Jones delivers in debut, Tigers rally over Sox

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit  — Baseball-wise, JaCoby Jones was prepared for his big-league debut Tuesday night. Heck, he’s dreamt about it since he was a little kid.

But the huge ovation from crowd at Comerica Park, before he even stepped into the box for his first at-bat — that unnerved him a bit.

“I almost stepped out of the box,” Jones said. “But I was just like ‘Oh, I’ll just step in here, and get after it, I guess.’ I didn’t really know what to think, to be honest. I just heard a bunch of people screaming, and I was just like, ‘Oh. All right. Well. I guess … I’m just going to hit.’”

The kid knows how to make a first impression. Called up from Toledo before the game, as the Tigers searched for an offensive spark, Jones produced two hits and two RBIs, knocking in the go-ahead run.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 8, White Sox 4

His double was one of several clutch hits in a four-run sixth inning Tuesday that propelled the Tigers to an 8-4 win over the White Sox. He added an RBI single in the seventh, for good measure.

“Something I’ll never forget, my first big-league hit,” Jones said. “It’s just something you work hard for, to get here, and to get it on the first night, it’s simply amazing.

“I don’t have any other words to describe it, just amazing.”

It was the Tigers' second straight come-from-behind win in the series. This time they were down 3-0 and the pitcher who was blanking them was Anthony Ranaudo, whose ERA was just under 10.

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But the Tigers started to figure him out in the fifth. 

“I was hoping the third time through the order would be the thing that got us going,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Just seeing him. Now you've seen him twice, you know what it's doing out of his hand once you pick up the spin.”

A two-out, two-run home run by Ian Kinsler (24th) made it 3-2. Kinsler fouled off four straight off-speed pitches before barreling up an 80 mph pitch.

J.D. Martinez opened the sixth inning with a double, which ended the night for Ranaudo.

Right-hander Matt Albers was not nearly as much of a mystery to the Tigers.

Justin Upton singled to score Martinez and tie the game. Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked for the third time in the game, which set the table for Jones.

Jones, who had grounded out to the pitcher and fouled out to first in his first two at-bats, attempted to bunt. He fouled it off and ultimately fell behind 1-2.

“I talked to him ahead of time in case that situation arose and asked him if he'd bunt,” Ausmus said. “And I said if you get the bunt sign, go ahead and bunt for a hit, don't try to sacrifice. But after the first one he took, I wasn't overly impressed with it, so I took (the bunt sign) off. 

“Just let him swing at that point.”

Jones put a good swing on a tough 1-2 pitch on the outside corner and slapped it into the corner in right scoring Upton. 

When he got to second he saluted first to his dugout and then his family, who had made the trek from Mississippi. 

“That’s probably one of the biggest things I think about right now, my parents being here for that moment for me,” he said. “I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s just amazing that they can get on a plane, and come up here and watch me, after all those years they followed me, traveling to every game. I’m glad they could be here for it.”

Kinsler followed with a two-run single off Jacob Turner to break the game open. The four-RBI night for Kinsler was the most since he knocked in five against the Yankees on June 11. He previously had four RBIs total in his last 14 games.

J.D. Martinez, who doubled in the second and sixth, hit his 19th home run off Turner leading off the seventh inning.

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He’s going to hate to see the calendar turn. Martinez in the month of August is hitting .410, with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 14 RBIs and 21 runs scored. 

Jones capped off the scoring with a single through a drawn-in infield in the seventh. According to Baseball Reference, Jones is the first Tigers player to post two hits and two RBIs in his major league debut since Hank Riebe in 1942.

“Just the fact that they have confidence in me, to come up here, on my first day, and have me play third base while they’re on that (playoff) run,” Jones said. “Them having that confidence in me like that, it’s a great feeling for me to have. 

“Hopefully, I can just keep it rolling, keep it going, and do whatever I can to help the Tigers keep winning games.”

The Tigers remain 4.5 games back of the Indians in the Central Division and a game out of a wild-card spot. 

Twitter: @cmccosky