KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch pushed the right button at the right time when he brought Zack Short off the bench in Wednesday’s series finale at Kauffman Stadium.
The Kansas City Royals had left-handed reliever Josh Taylor on the mound in the sixth inning. Hinch countered by pinch-hitting Short, despite his limited opportunities this season, for Akil Baddoo.
Short, a right-handed hitter, swung at a first-pitch slider and cranked a three-run home run to left-center field. The Tigers won, 6-4, and took two of three games in the series from the Royals.
TWO KIDS AND A VET: Tigers finding consistent success in May with this three-player recipe in the batting order
THE APPROACH: Planning for quality plate appearances is deceptively simple: ‘Get a good pitch to hit’
Entering Wednesday’s game, Short was hitting .250 with one home run, three walks and 10 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances. He had played in 15 of the Tigers’ 22 games since being promoted April 29 from Triple-A Toledo.
He started six of those 15 games.
The Tigers (22-25) benefitted from Short’s presence on the roster, and Hinch’s chess match expertise, in the pinch-hit situation. His 416-foot home run put the Tigers ahead, 4-1, in the sixth inning.
After the Royals trimmed the lead to three runs, Jonathan Schoop helped put the series finale out of reach in the eighth inning. He hit a two-run double off right-handed reliever Nick Wittgren to left-center field — driving in Spencer Torkelson (double) and Short (walk) — to extend the Tigers’ advantage to 6-2.
Those were Schoop’s first RBIs of the 2023 season in his 79th plate appearance.
He hadn’t driven in a run since Sept. 29, 2022.
The Royals scored two runs in the seventh and eighth innings, one each against left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve to make the score 4-2 and right-hander Jason Foley to make it 6-3.
Righty Alex Lange struggled in the ninth inning but limited the damage to one run on Bobby Witt Jr.’s sacrifice fly, making it 6-4. He stranded a runner on second base and notched his ninth save.
Oh, that bullpen
Left-hander Matthew Boyd dominated through three innings before bending in the fourth and nearly breaking in the fifth. He left runners on the corners for right-handed reliever Will Vest with two outs.
The 32-year-old walked two batters and hit another batter for a total of three free passes. A one-out double and a two-out walk forced Boyd’s exit and put Vest in an uncomfortable situation coming out of the bullpen.
Escaping the jam, thanks to Vest, looked easy. Witt swung at a first-pitch fastball and lined out to right field.
JEFF SEIDEL: What’s blocking Tigers’ .500 quest? Blame bad luck, but it’s really the bats
RILEY RULES: In May, Riley Greene is carrying the Tigers and finally unlocking pull-side power
Boyd allowed one run on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts across 4⅔ innings, throwing 52 of 86 pitches for strikes. He loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning and limited the damage to one run.
After MJ Melendez’s force out drove in a run, Freddy Fermin struck out swinging on Boyd’s slider to conclude the fourth. The slider, which averaged 81 mph, was thrown 41% of the time and generated 10 of 15 whiffs.
Boyd retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced.
A Greene monster
Facing right-hander Zack Greinke, the Tigers scored their first run in the top of the fourth inning.
Riley Greene received a fifth-pitch sinker at the top of the strike zone, and his swing produced a 112.6 mph exit velocity. The ball traveled 440 feet to right-center field for a solo home run.
It was Greene’s fifth homer in 2023 and his third homer in May. Greene, a left-handed hitter, has hit all three of those homers to the right side of the field, a positive sign as he aims to tap into his power potential.
STOCK WATCH: Eduardo Rodriguez still soaring, Miguel Cabrera, Jonathan School, Nick Maton dropping
THEY’RE HERE: How Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene plan to be ‘unstoppable’ together
Greinke allowed one run on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts, throwing 60 of 91 pitches for strikes. He pitched in the 567th game of his 20-year MLB career and has a 4.55 ERA in 11 starts this season.
The 39-year-old recorded nine whiffs and 19 called strikes. His fastball and sinker were his most effective pitches.
Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Zack Short blasts Detroit Tigers to 6-4 win over Kansas City Royals