DETROIT (AP) — Thursday night was supposed to be a celebration for the Detroit Tigers.
J.J. Hardy stole the show.
Hardy homered, scored twice and had 10 assists at shortstop as the Baltimore Orioles ruined the Tigers’ homecoming with a 6-5 victory.
“J.J. Hardy put on a clinic tonight,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “It is hard to imagine a shortstop playing at a higher (level) than he is.”
Although Adam Jones didn’t put on quite as much of a defensive show as Hardy, he did more than his fair share in the victory.
Jones also homered and scored twice, plus he threw out Miguel Cabrera at the plate in the second inning.
“When a guy gets on second, I’ll usually give them a wave to let them know I’m out there,” he said. “Miguel wanted to score, and I wanted to prevent it.”
Showalter thought Matt Wieters deserved some of the credit for hanging in to put the tag on Cabrera, who didn’t slide on the play.
“Let’s think about the intestinal fortitude it takes to have Cabrera bearing down on you and he’s down there on one knee,” Showalter said.
Back home from a road trip during which they clinched their first division title since 1987, were given a standing ovation when they took the field for the first inning. The crowd of 28,847, though, was the smallest at Comerica Park since June 29.
Detroit is trying to stay ahead of Texas for the second best record in the American League, which would allow them to host Boston in the first round instead of going to New York.
“We’re out here to win games,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We want to stay ahead of Texas, because if there’s going to be a Game 5, we want it in front of our fans.”
Baltimore starter Zach Britton (11-10) got the win despite blowing the 5-0 lead his teammates had built against Turner.
Britton gave up five runs, six hits and four walks in five innings.
“I didn’t remember that I had a five-run lead, and I didn’t stay aggressive,” Britton said. “I didn’t really factor into this win — I couldn’t hold the lead, but they happened to get that sixth run.”
Vladimir Guerrero’s RBI single scored Hardy in the first, and Hardy’s 29th homer made it 2-0 in the third.
Detroit tied the game with four runs in the fifth, including a long three-run homer by Delmon Young, but Baltimore went back up in the sixth when Reimold beat out a two-out infield single off David Pauley (5-6).
Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth for his 21st save.
With the Tigers juggling their rotation to get things into place for the postseason, Jacob Turner found himself making his third career start. Turner lasted just three-plus innings, allowing five runs and seven hits, including long homers by Hardy and Jones.
“That wasn’t fair to Jacob, but it was something we felt we had to do to get our pitching staff set up,” Leyland said. “That’s a start that I’m going to discard right away. He was obviously rusty, and there was no way around it. We got home at three in the morning, and the Orioles are playing well. Give them credit.”
Matt Wieters started the fourth with a single off Turner, and Jones gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead with his 24th homer. A walk and an error ended Turner’s night, and Reimold brought home Baltimore’s fifth run with a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Victor Martinez grounded into a double play with runners on the corners.
In the eighth, Miguel Cabrera got to third base, but Pedro Strop struck out Ryan Raburn to end the inning.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)