Relexad Jones powers Tigers
DETROIT — When Detroit outfielder JaCoby Jones came to the plate in the seventh inning of a tie game Thursday afternoon, he was well aware he was struggling at the plate after striking out in his first two at-bats against the Twins.
He chose to focus on something else — the walkoff home run he hit against the Kansas City Royals nearly two months ago — and came through again. Jones hit Lance Lynn’s 3-1 fastball over the wall for the final two runs in Detroit’s 3-1 win.
“I knew I had some success in big lategame situations earlier this year, so I tried to take something from that,” said Jones, who was hitting .135 in his last 10 games. “I was just looking for a fastball I could drive. I’ve really been pressing, so I tried to be more relaxed — the way I was earlier in the year when I hit that homer against the Royals. That’s the type of thing that can get you right out of a slump.”
Detroit won the last two games of the series to improve to 23-17 at Comerica Park. The Tigers, who play their next eight games on the road, are 10-20 away from home.
“This is our place and we have done a great job of playing here,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Now we’ve got to take this momentum onto the road.”
Michael Fulmer improved to 5-0 in five career starts against the Twins. He pitched seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk to end a three-start winless streak.
“It’ s about time, ”Ful mer said .“Everything felt great out there. Even when they got a run in the first, it was off good pitches that were where I wanted them.”
Joe Jimenez pitched the eighth and Shane Greene threw the ninth for his 17th save.
Lynn took a shutout into the seventh but ended up allowing three runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out nine in 6⅔ innings.
“I wanted to pitch the seventh,” Lynn said. “When all is said and done, it is a loss. I need to be better next time.”
John Hicks led off the bottom of the seventh with his first career triple, a line drive to the right-centre gap. Niko Goodrum followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game. With two out, Lynn hit Jose Iglesias and Jones hit Lynn’s 114th and final pitch over the wall.
Detroit’s three-run seventh came one day after the Tigers scored four in the eighth inning of a 5-2 win.
“It is fun to watch these guys play right now in the late innings,” Fulmer said. “As a starting pitcher, I’d appreciate a few more first-inning runs, but this is great.”
Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones connects for a two-run homer during the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park in Detroit on Thursday.