Kinsler at heart of Tigers' balanced lineup
Leads team in RBIs hitting in front of Miggy
CLEVELAND -- The Tigers didn't trail this season until the sixth inning Saturday, which says a lot about how they've played this week. How they reacted Saturday might have said more about their team than the previous four games.
"I don't think it has anything to do with the first four or the next 150," Ian Kinsler said after Saturday's 9-6 comeback win, which moved the Tigers to 5-0."It's about tonight, and we played really well. That was a hard-fought game and those are the types of games that bring out the character of a team. And it was a very good game for us tonight."
It was an extremely good game for Kinsler, which also says a lot about this team.
The last time the Tigers won their first five games to start a season was 2006, when Chris Shelton mashed American League pitching for two weeks. This start from Detroit has no one dominant face, but an amazing amount of balance, which continues to wear down opponents.
Twice, the Indians rallied behind role player Jerry Sands, whose two-run doubles pulled Cleveland ahead off David Price in the sixth inning and tied the game off Ian Krol in the eighth. Twice, the Tigers rallied the next inning.
Both times, Andrew Romine reached base on a walk to start the rally. Both times, Kinsler punctuated it with an opposite-field RBI single. Fittingly, both landed just in front of Sands.
Just when Detroit looked vulnerable on a road, and a rival crowd sensed a chance against the four-time reigning AL Central champs, Detroit sent a reminder about how it got here in the first place.
"You always want to keep the momentum on your side," Kinsler said. "That's a great way to do it. It's not always going to work out that way, but that's the way you want to get through games. If the other team scores, you want to at least get one back, or two, get the good feelings back on your side."
Kinsler went 4-for-5, scored three runs and drove in two others. After tearing up Grapefruit League pitching through March, he's batting .455 on the season (10-for-22) with a team-high seven RBIs. He has answered the season-opening question of who would hit in front of Miguel Cabrera, who also had four hits Saturday.
The goal has always been to get as many runners as possible on base in front of the two-time MVP. The way Kinsler keeps hitting, and the way the guys in front of him keep working the basepaths, he's getting his share of chances as well.
Kinsler has as many RBIs as Cabrera and Victor Martinez combined. To him, though, it's about the balance.
"I'm in a great position," he said. "I usually have guys on base with speed, and I have Miggy standing on deck behind me. That makes for a lot of chances, and quality chances. If I can squeak one through the infield or even hit one hard at an outfielder, I'm most likely looking at an RBI. I've got Miggy behind me to protect me, so it's a great spot to hit -- probably the best in the American League."