McKinstry’s blast gives Tigers 10-inning victory over Rockies

Detroit News
By Kameron Goodwill |  Special to The Detroit News

It felt like another game in which the Tigers offense would go cold, this time in the high altitude of Coors Field.

After a miserable June stretch, Zach McKinstry’s three-run homer in the top of the 10th inning might have given the Tigers the jumpstart they need for a new month, as they defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-2 Saturday night.

The Tigers have more experience in extra frames than most teams, this being their 12th extra-innings game this season. They are 8-4 in the extras.

McKinstry went 2-for-5, including his 400-foot home run to right-center that propelled the Tigers to victory, along with a stolen base.

“He (Pierce Johnson) threw me a few curveballs up, I saw he was trying to get them up in the zone, and I got a fastball up and in and took a good swing on it,” McKinstry told Bally Sports Detroit after the game. “I knew exactly what he was gonna throw me, I was telling the hitting coaches instead of them giving me the scouting report, I gave them the scouting report. … I was confident in it, and it was a good at-bat.”

Jonathan Schoop would also have multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Andy Ibáñez entered the game as one of the Tigers’ hottest hitters and continued his hot June with a double in the sixth.

Following an offensive explosion in the previous game, featuring a combined 13 runs and 20 hits from both teams, this game went scoreless for the first five and a half innings, with a combined six runs scored on 15 hits.

With starting pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Tarik Skubal waiting until the next series against the Oakland Athletics to make their comebacks, Tigers manager AJ Hinch used up his bullpen for the game. With this win, the Tigers are now 6-0 in bullpen games.

Reliever Brendan White made the first major-league start, pitching one inning and getting out of a jam with runners on first and third. Zach Logue lasted the longest, pitching 3.1 innings and giving up one hit with two strikeouts.

Matt Vierling got the Tigers’ first hit, a two-out triple in the top of the second, but Miguel Cabrera struck out leaving Vierling stranded.

Javier Báez went 0-for-5 but made another spectacular diving play in the bottom of the third, cutting off Jurickson Profar’s possible hit and turning it into a highlight out. That play was proceeded by Schoop mishandling a ball with an errant throw to first, allowing Kris Bryant to roam to second, even though no runs were scored on that error.

Jose Cisnero started the bottom of the sixth and he couldn’t stop Ezequiel Tovar’s hitting streak. Tovar hit safely for the 14th straight game, an RBI single that brought CJ Cron home for the game’s first run. Tovar was called out trying to make it to second base, but the damage had been done.

Jake Bird came in for the Rockies in the top of the seventh, and it only took five pitches for the Tigers to tie the score. Miguel Cabrera started it off with a single, and Schoop made up for his earlier mistake with a double that brought pinch-runner Jake Marisnick home. Schoop would be left on third base after three straight outs.

McKinstry’s homer was huge, but the Tigers still needed to close out the game. Alex Lange came in and retired the first two batters in the bottom of the tenth before the Rockies made it interesting. Lange walked Profar and Bryant hit an RBI single to bring the Rockies within two.

With runners on first and third, Hinch kept Lange in and got the final strikeout on Ryan McMahon, an exclamation on a big win for a team that desperately needed it.

Hinch was positive about how his bullpen performed when he talked to reporters after the game, especially about how Logue and Lange performed in their longer stints.

“When you get a three-run lead in most ballparks, you feel extremely comfortable … but Lange hung in there, and two-innings stints, not his norm, but we really needed it and he delivered,” Hinch said.

Kameron Goodwill is a freelance writer.

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