Seven-run first inning propels Tigers past Rangers 7-2
DETROIT (AP) — Long after the Detroit Tigers broke the game open, JaCoby Jones made the play of the day.
Maybe even the play of the year in the Comerica Park outfield.
Jones’ twisting, backhanded catch in the sixth inning took a home run away from Adrian Beltre in Detroit’s 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
The Tigers scored all their runs in the first, chasing Cole Hamels before that inning was over. It was still 7-0 when Jones made his spectacular catch in left-center field.
Beltre’s drive was headed toward the Texas bullpen, but Jones came over from center and jumped, reaching over the wall with his left hand and backhanding the ball. Jones’ momentum spun him around a bit, and he fell forward onto the ground, holding on for the out.
“You have to time it,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “As you saw, his whole arm went over the fence, and he snagged it behind. It’s a timing thing, and you have to be athletic to be able to do some of those things.”
Jones did not stay in the clubhouse to talk to reporters afterward.
Hamels (4-8) retired only two batters for the Rangers in his shortest start since 2010.
Mike Fiers (6-5) allowed a run and five hits in six innings. He struck out six with one walk.
Rougned Odor hit a solo homer for Texas immediately after Beltre was robbed by Jones. Shin-Soo Choo doubled twice for the Rangers to extend his on-base streak to 46 games, tying Julio Franco’s club record set in 1993.
Niko Goodrum had four hits for the Tigers.
Nicholas Castellanos opened the scoring with a solo homer with one out in the first. John Hicks added an RBI single, and Jose Iglesias hit an infield single with two outs and the bases loaded to make it 3-0.
Hamels still would have made it out of the inning, but center fielder Delino DeShields misplayed a line drive by Jones for an error , allowing three more runs to score.
“It just knuckled on me,” DeShields said. “I was trying to stay with it, but it swerved on me at the last second. It’s frustrating, because you are doing everything you can to make the play, but he hit it right on the screws and right at me, and that’s when a ball will take off on you.”
Mikie Mahtook followed with an RBI double, and Hamels was replaced after allowing five hits, two walks and three earned runs. He threw 41 pitches.
It was the shortest start for Hamels since June 1, 2010, when he also lasted two-thirds of an inning for Philadelphia at Atlanta. That start was shortened because of a rain delay.
Hamels had gone at least five innings in each of his first 17 starts this year.
“By the time he gave up the double, he was pushing 40 pitches, and that’s my limit,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “Once you get to 40 in one inning, you are pitching fatigued, and it is too much of a risk to leave him out there. I’m not going to do that to one of my pitchers.”
ON A ROLL
Goodrum had his second four-hit game in a week. He also went 4 for 4 at Toronto on July 1.
He’s hitting .464 (13 for 28) over his last seven games.
“I didn’t know that,” he said. “The only stats I can see is what they show on the board of everyone.”
Rangers: SS Elvis Andrus appeared to foul a pitch off his left leg in the fifth but remained in the game. He was taken out in the eighth.
Michael Fulmer (3-7) takes the mound for Detroit against Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-2) in the series finale Sunday.