Detroit — Jordy Mercer was honest talking about his game-ending home run Thursday that gave the Tigers a dramatic 10-8 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
It was a great moment for Mercer, especially given the struggles the veteran shortstop has had with a groin injury, forcing him to miss much of the season.
So this was a satisfying moment in a long season.
But Mercer also thought about the small downside of hitting of the two-run, walk-off homer.
“I was thinking about how cold the Gatorade is going to be,” Mercer said about that dreaded cold shower awaiting him at home plate. “I saw it out of the corner of my eye and thinking, ‘Here it comes.’ That’s one thing I was thinking about.
“They got me with water first and Niko (Goodrum) came around and got me with the Gatorade. And another water. Gumballs were flying around, too.
“Just about everything.”
But rest assured, it was worth it.
“Pretty awesome,” Mercer said of his sixth home run of the season. “What I’ve been through, I don’t wish on anyone. Groin injuries are terrible.”
Travis Demeritte, who tied the game at 8 with his first major league home run in the seventh inning, opened the ninth with a walk. Demeritte moved to second on Jake Rogers’ bunt before Mercer blasted his home run to right field off Royals reliever Richard Lovelady.
“He works real hard and no one is more frustrated than him with his leg and still fighting that pain off,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of Mercer. “He’s been swinging good lately, barreling a lot of baseballs and we felt good with him coming up in that situation. It’s nice to see him do that, a good moment for the ball club and him.”
Starting pitcher Matthew Boyd couldn’t finish the third inning, but the Tigers’ bullpen was very good — newly recalled Matt Hall was superb relieving Boyd — and the Tigers capitalized on a Royals pitching staff that couldn’t throw strikes and issued nine walks.
Joe Jimenez got the victory after a spotless ninth inning, after Buck Farmer set down all three hitters he faced in the eighth.
Miguel Cabrera hit career home run No. 473, tying him for 33rd on the all-time list with Carlos Delgado, while Harold Castro hit a three-run home run in the second and the Tigers scored twice on bases-loaded walks.
Still, when Alex Gordon connected on a three-run home run off Jose Cisnero in the sixth, giving Kansas City an 8-7 lead — Cisnero’s only blemish in 1.2 innings of work — it appeared the Tigers were headed for another disappointing evening.
But not this time.
“That speaks to who we are as a team and the fight we have,” Boyd said. “To come back and do that, that’s pretty awesome.”
It was Boyd’s shortest outing of the season, as he allowed six hits, including three home runs, five earned runs and three walks with one strikeout in 2.2 innings.
“I was out of sync, I knew I was out of sync,” Boyd said. “I just couldn’t make the adjustments there in the game.”
Another piece of bad news for the Tigers was the loss of outfielder JaCoby Jones in the second inning.
Royals starting pitcher Jorge Lopez hit Jones on the left wrist with a fastball that sent Jones to the clubhouse almost immediately.
The Tigers announced several innings later Jones was diagnosed with a left wrist contusion, and X-rays were negative.
“We got lucky,” Gardenhire said. “On the field, the trainer thought it could be a fracture because he (Jones) was touching it by the elbow and feeling it through his fingers. We got lucky. It’s just a deep bruise.
“He got hit really hard. His range of motion won’t be good tomorrow. He got whacked hard, but we’ll see where he stands in the morning and go from there.”
The teams combined for eight home runs Thursday — four by each team — in a rare power display at spacious Comerica Park.
“It was definitely flying,” said Gardenhire, thinking about recently traded Nick Castellanos who lamented the dimensions of Comerica Park just before being dealt to the Chicago Cubs (Castellanos hit two home runs for the Cubs on Thursday).
“Hope Nick was watching. Just a joke, we love you Nicky.”
After the game, the Tigers optioned reliever Blaine Hardy to Triple-A Toledo, and recalled veteran starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, who will pitch Friday against the Royals.