Bullpen comes through in Detroit Tigers’ rout of Kansas City

Tigers catcher James McCann, left, and manager Brad Ausmus bump fists before the start of their game against the Kansas City Royals in Detroit on Tuesday. (AP photo)

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers had to make an unexpected pitching change just minutes into Tuesday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals.

But that didn’t phase the Tigers, who got two home runs apiece from JaCoby Jones and John Hicks in a 13-2 victory. Detroit hit six homers in all, knocking Kansas City starter Jason Vargas out after just two innings.

The Tigers set a season-high for home runs and snapped a five-game losing streak.

“We needed it,” said Hicks, who finished with three hits, four RBIs and a walk. “It’s a whole different feeling in here after a win. It had been a rough stretch, and we came out here and scored runs.”

Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez, who recently came off the disabled list with a hamstring injury, threw only five pitches in the first inning and got hit by leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield’s single. Sanchez, who was charged with one earned run when Merrifield later scored, left the game with a right calf contusion.

“First of all, you want to be able to make it through the game. You want to be able to get enough innings from the ‘pen,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “If this wasn’t September, that would be a much larger issue.”

Reliever Myles Jaye (1-0) replaced Sanchez and pitched 2 1/3 innings. He allowed one hit, two walks and a wild pitch, leaving in the third inning with the Tigers holding a 7-1 lead.

“It was definitely weird,” Royals centerfielder Lorenzo Cain said of the early pitching change. “When you look at video all day, you’re studying Sanchez. For him to get knocked out in the first inning, I didn’t really know much about the other guy. You just go on the fly.”

After the Royals took a 1-0 lead on Melky Cabrera’s fielder’s choice, it was all Tigers.

Detroit scored seven runs in the second inning to take command. Jeimer Candelario had a two-run double, followed by Alex Presley’s RBI single, Jones’ two-run homer and Mikie Mahtook’s two-run homer.

Hicks’ two-run homer in the fourth made it 9-1 and Jose Iglesias’ solo shot in the fifth pushed it to 10-1. Jones had his second homer, a solo blast, in the seventh, and Hicks hit another home run in the eighth.

“You’ve got a lot of guys in here fairly new to this, and guys who are fighting to make the team for next year, trying to make an impression,” Hicks said. “To have everyone play a part, that’s huge.”