Kinsler's first spring blasts lead Tigers' rampage
Hunter, Worth chip in three RBIs apiece in win over Houston
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ian Kinsler's two-run home run, the first of two blasts for him on the day, and Torii Hunter's two-run double led a Tigers onslaught against Astros starter Lucas Harrell, en route to a 14-3 Detroit victory on Saturday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Kinsler's first two home runs of the spring were part of a 3-for-3 afternoon with three runs scored and four RBIs. His lone hit that didn't clear the left-field fence was an RBI bloop single to right field as part of a six-run, eight-hit opening inning. It also led a string of five consecutive hits off Harrell, as the Tigers batted around.
None of those first-inning hits went for more than a double. Once Harrell took the mound for his second inning, the power broke out, starting with a Tyler Collins triple and punctuated by Kinsler's drive to the left-field berm.
Danny Worth's RBI triple ended the afternoon for Harrell, who gave up 10 runs (nine earned) on 12 hits over 1 2/3 innings. Last year's American League leader in walks did not issue a free pass.
"I felt like that was a big thing," Harrell said. "I didn't walk anybody today. So I was throwing a lot of strikes, I was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes and a lot of pitches down [in] the zone. It was just one of those days ... where the snowball got rolling and they started getting good hits."
Those hits benefited Harrell's former travel-ball teammate, Max Scherzer. Five days after the Tigers put up 17 runs of support for the reigning AL Cy Young winner against the Cardinals, Scherzer had a 10-1 lead by the third inning. He gave up runs in the second, third and fourth innings -- including Robbie Grossman's solo homer, but exercised some damage control.
Marc Knauss' leadoff triple and Jesus Guzman's RBI single fueled a roll of three consecutive Houston hits in the second. But Scherzer recovered to strike out the side in order from there, including a called third strike on Carlos Corporan.
"I wasn't sharp today," Scherzer said. "They did a good job of battling me, [hitting] some pitches. But this is an outing I get to learn a lot from. It's good to get battle tested in the spring, get outings like this where they're hitting you around and having good ABs against you. It forces you to keep relentlessly on the attack.
"I think the biggest thing I'm happy about is, even in a battle-tested game, I didn't walk anybody. That's a great sign."
Collins fell a double shy of the cycle, going 3-for-5 with his second home run of the spring. Worth, a non-roster candidate for playing time at shortstop with Jose Iglesias out, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
Up next: Justin Verlander will try to pick up where he left off on Tuesday, as he makes his second start of the spring on Sunday against the Nationals. Game time is 1:05 p.m. ET at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. Rajai Davis, Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos are scheduled to play, while Evan Reed, Bruce Rondon, Al Alburquerque and Jose Ortega are slated to pitch in relief. Jordan Zimmermann will start for Washington. Fans can view the game on MLB.TV or listen to the game on 97.1 FM in Detroit and on Gameday Audio.