DETROIT, MI - JUNE 02: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers hits a solo home run in the fourth inning during the game against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park on June 2, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Omir Santos' sacrifice fly brought home Brennan Boesch to give the Detroit Tigers a 4-3 walk off victory over the New York Yankees. Jose Valverde blew the save, bur tossed a hitless 9th inning to vulture his 3rd win of the season.. David Phelps took the loss, falling to 1-2 on the season. Miguel Cabrera led the Tigers' offense with a pair of home runs, 3 hits, and 2 RBI. Eric Chavez had 2 hits for the Yankees.
After Rick Porcello stranded a pair of Yankees in scoring position in the top of the 1st, the Tigers decided to match squander with squander, with the help of a bunt and a rain delay. Quintin Berry led off with a walk, then stole 2nd without a throw. Jim Leyland then had Danny Worth bunt Berry to 3rd base. Yes, a 1st inning sacrifice bunt. Then the rains came.
After 39 minute minute delay, Cabrera swung at Kuroda's first pitch, popping it up. Fielder then hit a rocket of a liner...directly at Mark Teixeira at 1st base. Inning over after 45 minutes.
In the 3rd, Porcello stranded Curtis Granderson at 2nd after he was mistakenly called safe stealing. At least this bad call didn't come back to hurt the Tigers. In the bottom of the inning, Robinson Cano's nice running catch on Danny Worth's 2 out dying quail kept the Tigers off the scoreboard.
The Tigers countered Cano's catch with an even better one by Don Kelly. Teixeia was robbed of a home run in the 4th as Kelly leaped high above the left field fence to bring back a fly ball with HR written all over it. The denied run would become huge later on in the evening.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the 4th, in spectacular fashion. Cabrera absolutely crushed a Kuroda pitch to dead center, the ball landing high up in the ivy just underneath the Chevrolet sign. The Tigers estimated the ball traveled 436 feet, ESPN Stats and Info crunched the numbers, and came up with what I think is a more realistic 466 feet. All I can say is Cabrera's home run ball went insanely damn far.
Prince Fielder followed with a line double to left. You had the feeling the Tigers had Kuroda on the ropes. Your feeling was wrong. Delmon Young and Boesch grounded out, and Jhonny Peralta struck out looking.
The Tigers continued missing out on the big inning, scoring 1 run in the 5th. Leading off, Don Kelly singled, advancing to 2nd on Santos' sac bunt. Berry remains ridiculously hot, drilling an RBI single to right for the Tigers' 2nd run. Unfortunately, Berry was picked off, despite replays showing he was, of course, safe.
The Yankees decided to make a game of it in the 6th. Cano walked, then aggressively took 3rd on Teixeira's single. Berry overthrew the cutoff man trying to peg Cano, allowing Teixeira to take 2nd. Cano scored on a Raul Ibanez ground out. But Porcello got out of the inning without further damage by striking out Nick Swisher.
Porcello's night ended after 6 innings and 99 pitches. You knew he was in for a good night when the Yankees were pounding his pitches into the ground early and often. Porcello allowed just 1 run on 6 hits, a walk and 3 strike outs.
In the bottom of the inning, Cabrera smoked a double to center, but any shot at a rally ended because of...Cabrera. He was was thrown out at 3rd trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt. Will someone please tell Cabrera he's not fast?
The Yankees threatened again in the 7th. Phil Coke took over for Porcello, and immediately allowed singles to Andruw Jones and Russell Martin. Out came Leyland, in went Joaquin Benoit. Derek Jeter bunted the runners over. but Benoit came through in a big, big way, striking out Granderson and getting Alex Rodriguez to pop up weakly to short right. Who knew using one of your best relievers in a high leverage situation an inning earlier than normal would work?
But the bullpen couldn't come through in the 8th, thanks to a pair of their bugaboos; walks and defense. With Octavio Dotel on the mound, Teixeira walked with 1 out. Late inning walks are never a good thing. Ibanez then hit a 1 hopper back to Dotel, setting up a tailor made 1-6-3 double play. But he couldn't handle ball cleanly, and settled for the out at 1st. The misplay came back to bite Dotel when Swisher's 2 out single tied the game at 2-2. Once again their knack for not turning the double play heavily cost the Tigers.
Were the Tigers in trouble? Not with Miguel Cabrera due up. As if to prove his first home run wasn't a fluke, Cabrera smote Cory Wade's breaking ball high and far over the wall in dead center, and into the camera well just under the Chevy sign. Estimated length was freaking damn far! OK, it had to be in the 430-440 foot range. Cabrera's power shrinks the wide expanses of Comerica Park to something similar to a softball field.
Game over, right? Wrong. As you already know, it's never easy for the Tigers. Fans bucked up and put on a helmet, ready for a wild ride.
Valverde, his freaky goatee making him look like a Big Sweet Potato, came on to close out the Yankees. A 1-2-3 inning was not on tap. Valverde hit the .184 hitting Martin with his first pitch. Dewayne Wise entered as a pinch runner, and stole 2nd. Jeter was going to bunt Wise over, but Valverde, unable to throw strikes, walked him instead.
Expecting the worst, Valverde actually induced Granderson to fly out to short center. Great! So to move the runners over, the Yankees easily pulled off a double steal. Not so great.
Throwing gas on an already roaring flame, Valverde hit Rodriguez on his heavily armored elbow to lead the bases. At that point, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were all but begging Leyland to pull Valverde.
A jam shot on Cano forced an easy pop up and the infield fly rule for the 2nd out. But always the drama potato, Valverde went to 3-0 on Teixeira, then 3-2. Teixiera finally walked on a pitch in the dirt, and the boos rained down from the Comerica stands as the tying run scored.
After Santos just plain whiffed on catching a foul pop, Ibanez mercifully ended the inning by grounding out. The Yankees tied the score without benefit of a hit. But they did get the benefit of 2 hit batters, 3 stolen bases, a walk and a free run. But Valverde didn't give up a hit during his meltdown, so there's that...
The Tigers refused to give up, and came storming back. With Phelps now on the mound, Boesch singled with 1 out. Jhonny Peralta looped a liner into the right field corner sending Boesch to 3rd. Swisher's barehanded stab of the ball the only thing keeping Peralta at 1st base, and from a game winning double. The Yankees brought in Boone Logan from the pen, so Leyland looked at his bench, saw Ramon Santiago sitting all by his lonesome, and sent him up to pinch hit for Kelly. Santiago worked a 2-0 count, so the Yankees intentionally walked him, loading the bases in order to face Santos.
Santos, the 3rd string catcher who wouldn't even be on the roster today if Gerald Laird hadn't been injured, came through with a sac fly to right, bringing home Boesch with the game winning run. Omir Santos, hero for a day!
What could have been the worst loss of the season somehow became an uplifting victory, considering the Tigers' makeshift, injury wracked lineup. It was wild. It was ridiculous. It was exhausting. But it was a win.