KANSAS CITY -- Sometimes, all it takes for a struggling offense to break out is one big hit to trigger a big inning. The Tigers' long-awaited big inning came on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium. But to pick up a much-needed 10-7 win over the Royals, they needed another.
"It was a little bit of a roller coaster," manager Brad Ausmus said, "but it was nice to see the bats break out."
It was the opposite of a shutdown inning, an offense picking up its pitching staff after a blown lead. But as they roughed up former teammate Joakim Soria for four runs in the eighth inning after watching what had been a 6-3 lead disappear in the seventh, the Tigers' hitters unloaded their frustrations from a lost weekend in Chicago and a disappointing week in Houston.
There was no big blast like the three-run homer J.D. Martinez provided in a six-run fifth inning. After watching the lead disappear on an Eric Hosmer two-run homer in the seventh, they strung together quality at-bats against what had been a hot reliever in Soria, putting up three singles and two walks against him before Miguel Cabrera drove in two runs on a single up the middle against Matt Strahm.
"Heads weren't hanging or anything like that," said Alex Presley, who hit a tying RBI single in the rally. "It was just, 'Let's put another inning together, go out and have some good at-bats.' And we were able to do that, string them together at the right time and regain the lead. It was positive."
Soria hadn't given up a run in nine innings and nine appearances since May 8. He gave up four earned runs for just the fifth time in 537 career appearances.
By the time the Tigers were done hitting, they plated more runs in one night than they did over their entire four-game series against the White Sox. They scored double-digit runs for the first time in two weeks since their extra-inning loss to the Orioles, and scored 10 in a nine-inning game for the first time since April 25.
It wasn't pretty, but they weren't looking for style points.
"I think we came in with the mentality to try to slow the game a little bit, don't try to do too much," Cabrera said, "because everybody here wants to hit the big hit, or with one swing, we want to score three runs."
The Tigers looked like a team trying to do that when they stranded two runners in the first and third innings against Royals starter Jason Hammel. Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez hit into outs with runners on first and second in the opening inning. Victor Martinez bounced out with runners at the corners in the third. But after Cabrera drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth, it was an opposite-field double from Victor Martinez that broke open the offense, setting up J.D. Martinez's homer to end an 0-for-14 slump.
"I think we're pushing too hard," Cabrera said. "It might not seem like that from the outside, but I feel it right here in the clubhouse and in the game, because I see everybody wants to do it. If I see anybody or if I see myself not do anything right, then I'll let you know it's our fault. But everybody tries hard. Everybody wants to do the job, but baseball's hard. It's a long season. I have faith we're going to come through this bad stretch and play better."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.