DETROIT -- The Tigers held a closed-door meeting for players and coaches on Saturday after a lethargic start to the second half. They then went out and put up double-digit runs for the first time since June 16, pummeling the Blue Jays in an 11-1 win.Just as manager Brad Ausmus
DETROIT -- The Tigers held a closed-door meeting for players and coaches on Saturday after a lethargic start to the second half. They then went out and put up double-digit runs for the first time since June 16, pummeling the Blue Jays in an 11-1 win.
Just as manager Brad Ausmus did before the game, he downplayed the importance of the meeting.
"We talk about what comes first, the chicken or the egg," Ausmus said. "Something usually happens on the field to spark a team."
Michael Fulmer was a spark with eight innings of two-hit ball, proving the good timing of a team meeting before a team's best starter takes the mound. But there was plenty more than that. While Fulmer quieted the Jays, the Tigers' offense took advantage of time at the plate and an injury to Francisco Liriano and erupted.
The only Tigers home runs over the previous six games had come from utility infielder Dixon Machado last Thursday against the Giants and Andrew Romine's ninth-inning solo homer Friday night in a loss to Toronto. Machado's home run was the last ball the Tigers had "barreled," according to Statcast™: a well-struck ball with an expected batting average of .500 and slugging percentage of 1.500.
Once Nicholas Castellanos poked through the early evening shadows at a Liriano first-inning fastball and sent it over the right-field fence for his first home run since July 2, the Tigers offense perked up -- not just at the plate, but on the bases.
"There were a lot of good things that happened offensively, running the bases, tag-ups, going first-to-third," Ausmus said. "Doesn't hurt that we got a few home runs, too."
They came from the usual suspects, the sluggers who had gone quiet leading up to the All-Star break. Jose Cabrera, who had been struggling against inside pitches for most of the previous week, showed signs of coming around when he blistered a Mike Bolsinger cutter to short -- 107.6 mph exit velocity on a low line drive, according to Statcast™ -- off Justin Upton's foot for an out in the fourth inning.
Next time up, Cabrera -- brought up with a runner on thanks in part to Ian Kinsler taking off for second base and avoiding a double play on Upton's ground ball to third -- turned on a Bolsinger cutter that was well inside, and he was rewarded with a 105.8 mph drive off the bat and over the left-field fence for a two-run home run, his first since July 1.
But nobody had a bigger day than J.D. Martinez, whose five-RBI effort came with the eyes of nearly a dozen scouts on him ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline and the expected Tigers selloff. After Liriano left with a trainer with the bases loaded and a 2-0 count, having thrown just three of 17 third-inning pitches for strikes, Martinez pounced for a two-run single and a 5-0 Detroit lead.
Martinez also hit Bolsinger's last pitch, a hanging slider, for a sixth-inning double before hitting an opposite-field three-run homer in the eighth to put Detroit into double digits and push his OPS to 1.006.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.