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Detroit — JaCoby Jones — he exhilarates and he exasperates. 

"He's lucky he has a butt right now," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Lucky I didn't chew it off. But he's learning."

The Tigers scored seven runs in the first inning against left-hander Cole Hamels Saturday, beating the Rangers 7-2, and Jones was at the center of most of the action.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 7, Rangers 2

"He's a spectacular guy," said Tigers' starter Mike Fiers, who went six strong innings for his sixth win of the season. "He's fast, he jumps high — he can do everything you want a center fielder to do."

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Jones is 26 and in his first full season with the Tigers. On Saturday, it was his line drive that Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields butchered, allowing three of the seven runs to score.

But Jones nearly cost the Tigers two runs in the same inning. On the ball DeShields missed, he was nearly thrown out at second base — before Jeimer Candelario, who was running from first base, crossed home plate. Jones loped into second, didn't slide and very nearly was tagged out.

Then, on a base hit by Mikie Mahtook, Jones jogged home from second. Meanwhile, Mahtook stretched the single into a double and was barely safe at second. If he'd been thrown out, Jones would not have scored.

"He thought he hit a line drive right to the center fielder," Gardenhire explained. "When he saw the ball dropped, he started to run. Then he didn't run home. He was jogging home and they had a play at second.

"Those are the things you can't control (as a runner), so you still have to go hard. They catch it, they might get Mahtook at second before he scores."

Gardenhire was miffed at the time, but didn't say anything to Jones when he came back into the dugout.

"I could see how frustrated he was," Gardenhire said. "I didn't say a word. Just leave it at that. I'll talk to him as we go along."

Jones, who left the clubhouse early to be with his family and didn't speak to the media, more than made up for it, though, by stealing a home run from Adrian Beltre in the sixth inning.

"That was amazing," Fiers said. "I thought for sure it was gone. Amazing. I've said this before, but no matter what the score is, no matter what's going on, these guys are playing hard behind me and I love it." 

Beltre hit a majestic fly ball that was headed into the visitor’s bullpen in left-center field. Jones got back, leaped and caught the ball on the other side of the fence and brought it back.

"JaCoby is fun to watch out there," said Niko Goodrum, who had four hits and is now hitting .464 in the month of July. "He's going to do some amazing things. When that ball was hit, I just waited to see what he was going to do.

"When he got it, I just kind of went crazy. I wanted to run out there and celebrate with him."

The game literally came to a stop before the next batter, Rougned Odor, stepped in as players on both teams watched the replay on the big scoreboard.

"We saw (Kevin) Pillar in Toronto make a catch on Nicky (Castellanos) that was every bit as good — the fence is taller there," Gardenhire said. "But that was a super play. He had to make a long run, the sun is out there — it wasn't an easy play.

"You have to time it. His whole arm went over the fence. You have to be athletic to be able to some of those things he does."

If nothing else this month, the Tigers are making major league scouts recalculate their thoughts about possible trade targets — especially those from teams seeking starting pitching help.

Earlier this month they roughed up Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ (seven runs in 5⅔ innings). Then on Saturday, they KO'd Hamels in the first inning.

He recorded just two outs while giving up a 411-foot home run to Castellanos, walking two and giving up three singles. The Tigers sent 11 hitters to the plate in that inning.

Castellanos struck his 15th home run of the season with an exit velocity of 109 mph. He drove it on a line over the Tigers’ bullpen in left field.

"We got a big break when that ball to center field was dropped and we were able to add on," Gardenhire said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't add on after that. But Mike held us in."

The only damage against Fiers was a solo home run to right field by Odor, two pitches after Jones robbed Beltre.

"My command wasn't all there today," Fiers said. "But I was able to make some pitches in big spots. I'll take that (seven-run inning) every time, but it got me out of my rhythm a little bit.

"I was effectively wild, I guess you could say, because I don't think they really knew where I was throwing the ball either."

The Tigers, though, are now 6-2 in Fiers’ last eight starts. He allowed five hits over the six innings, and Odor had two of them.

In his last three starts, Fiers has allowed three runs 21 innings, with 16 strikeouts and three walks.

cmccosky@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/cmccosky

  

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