Kinsler's 2nd HR propels Tigers past Mariners
DETROIT -- Ian Kinsler's first two-homer game in four years included a go-ahead two-run shot with two outs in the eighth, sending the Tigers to a 5-4 win over the Mariners Monday night at Comerica Park.
Mike Zunino's second three-RBI game of the season included a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning, supporting J.A. Happ's seven quality innings to hand a 4-3 lead to Mark Lowe, who hadn't allowed a run in 12 outings since June 14. A one-out double from Jose Iglesias, however, set up the winning rally.
Kinsler, who lofted a pitch over the left-field fence for a first-inning solo homer, turned on a 96-mph fastball from Lowe (0-1) and sent a no-doubter to left for the follow-up. It completed his first multi-homer game since Sept. 7, 2011.
The loss was the third in the last four days for the Mariners on a late-inning home run off the bullpen after Joe Beimel and Fernando Rodney gave up game-winners to the Yankees.
"It was a tough pitch," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "[Kinsler] put a good swing on it and that's three tough losses on this road trip by the long ball late in the ballgame. That makes it even tougher. But my guys are resilient and we'll bounce back."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Just shy of a slam: Hits have been tough to come by for Zunino, who came into the game batting .158 and riding a 1-for-21 slump. But the 24-year-old catcher delivered a two-run double in the second and just missed his first career grand slam as he blasted a 3-2 pitch from Tigers starter Alfredo Simon to straightaway center field. That's a tough place to hit the ball out at Comerica and Zunino's drive caromed high off the 420-foot wall to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Zunino later added an RBI single in the sixth to put Seattle on top again, 4-3. More >
"I hit it well, but it's a long way out there," Zunino said of his double. "That wind was swirling so I didn't know if that was helping it or doing that. Then I got nervous that [Rajai] Davis was going to get there. But I hit that ball hard and I'll take that double any day."
Clutch Kinsler: Kinsler entered Monday batting just .240 (12-for-50) in close-and-late situations this season, and his power drought has been well-documented. However, he was 4-for-8 with a home run off Lowe for his career, including a three-run homer in their previous meeting two years ago while Kinsler was still a Texas Ranger. More >
Happ turnabout: The Mariners lefty was in trouble with one out in the second, having given up two walks and then a two-run double by Tigers catcher James McCann that gave Detroit a 3-2 lead. But Jose Iglesias then hit a low liner to center fielder Austin Jackson, who doubled McCann off second to get Happ out of that frame. And from there on, the southpaw cruised as he shut out the Tigers over the next five innings on just two singles to turn a 4-3 lead over to Lowe in the eighth. More >
"He did a nice job against a tough right-handed lineup and he did the job for seven innings," McClendon said. "He gave us everything we asked him to give us. We had our bullpen lined up the way we wanted, so we went to our bullpen."
Bullpen comes up big: Simon gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings and left with a 4-3 deficit after Zunino's go-ahead single in the sixth. The difference came from the Tigers' bullpen, as three different relievers combined to retire 10 of Seattle's final 12 batters to keep the game close and shut it down once Kinsler's homer put them in front. Al Alburquerque (1-0) stranded an insurance run on second base in the eighth to earn the win before Joakim Soria retired the top of the Mariners' lineup in order for his 21st save.
"I know he's a good low-ball hitter on fastballs. If I throw a fastball there, my plan is to go up with it, either up and in or up and away. I'd just thrown him three sliders before that and he was definitely out in front. So you could sit and look at it and say, 'You should have thrown another slider.' And I could have. It could have gone either way. We chose to throw a fastball and I missed my location and he beat me on it." -- Lowe, on Kinsler's go-ahead homer
"He'll probably send me a text. He'll probably send me something nasty because that's just the way he is. He's a jokester. He's a great teammate to have. But tonight we're on different teams, and we have to compete." -- Kinsler, on former Rangers teammate Lowe
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Robinson Cano's game-tying home run in the fifth was his third homer in the past three games for Seattle and seventh in his past 23 games after hitting just two in his first 67 outings this season.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus tried to get an inning-ending double play out of Logan Morrison's sixth-inning lineout on replay review, but a 2-minute, 59-second review showed nothing to overrule the original call that Jackson slid back into second base ahead of Kinsler's throw. That kept the inning alive for Zunino's go-ahead single.
Mariners: Right-hander Taijuan Walker (7-7, 4.84 ERA) makes his second start in the past two weeks against the Tigers in Tuesday's 4:08 p.m. PT start at Comerica Park. The 22-year-old is 6-2 with a 3.03 ERA over his past nine starts, including a July 7 no-decision against Detroit when he allowed five runs and six hits -- including three homers -- in six innings.
Tigers: Nine days after Shane Greene was rocked for seven runs in his return to the big leagues, the young sinkerballer will make his first start of the second half against a Mariners lineup sure to challenge him with left-handed hitters, who are batting .349 with a .993 OPS off Greene this season. The game is scheduled for a 7:08 p.m. ET start.
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