McCann enjoys winning trek around bases

Game-winning shot sets off Tigers' celebration

McCann enjoys winning trek around bases

DETROIT -- The last time James McCann hit a walk-off home run, he was still in college. He powered Arkansas past LSU four years ago in front of a record crowd in Fayetteville, Ark., and a national television audience.

The last time McCann hit a ball over the fence was his final game as a Toledo Mud Hen last August. His first Major League home run April 29 was an inside-the-park homer at Minnesota.

Thursday, he said, was a sweeter trek around the bases. Instead of a mad dash, he could enjoy the Tigers' 6-5 win over the Astros.

"To be able to put a 'W' on the board, and be able to jog, is a lot nicer than having to sprint," McCann said.

McCann's walk-off home run

It was pretty nice for his team, too.

McCann had a leadoff single in the Tigers' two-run fifth inning, but otherwise had been quiet for most of the game. He struck out with a potential add-on run on third base in the eighth inning, keeping the Astros a swing away going into the ninth. He had to tip his cap a few batters later when Preston Tucker hit a game-tying homer off Joakim Soria in the ninth on a fastball on the outside corner.

"If you're going to get beat with a home run to tie the game, it better be to the opposite side of the field, and it was," McCann said. "We did what we wanted to as far as making them beat us in the big part of the field."

McCann came up again leading off the 11th with a favorable matchup against Astros lefty Tony Sipp, but he fell into an unfavorable count by taking a first-pitch fastball and then swinging at an offspeed pitch. He had an 0-2 count when Sipp hung him a pitch.

Ausmus on 6-5 walk-off win

"It was an 0-2 splitter," McCann said, "the same pitch that he threw 0-1 and I swung on in the dirt. I was just trying to find something up in the zone."

He got it. And as his resulting swing sent the ball sailing out to left, he took much the same approach as he did on his inside-the-park shot last month, taking off around first base and waiting for a sign.

"I knew it had a chance, but I lost track of it when I put my head down," McCann said. "When I looked back up, it was gone. I had to go by the way the crowd reacted -- that's when I knew it was gone."

With that, he had two unique home runs in his brief Major League resume, now at exactly 100 plate appearances. Asked what he could do to top that, he smiled.

"I'd like to play for a while," McCann said. "That would be a good encore."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.