Do you enjoy roller coasters? The Tigers must, because for the second game in three days in Kansas City, they rode the late-inning coaster down and then back up. An eighth-inning home run by Justin Upton ultimately did the trick for the Tigers, who beat the Royals 6-5.
After a beaut of a home run by J.D. Martinez in the fourth and a pair of two-out hits in the seventh, the Tigers led 4-1. Daniel Norris was on the mound, pitching his best game of the year with just three hits allowed and only a solo home run given up.
The seventh inning was a struggle. Norris gave up a walk and a hit to open the inning before manager Brad Ausmus brought the hook. Alex Wilson, who earlier in the year struggled with stranding inherited runners, was of no help: He gave up two hits and two walks, accounting for four runs in the frame for a 5-4, gut-punching deficit.
Norris’ day finished at seven strikeouts and a walk, with three runs coming on four hits and a walk.
But Justin Upton, the goat of Saturday’s game, was the GOAT of Sunday’s. Or good enough, anyway. Miguel Cabrera singled to open the inning, and Upton hit a two-out, two-run shot to retake the lead, 6-5.
Shane Greene pitched a scoreless eighth and Francisco Rodriguez survived a dramatic ninth to clinch the win.
The Tigers scored four runs off KC starter Edinson Volquez on seven hits and a walk. They had 13 hits for the game, led by Ian Kinsler’s three-hit day.
Baltimore has already lost, putting the Tigers back into a tie for the second wild card spot.
2-out hitting — All four runs scored by Detroit in the seventh inning or later came with two outs.
Justin Upton — A two-run home run in the eighth helped the Tigers find the lead Alex Wilson misplaced a half-inning earlier.
J.D. Martinez — Hit his 20th home run of the season in the fourth inning. It landed in the fountain in left-center.
Shane Greene — Bailed the Tigers out of the seventh inning mess and pitched a scoreless eighth inning to shut KC down after retaking the lead.
Daniel Norris -- His final line didn’t look as good as he pitched, but for the first six innings he looked really great, keeping the pitch count manageable and striking out seven.
Ian Kinsler — 3-hit game. Bloody finish only added to the mystique.
Ian Kinsler's right hand after that groundout. pic.twitter.com/zQ0kbJ5Yta— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) September 4, 2016
Alex Wilson — He’s been better at keeping inherited runners away from home plate in the second half. This game, not so much. Both of Daniel Norris’ runners scored and so did two more runners of his own doing. Wilson gave up two hits and two walks in two-thirds off an inning.
Stats and stuff
- J.D. Martinez has hit 20 or more home runs for the third straight year.
- Justin Upton also hit 20 or more home runs with his today. He did it for the fourth consecutive year.
- The Tigers have five players with 20 or more home runs this year: Miguel Cabrera (29), Ian Kinsler (25), Victor Martinez (23), and J.D. Martinez and Upton both at 20. The last time the Tigers had five was 1997, per Tigers PR: Clark, Easley, Fryman, Higginson, Nieves.
- Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton, Tyler Collins and Andrew Romine each had multi-hit games.
- This was Kinsler’s seventh three-hit game and 47th multi-hit game of the season.
- Four of Detroit’s six runs were scored with two outs, and all in the seventh inning or later.
Win probability chart