'Impressive': Rookie Jones sparks Tigers to sweep of Sox
Detroit — Welcome to The Show, Part II.
JaCoby Jones followed up his impressive major league debut Tuesday with an encore to remember Wednesday, doubling twice and scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Tigers beat the White Sox, 3-2, to complete a three-game sweep at Comerica Park.
Jones doubled to deep right-center field leading off the ninth against White Sox closer David Robertson, moved to third on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s fly to right field, and then scampered home on Tyler Collins’ sacrifice fly to left.
He slid head first into home as the throw from ex-Tigers prospect Avisail Garcia was off-line, sending the crowd of 32,465 screaming in delight.
BOX SCORE: Tigers 3, White Sox 2
“He was saying something, but I couldn’t really understand him,” Jones said of third base coach Dave Clark, who he believes was saying, “Go! Go!”
“I was gonna go anyway regardless, unless he punched me and said, ‘Stop.’ With my speed, maybe I can make it, and he didn’t make a perfect throw. It worked out.”
Jones, acquired last summer in a trade with the Pirates for Joakim Soria, started at third base Tuesday and in center field Wednesday. He has four hits, including three doubles, two RBIs and a winning run.
He’s provided the spark to an offense manager Brad Ausmus and general manager Al Avila envisioned when they started discussing his callup before Monday’s game.
“That, right there, injects energy,” Ausmus said. “There’s no question that young players are excited to be here. Although the experience in the veteran is probably over a long season more important, there’s definitely something to the fact that a young player or young players can bring that excitement to a ballclub.
“I’m pleasantly surprised by it.”
Jones also led the Tigers to their first run, cutting a 2-0 deficit to 2-1 in the fifth after he led off with a double to right-center off Chris Sale, then advanced to third on a hard grounder to first by Saltalamacchia. Romine then drove home Jones with a sharp single to center field.
The Tigers won all three games in the series coming from behind late.
Detroit has today off before resuming action Friday night with a three-game series in Kansas City.
And, the Tigers hope to have Miguel Cabrera (ankle) and Cameron Maybin (thumb) back, although Jones sure is making things go right now.
“Impressive,” starter Justin Verlander said, smiling. “He’s been a real spark plug, a shot in the arm, especially the last couple games.
“That ball (in the ninth) almost had a chance to leave and you don’t see young guys like that going oppo to that part of the park very often. He’s a big, strong kid, fast ... super-athletic. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Verlander went seven innings, allowing three hits — two that were costly. With two outs in the fourth, he saw back-to-back pitches — a change-up to Abreu and then a fastball to ex-Tigers catcher Alex Avila — leave the park. It was Avila’s fifth home run and eighth RBI this season.
That was it, though. Verlander retired the final 10 batters he faced before coming out after seven with his pitch count elevated (113/83 strikes) thanks to a couple 11-pitch duels, one with Justin Morneau to end the sixth and one with Abreu to start the seventh.
He struck out nine, including six of the first eight he faced, and didn’t walk a batter.
“You know he’s probably not gonna give up much in the way of runs,” Verlander said of Sale. “You understand the pace of the game.
“You’re not gonna have many runs to work with.”
Sale looked hittable early, as four of the first eight Tigers reached, three on sharp hits. But he got Jose Iglesias to hit into a double play in the first, then Saltalamacchia hit into one in the second. James McCann joined the club in the fourth.
The Tigers finally got to Sale in the fifth before he struck out the side in the seventh.
Ian Kinsler started the eighth with a double, though, and Iglesias bunted him up to set up a showdown between Sale and Victor Martinez — who has had the better of Sale during their careers. Sale, however, struck out Martinez for the sixth time in 48 career plate appearances, leaving it up to J.D. Martinez.
J.D. Martinez, who hit a homer on the first pitch he saw from Sale earlier this month after coming off the disabled list, lined a sharp single to left field, making it 2-2.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth, working around a broken-bat single by Abreu to get Avila — batting fifth because Melky Cabrera (stomach) was a late scratch — to strike out on an 85-mph change-up.
That set the stage for Jones, who doesn’t seem spooked by the size of this stage.
“Not at all,” Jones said when asked if he could've dreamt of a better start to his career with the Tigers. “But even if I didn’t (get the hits or RBIs), I probably still would’ve had a blast just being in the big leagues.
“Luckily, I got some hits and some RBIs and ... two Ws for the Tigers. So it’s all good.”