Iglesias provides the tinder to ignite a damp Tigers’ offense
Houston — Major League Baseball’s drug-testing program, as stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement, is random.
And yet, there was something suspicious about the decision to take the blood of shortstop Jose Iglesias after the Tigers ended their three-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros Wednesday night.
Iglesias entered the game struggling at the plate — just six hits in his last 48 at-bats in the last 12 games, his seasonal average falling below .200. Yet, it was three big hits by Iglesias, including a two-run home run in the ninth inning, that ignited the dormant Tigers’ offense.
No doubt, Iglesias was happy to give the MLB testers a sample, even if it meant his postgame comments to the media would have to wait a few hours.
“It took a little bit of time, but we finally got the bats going,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Like I said, we’re a good offensive club and we are going to score runs throughout the course of the season.”
Iglesias played a key part in that, triggering — along with Ian Kinsler — three two-run innings — including the pivotal eighth inning.
With the score tied 2-2, he doubled to start the eighth. Kinsler followed with a single to center.
Third-base coach Dave Clark wisely stopped Iglesias at third, even though the throw from center fielder Jake Marisnick sailed over the catcher’s head. There were no outs, and the throw allowed Kinsler to advance to second base.
Iglesias scored on a hard-hit ground ball to first by Alex Avila. And Kinsler scored on another hard-hit grounder, this one by Victor Martinez, that deflected off first baseman Yuli Gurriel to second baseman Jose Altuve, who got the force out at second base.
Those runs off reliever Chris Devenski were first scored by the Tigers in the eighth inning since May 11.
“We struggled to pick up the ball here in the first two games, for whatever reason,” Avila said. “But today we were able to put some runs on the board. We are a couple of days removed from that early arrival (Monday morning) and I thought the guys came with good energy today.”
In the ninth, against Jordan Jankowski, making his big-league debut, Tyler Collins tripled with two outs, ending his 0-for-18 skid. Iglesias followed with an epic 11-pitch at-bat, which featured five foul balls, with a high-arching home run to left.
“The good thing about the last couple of days is, he’s not over-swinging,” Ausmus said of Iglesias. “He stayed within himself. He got into a mode of over-swinging. He hit a few balls hard and didn’t get anything out of it, and it was like he tried to almost hit them harder.
“He’s done a good job of getting away from that.”
The Tigers bullpen finished what Daniel Norris started.
Shane Greene, who replaced starter Norris in the seventh, got all five batters he faced — though he got some defensive help from Justin Upton in left.
Marwin Gonzalez led off the eighth inning with a laser shot to the gap in left-center field. Upton got a great jump on the ball, took a perfect route to the ball and ran it down on the warning track.
“That was a huge play,” Ausmus said. “That could have been a game-changer if he hadn’t caught it.”
Justin Wilson pitched the ninth and allowed a two-out home run to Alex Bregman, who had three hits and was a triple shy of the cycle.
Norris, for the first time in four starts, worked through the sixth inning and into the seventh, allowing just four hits and one earned run.
“That was huge, for sure,” Norris said. “It was just a matter of making pitches when I had to.”