- Associated Press - Friday, July 29, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - Tyler Collins knows the clock is ticking on his stay in the major leagues.

With J.D Martinez nearing a return from a fractured elbow, Collins is trying to find ways to extend his stay beyond the next few days.

Friday, he hit a three-run homer in the second inning, then tripled and scored in the fifth as the Detroit Tigers beat the Houston Astros 14-6.

“That’s what you dream about at night - having a big game and getting the offense off and rolling,” he said. “It’s good to be part of it.”

Collins started the season with the Tigers after Cameron Maybin broke his wrist, but was sent down in disgrace in late April. Not only was he hitting .100 with one extra-base hit, he made an obscene gesture at the fans after misplaying a fly ball.

He didn’t help himself by going to Triple-A Toledo and hitting .214, but when Martinez got hurt and Steven Moya couldn’t handle the defensive responsibilities of right field, he got the call.

Since his return, he’s hitting .276 with three homers and eight RBIs in nine games.

“The better he plays, the more we have to think about keeping him,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He’s learning to slow the game down a little bit.”

Justin Upton and James McCann also homered, while Cameron Maybin had three hits and scored three times for the Tigers, who were coming off a three-game sweep at Fenway Park. Detroit moved a half-game behind Houston, with both chasing Boston for the second AL wild-card spot.

The hot streak could turn the Tigers into buyers at the trade deadline.

“Let’s put it this way - it certainly doesn’t help if we keep winning,” Ausmus said. “There’s no question about that.”

Houston got homers from Jose Altuve and Jake Marisnek, but lost for the third time in four games.

Matt Boyd (2-2) picked up the win, allowing three runs on four hits in five innings. He walked one while striking out six. Boyd is 2-0 in his last three starts after going 0-2 in his first six.

“It was awesome to get that kind of offense,” Boyd said. “I was all over the place in the first two innings, but I ironed out the issues and got things fixed.”

Collin McHugh (7-7) went to the mound with a 2-0 lead, but didn’t make it out of the second inning. He allowed eight runs on 10 hits while only retiring five batters.

“That’s obviously not a great way to start the game,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We got the quick 2-0 lead, and then we’re down seven after the second. We battled all night, but that’s a big hole.”

Boyd struck out George Springer to start the game, but Marwin Gonzalez doubled and Altuve lined his 18th homer into the right-field stands. Detroit, though, tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Miguel Cabrera and an RBI single from Nick Castellanos.

Maybin’s two-run double put the Tigers ahead 4-2 in the second, and Cabrera followed with a run-scoring single. Castellanos beat out a two-out infield single to score Cabrera with Detroit’s sixth run.

“They just never let me up for air,” McHugh said. “If I made a good pitch, they got a bat on it, and if I missed my spot at all, they hit it hard. That wasn’t how I envisioned this game going.”

Chris Devenski replaced McHugh after Upton’s single, and immediately allowed a three-run homer to Collins.

The Tigers led 13-3 after seven, but the Astros scored three runs off Tigers mop-up relievers Mark Lowe and Dustin Molleken.


Astros: 1B Gonzalez left the game with a sore right hand, but it isn’t considered serious. … Houston placed INF Luis Valbuena on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring and recalled INF Tyler White from Triple-A Fresno. … CF Carlos Gomez did not start after leaving Wednesday’s game with a strained hamstring. He’s expected to miss the entire weekend series in Detroit.

Tigers: Martinez and RHP Jordan Zimmermann (neck) were both on rehab duty Friday with Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers are hoping to have both players back before the end of the current nine-game homestand.


Astros starting pitcher Doug Fister isn’t with the team this weekend, as his wife is expected to give birth to the couple’s first child. Fister pitched for the Tigers from 2011-13.


McHugh came into the night having posted a 2.49 ERA in his last seven starts, with the Astros going 6-1 in those games. The eight runs allowed tied a career record, last done on June 13, 2015 against Seattle.


The teams continue their three-game series Saturday evening, with Justin Verlander (10-6, 3.64) facing Mike Fiers (7-4, 4.69). Verlander is 3-0 in six career starts against Houston with a 2.06 ERA.

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