and Ichiro Suzuki's RBI single providing the second-inning damage (Ichiro leaves Detroit 12 hits shy of 3,000 for his major-league career) — and 76 to get through three, but battled and got through five. He had a career-high eight strikeouts, including five looking.
Ausmus said his first start was more crisp, but Norris was more pleased with this one, given he got aggressive after the rough start and started challenging opposing hitters.
At 100 pitches, though, Norris was done after only five innings, and the Tigers needed to use three more relievers, Alex Wilson, Kyle Ryan and Anibal Sanchez.
Ryan and Sanchez were most impressive, with Ryan getting two lefties to strike out swinging — lefties have been an issue for him this season, but not as much since his latest call up — and Sanchez needed all of five pitches to get through the ninth inning to finish this one off.
"We gotta win ballgames, that's the name of the game," said Upton, who had an RBI single in the Tigers' first-inning outburst, when nine men batted.
"Whether it's at home or on the road."