Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 4/29/13
DETROIT -- Andy Dirks had been missing in action during the first month of the season, but the left fielder put a jolt into the Tigers on Monday night. Dirks got Detroit on the scoreboard with his first homer of the season, a solo shot in the third, then started the game-winning, sixth-inning rally with a perfect bunt single. The highlight reel hit will be Prince Fielders majestic, three-run homer near the flagpole at Comerica Park. But make no mistake about it, the best thing about the 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins was Dirks. He was batting .167, and had scored one run and knocked in one run over the last two weeks. The right knee he banged up running into the outfield wall in Lakeland, Fla., late in spring training was getting worse, even causing him to limp. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had seen enough of Dirks trying to play through it. Leyland gave him four games off, and Dirks said he felt better each day with a new strengthening program also paying dividends. Being able to fire off your legs helps, Dirks said. It makes your swing better ... and thats the best Ive felt since I ran into the wall in spring training. So the dependable .322 hitter of 2012 showed the first signs of doing what he did last year, when he scored 56 runs and knocked in 35 in just 88 games. Weve got to get him going, Leyland said. The home run he hit was terrific dont get me wrong but I really loved the bunt single. That was pure baseball: take what youre given. Leyland said Dirks saw third baseman Trevor Plouffe playing back, knew Miguel Cabrera and Fielder were coming up, and dropped the bunt. It was the product of a simple principle preached from the first day of spring training on the back fields at Tiger Town. It worked because Dirks deadened the ball and placed it where catcher Joe Mauer had no play upon picking it up. I was trying to get on base for the big guys, said Dirks, batting No. 2 with Torii Hunter getting the night off. With nobody out, Im trying to get on base any way I can. Cabrera walked and Fielder crushed the first pitch from Mike Pelfrey to win the game. Thats the big boys doing what they do, Dirks said. Its amazing how hard he can hit the ball. Championship teams are made up of big boys and dependable players who know their roles. Dirks is one of those integral lineup parts a manager can count on. Leyland pointed out that the success of the bunt was twofold. He said Plouffe will be playing in much closer the next time Dirks leads off an inning, making it easier to get a single through the hole or a double down the line. All these basic principles of smart play pay off by greatly increasing the odds of success, and Dirks applied another winning principle one pitch earlier. He went back to tag up on a long foul pop up by Cabrera that the Twins could not reach. Had it been caught, Dirks knew second baseman Brian Dozier was sprinting with his back to second. He could not have gotten anything on the ball, and Dirks would have tagged and been in scoring position. It was another example of Dirks thinking the game on every pitch. After all the talk about his bunt, Dirks was asked about his homer halfway up the right-field grandstands. My swings been feeling a little better in the cage, said Dirks, who credited hitting coach Lloyd McClendon and assistant hitting coach Toby Harrah for some minor adjustments. Dirks also said that the banged up knee played a role in holding him back, then noted that Monday's success was only one game. True. But it was one game in the win column, thanks to Dirks.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Eight most overpaid offensive players in NFL

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker