Kinsler has #ASGWorthy career-best night

Kinsler has #ASGWorthy career-best night

NEW YORK -- Ian Kinsler is Shane Greene's favorite baseball player for a number of reasons, but the Tigers right-hander said one aspect in particular stands out.

"I knew the kind of player he was, growing up watching him and then playing against him," Greene said after the Tigers' 6-1 win over the Yankees on Saturday night. "But seeing him every day, his work ethic every day, it's an eye opener."

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The fruits of Kinsler's work were on display at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. With the first five-RBI game of his career in the books, he stood alone at second base in the seventh inning, turned his gaze toward the Tigers' dugout, and he pumped his fist.

Kinsler's previous at-bat ended with the second baseman trotting around the bases to celebrate a three-run home run, and his next appearance nearly ended the same way. His drive to center field, though, landed in front of the fence for a double as two runs scored to help seal the Tigers' win over the Yankees.

"He's kind of Steady Eddie. He plays all the time, he's always basically hitting the same spot in the lineup. He's very intense and into the game," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's a catalyst and he brings a lot attitude to the ballpark, in a good way."

Kinsler's fifth-inning blast put a dent in what had been a bountiful weekend for the Yankees. The Tigers were shut out, 4-0, in the series opener Friday night and had scored just one run through 13 innings in New York.

But Kinsler's homer, his 12th of the season, pushed momentum in the other direction.

With the dinger, he's now in a four-way tie for first on the team and is on pace for 34 long balls, which would be a career high.

Kinsler said he's not trying to hit homers, insisting he's "just trying to get on base." In fact, he explained, he's adjusted his swing in recent seasons.

"The last couple years, I've tried to become more of a line-drive hitter," Kinsler said. "The last couple years in Texas, I was hitting the ball in the air a lot. So there was some adjustments I needed to make, and whether that took away from my power or not, I don't know."

Nevertheless, Kinsler's power seems to have returned in 2016. His HR/FB is 12.1 percent, according to FanGraphs, which is the highest since 2011, when it was 12.5 percent. He recorded five and 6.5 percent over the past two campaigns.

The power proved especially beneficial Saturday, as Miguel Cabrera, a two-time American League MVP Award winner and Detroit's No. 3 hitter, finished 0-for-4 for the second night in a row.

And on a night in which right-hander Justin Verlander did his part by allowing one earned run in 6 2/3 innings, Kinsler carried the team to victory, becoming the first Tiger to collect five RBIs in a game since Nick Castellanos accomplished the feat on Aug. 19, 2015, in a 15-8 win over the White Sox.

"He's the one that gets us all going," Castellanos said of Kinsler. "He's playing ridiculously good baseball right now. … He's our kick-starter right now."

Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.