Boston — It was bound to turn around, a 2016 season that for Jose Iglesias hit him like a spring allergy.
As late as Memorial Day, Iglesias was plodding along with an OPS in the mid-.500 range and a bat that looked as if it needed a good set of jumper cables.
But he has been so much better of late, beginning with a .333 batting average and .893 OPS in June. Monday night, in a 4-2 thumping of the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Iglesias blasted a two-run homer tracked at 424 feet as it sailed past the Green Monster and crashed onto Landsdowne Street.
He added a single that turned into the Tigers’ fourth run in a game Tigers manager Brad Ausmus conceded his team needed as badly as any has been sought in 2016.
Iglesias is batting .258 but has four home runs, which, some theorize, might be the start of more extra-base knocks for a 26-year-old hitter with Iglesias’ bat speed.
“He does have great bat-speed,” Ausmus said, explaining that Iglesias’ hand-eye skills can cut both ways, enabling him to make contact continually, sometimes on pitches out of the strike zone.
“He doesn’t strike out,” Ausmus said, “but he also doesn’t always put hard contact on (pitches).”
The last thing the Tigers want is Iglesias to become absorbed with extra-base pokes. They’ll settle for singles and the occasional double or ball hammered into the seats, believing that’s the natural progression for a defensive sentry who’s only playing his second full season of big-league baseball.
Justin Wilson had a heavy 28-pitch, two-out eighth inning that helped the Red Sox to a run. But relievers otherwise gave the Tigers an enormous boost after Justin Verlander exited following the sixth.
Shane Greene pitched a scoreless seventh, despite a single and a walk. And once Wilson was excused in the eighth, Francisco Rodriguez arrived for a four-out save (No. 28 in 2016) that dropped his ERA to 2.70.
Verlander got the victory as his torrid July continued. His numbers for the month: 3-0 record, 1.60 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and .175 opposing batting average.