Romine hits first career homer as Tigers snap skid
MAY 23, 2014 9:52p ET
DETROIT -- The Tigers have only been home for two days, but that's been long enough for both shortstops to have one of the biggest thrills of their careers.
One day after Danny Worth turned into a lights-out reliever, it was Andrew Romine's turn on the stage. For him, though, the big moment came with a bat in his hands. In the sixth inning of Detroit's 7-2 win over Texas, Romine hit a line drive down the rightfield line that bounced off the base of the foul pole for his first career home run.
"I knew it was hard enough, but I didn't know if it was going to stay fair," he said. "I saw it hook, and obviously, I had the perfect angle to see it hook foul. Then it hit the pole, the ump's finger went up and everything was a blur after that."
Romine's homer wasn't exactly a moon shot -- it didn't travel as far as Golden Tate's shot during batting practice -- but he didn't care. He jogged around the bases with a huge grin on his face, then charged down the dugout steps in order to give a giant chest bump to Miguel Cabrera.
Instead of the silent treatment that teams normally give to a player hitting his first home run, Romine's teammates mobbed him in the dugout, knowing how badly he needed the moment. While he's been playing outstanding defense at shortstop, he came into the game hitting .173, including a brutal .065 since May 6.
Of course, it also helped that, with Romine in his fifth major-league season, a lot of teammates thought he must have hit a homer somewhere.
"I've played with him with two different teams," said Torii Hunter, who was also with Romine on the Angels. "I didn't know he had never hit one."
With blue-chip Eugenio Suarez recently being promoted to Triple-A Toledo, Romine knows he has to prove he can hit if he's going to remain as the main replacement for Jose Iglesias. He was pressing more than a little before Friday -- the homer ended an 0-for-22 skid -- and he's hoping the homer will change things for him.
"When that ball was hooking, I was just praying it would stay fair," he said. "I don't know what else I could do to get a hit right now."
Romine was hardly the only Tiger to swing the bats well against Rangers pitching. Austin Jackson homered, Miguel Cabrera had an RBI double, and Ian Kinsler had three doubles and three runs against his former team.
Kinsler has something to prove to the Rangers, and the Tigers know it.
"I like Ian in the lineup so much that I still haven't given him a day off," Brad Ausmus said. "I need to do that soon, but it won't be in this series."
Texas manager Ron Washington knew starter Jeff Baker was in trouble when he walked Victor Martinez to start the second inning, moments after the Rangers had taken a 2-0 lead off Anibal Sanchez. Jackson homered two batters later and the rout was on.
"We didn't him to do that, and he didn't want to do that, but you also don't want (Martinez) to crush something, so it happens," Washington said. "Baker was getting pitches up, and you can't do that against that team. Ian is a good hitter and Cabrera and Martinez are great hitters. It shows you how well that team swings the bat that even the kid at the bottom got a homer."
Once the Tigers started hitting, the game was over. Sanchez faltered briefly in the second, giving up a single and a double before Mitch Moreland's two-run shot into the left-centerfield gap gave Texas their lead. He retired the next three batters in order, though, leaving Moreland stuck at third, and the Rangers never got another runner into scoring position against him.
"Usually I can tell right away if a pitcher is going to have a good day," said Alex Avila. "I've been wrong before, but Anibal was really sharp, even when they got the runs in the second inning, so I thought he was going to be OK."
He was better that, and thanks to Romine and the rest of Detroit's power hitters, an ugly little losing streak was put firmly to bed.