Baseball

Jones helps fuel Tigers’ 3-2 win over Royals

Before Wednesday night's game, Ron Gardenhire had a talk with JaCoby Jones.

After hitting so well over the past three weeks, Jones was moved up nine spots in the batting order against the Royals, all the way up to leadoff.

Permanent? To be determined. An opportunity, with Niko Goodrum out? Absolutely.

Gardenhire's message was simple: Don't change a thing.

Jones listened.

Leading off the top of the eighth inning, Jones walked and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Dixon to give the Tigers a 3-2 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Jones walked, Christin Stewart doubled and Nicholas Castellanos walked, loading the bases with nobody out. After Miguel Cabrera struck out looking, Dixon hit a long fly ball to right field, easily scoring Jones from third base.

Left-hander Daniel Norris took a no-decision, allowing two runs on six hits in five innings. Norris was solid – he struck out six batters and walked two.

After the Tigers took the lead in the eighth, Joe Jimenez pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Shane Greene pitched a scoreless ninth for his American League-leading 20th save.

Here are three observations from the Tigers' win:

1. Norris' night: Similar to Spencer Turnbull on Tuesday night, Norris didn't have much trouble with the Royals – except on the basepaths. They ran wild on him, stealing four bases, but Norris was able to escape damage. He twice pitched out of two-out, multiple men on base situations and was particularly impressive in the fourth inning, striking out the side. Jorge Soler drove in a pair of runs against him, but Norris did a nice job.

2. Just enough: Again, the Tigers didn't do much offensively, but they were rewarded with situational hitting. Cabrera opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right field in the first inning, they took the lead back on back-to-back doubles by John Hicks and Ronny Rodriguez in the fourth, and pulled ahead on Dixon's sacrifice fly in the eighth. Dixon just missed a bigger hit: The ball died right before the right field fence. It wasn't spectacular, but the Tigers got the job done.

3. In the eighth: Jimenez, who had been temporarily removed from his set-up man role for a second time this season recently, was back out there. For Gardenhire, it's impossible to fully stay away from Jimenez, especially with an under-manned bullpen facing a bullpen day on Saturday. Jimenez was impressive, throwing mid-90 mph fastballs and sharp sliders. He was helped out by Dawel Lugo, who made an impressive barehand play to throw out speedster Billy Hamilton on a bunt.

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