Kinsler ties Tigers' record with leadoff homer

Second baseman matches Granderson with seventh of season, delivers decisive RBI in key win

Kinsler ties Tigers' record with leadoff homer

DETROIT -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler started off the Tigers' series against the Twins with a bang, and powered his way into the team's record books as a result. His seventh leadoff home run this season Monday night tied the Tigers' franchise record set by Curtis Granderson before Detroit rallied for a 4-2 victory.

Kinsler sent a 3-1 fastball from Ervin Santana to left-center field to set the tone, his second leadoff homer off Santana this season and his third off him in his career. Kinsler was not aware he had tied the record until after the game, but he said hopefully now he can get one more.

"I don't know how many games we've won when I've hit leadoff home runs, but if it helps us win games, then I'm all for it," Kinsler said. "I don't know if it's that important of a record. I think it's fun to do. It's fun to be up 1-0 after the first hitter, so I enjoy that."

While Detroit is 3-4 in games Kinsler has hit a leadoff homer, his blast Monday came in an important game for the Tigers, as they won on a night the Orioles lost, allowing them to move within one game of the second American League Wild Card spot. And it was Kinsler who drove in the decisive run with a sacrifice fly in a two-run seventh.

Kinsler's sac fly

"When you get into September and you have a chance to win, that's where you want to be," Kinsler said. "Leaving Spring Training, if someone says you have a chance to win and go to the playoffs entering September, you're going to take it. We're in a good spot right now, and it's getting down to the end of it. You can no longer say it's a long season, and every game is extremely important."

Manager Brad Ausmus said he is not surprised that Kinsler tied Granderson's record and hopes he can get one more to break it. Granderson first set the mark in 2007 and matched it in '09.

"For two-thirds of the season, you could argue he was our MVP in a lot of ways," Ausmus said. "He's cooled off a little bit now, but he's still always a threat. I really like him at the top of the lineup, because he is a threat to hit a home run and put a run on the board with one swing of the bat."

Kinsler has 39 career leadoff home runs, ranking seventh in Major League history. He is three behind Granderson for sixth on that list, while Rickey Henderson holds the all-time record with 81.

Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.