DETROIT | Let’s just say Mike Jacobs was overdue.
So when he unloaded on a Fernando Rodney changeup in the ninth inning Monday night and sent a towering homer into the right-field, well, the Royals can only hope it’s the start of something good.
Jacobs’ homer provided the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
It was his first homer in 73 at-bats dating to June 5 in Toronto. So, naturally, the Royals, in the time-honored tradition, went into silent mode when Jacobs returned to the dugout.
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“I looked up and thought, `Man, where’d everybody go?’” he said. “Right away, I recognized what they were doing. It was pretty cool.”
Jacobs responded by high-fiving the air.
“I’ve got to play along with them,” he said. “It just felt good to finally do something to help this team.”
The homer was his 11th of the season, snapped a 3-3 tie and boosted the Royals to their third straight victory. It also moved them, at 36-46, back to within eight games of first-place Detroit, 44-38, in the American League Central Division.
Until Jacobs’ blast, the Royals’ attack consisted primarily of Willie Bloomquist, who had a homer in the sixth inning that erased a 1-0 deficit and a two-run triple that provided a 3-2 lead in the eighth.
“I’m not even in that situation if not for Bloomy having the night that he had,” Jacobs said. “When he hit that homer, he came into the dugout yelling to everybody that he’d just hit his career high in homers. Then he hits a two-run triple.”
The homer was Bloomquist’s second of the year, which matched a career high set in 2004 and repeated in 2007. He now has 14 in 1,456 career at-bats. His triple was his third hit of the game and came on a 98-mph fastball from reliever Joel Zumaya.
“It’s kind of nice,” Bloomquist said, “not having to steal second and steal third to get into scoring position. With Zumaya, he throws gas. He supplies all of the power. The ball got in the gap.”
The Tigers pulled even against Roman Colon in their eighth before Jacobs produced the game-winner by crushing a 1-1 changeup from Rodney with one out in the ninth.
“It has been a while,” Jacobs said. “It’s been a long while. Obviously, it felt real good.”
Joakim Soria made it three saves in three days by working through the Tigers in their ninth inning. Colon, 1-0, got the victory after blowing a save in the eighth inning.
Rodney, 0-2, was the loser.
Detroit put the tying run aboard in the ninth inning when Gerald Laird’s sharp one-out grounder ate up shortstop Tony Peña, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement.
That single snapped a streak of 14 straight hitters retired by Soria over his last five appearances. Soria shrugged it off by striking out pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago and Curtis Granderson.
Detroit built leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against Royals starter Gil Meche by sandwiching Bloomquist’s homer with a pair of solo blasts: Marcus Thames led off the second inning with a boomer before Ryan Raburn hit a two-out shot in the sixth.
“I had (allowed) just two home runs in 14 starts,” Meche said. “Now, I’ve given up seven home runs in my last four. They’re coming in bunches. I’m not bouncing pitches when I need to.
“Both of those pitches, I was trying to bounce. Both on 2-2 counts. They were corner away but thigh high, up enough to where they could just get out there and hook it.”
Raburn’s homer came after Bloomquist tied the game earlier in the inning and so annoyed Meche that he walked the next two hitters, which pushed his pitch count to 114 and forced his exit.
Juan Cruz stranded both runners and worked a one-two-three seventh. He was positioned for the victory before the Tigers scored against Colon.
Detroit starter Armando Galarraga settled for a no-decision after limiting the Royals to one run and five hits in seven innings.
Zumaya inherited a 2-1 lead to start the eighth, but the Royals stirred immediately when Miguel Olivo produced a leadoff single. A walk to David DeJesus preceded Bloomquist’s triple into the right-center gap.
The Royals stranded Bloomquist at third with one out, which proved costly when Raburn delivered an RBI double against Colon.
But it all simply set the stage for Jacobs.
“I’ve been struggling so much this year,” he said, “and I’m working my (backside) off trying to get back to what this team thought it was getting when it traded for me. Hopefully, it’s something that’s going to get me going.”
To reach Bob Dutton, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.