The excellent pitching line of Al Alburquerque in his big league debut: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0ER, 1 BB, 3K. He kept the Tigers in the game, giving them a chance to win late, which is something certain relievers had trouble doing earlier in the season.
What else could it be? It can be nothing other than Miguel Cabrera taking A's closer Brian Fuentes yard in the 9th, sending the game into extra innings at 1-1. Teams will never, ever learn. They are best off to just walk Cabrera in every single at bat. Otherwise he's going to hurt you, and hurt you bad. It's not a matter of if, but when. We saw it again tonight. You pitch to Cabrera, you deal with the consequences.
After the scary start to the season, losing three consecutive series, and bottoming out at 3-7, the Tigers have won four in a row. They have scratched and clawed their way back to .500. I'm beginning to feel better about this team. Funny my good feelings coincided with some solid starting pitching, huh?
Speaking of solid starting pitching, I didn't think we were going to see it from Rick Porcello after a shaky first three innings. Ramon Santiago bailed him out, turning a pair of double plays. Kid Rick settled down after his very inefficient start to throw six innings of one run ball. Most impressively, Porcello stranded an A's leadoff double in the 6th, striking out Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui to end the threat. Not getting that run across was the difference between winning and losing for the A's.
After getting scoreless 7th and 8th innings from Al Alburquerque in his 1st MLB appearance, I thought Jim Leyland sending the rookie back out for a 3rd inning was pushing his luck, in a big way. Then I remembered it's Jim Leyland, it's what he does. Just as I was afraid of, Alburquerque walked the first batter he faced in the 9th. I never would have forgiven Leyland if that runner had come around to score. (Brayan Villarreal finally ended the threat, forcing Mark Ellis to line into a double play to...who else but Santiago, who flashed leather all night long) Regardless, it was a great outing for Alburquerque. I hope it bodes good things for his, and the bullpen's, future.
Once the game went into extras, the big hit came off the bat off Brennan Boesch. With the bases loaded in the 10th on an error and a pair of walks (There's A's pitching for you, just a bunch of givers!), the free swinging outfielder lined an ankle high (That crazy Brennan, he'll swing at anything!) 0-2 pitch off the right field wall for a two RBI double. The Tigers ultimately batted around, scoring seven runs, breaking open what had been a tense, tight game. You could hear a sigh of relief throughout all of Tigers Nation.
And I have to send out BYB congratulations to Jim Leyland on winning the 1500th game of his long and storied career (though some would say he's done it in spite of himself). The Marlboro Man shrugged it off in the post game, saying "It just means we're old."
Old or not, 1500 managerial wins in the bigs remains an impressive accomplishment.