ALDS Game 4 - Tigers 8, A's 6: Tigers stave off elimination, force Game 5

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Down 3-0 and on the verge of elimination, the Tigers rallied from behind to send the ALDS to a Game 5. Asked to save the the Tigers' season, Max Scherzer earned the win with two innings of relief. It's not over till it's over. And it's not over.


Final - 10.8.2013 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland Athletics 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 2 6 12 0
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 3 0 2 3 X 8 9 0
WP: Max Scherzer (2 - 0)
LP: Sean Doolittle (0 - 1)

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The Detroit Tigers' offense had scored in just two of 31 innings against the Oakland Athletics before exploding for nine hits and eight runs in their final four at-bats, sending the ALDS back to California for a winner-take-all Game 5 with an 8-6 win. The Tigers had to withstand an A's ninth-inning rally which brought the game-tying run to the plate before staving off elimination.

Controversially, a seventh-inning home run by Victor Martinez was touched by fans reaching over the outfield railing. Upon video review, the home run call was upheld.

Post game, Jim Leyland confirmed Game 2 starter Justin Verlander would get the starting nod in Game 5.

Max Scherzer was supposed to be the Tigers' starter in Game 5. Leyland elected to to use his ace in Game 4 as a reliever, earning the win with two innings of one-run relief. It wasn't easy for Scherzer, who pulled off the greatest Houdini act of the playoffs so far by pitching out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the eighth.

Tigers' starter Doug Fister was in trouble early with an elevated pitch count, but managed to pitch six full innings, allowing three runs while scattering seven hits. Tigers' closer Joaquin Benoit pitched the ninth in a non-save situation, allowing a pair of runs.

A's starter Dan Straily dominated the Tigers in the early going with four no-hit innings. The rookie right-hander would ultimately pitch six innings, giving up three runs on just four hits, striking out eight. The normally solid Sean Doolittle was the loser in relief, allowing two runs on three hits in just 2/3 of an inning.

"That home run right there, it couldn't have come at a better time. It couldn't have happened to a better guy." -Austin Jackson on Jhonny Peralta

The Tigers' long dormant offense busted out in a big way, scoring more runs after the fifth inning than they had in the previous three games. Looking for offense, Jim Leyland gave Jhonny Peralta the start in left. Offense is just what he gave the Tigers, drilling a game-tying three-run homer in the fifth. Victor Martinez went deep for one of his three hits, tying the game in the seventh. Austin Jackson snapped out of a massive slump with an RBI single in the seventh, giving the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish. Omar Infante added a two-run double in the eighth, which would turn out to be the winning margin.

The A's were led by long-time Tiger Killer Coco Crisp, who had four hits, three runs scored and an RBI. Jed Lowrie had two hits, one a home run, driving in three. Yoenis Cespedes added two hits and two RBIs.

WOW. What a game.

This performance should be used as "exhibit A" as to why we should never give up on this Tigers team.

The series seemed all but over. Fister was battling with his command, putting the Tigers in the hole. Peralta looked like an infielder who should be nowhere near the outfield. A rookie was no-hitting them. They couldn't buy a hit to save their season.  Jackson was being booed mercilessly as the strikeouts mounted. The A's were up 3-0, in complete control and just 4 1/2 innings away from heading to the ALCS.

Gloom and doom dominated. I have to admit, I was mentally preparing for the season to end.

Next thing you know,  the Tigers have staved off elimination in a marvelously entertaining (if you aren't a fan of the A's or Tigers, that is) game which will be talked about for some time to come.

When will I ever learn? The Tigers may not be the prettiest team, or the most dominant team, or even the best team. But they sure as Hell are a team which will never, ever quit.

The A's found that out back in August when the Tigers walked off after a ridiculous comeback. They were force-fed a reminder tonight. Thanks to the Tigers' resiliency, the ALDS has become a one-game playoff.

More Detroit Tigers post season news and views: BYB's complete ALDS coverage

Lead-off man Coco Crisp makes the A's go. He got them off to a fast start by lining Doug Fister's second pitch of the game into the left-center-field gap. A more experienced outfielder cuts the ball off. Jhonny Peralta is not an experienced outfielder. He took a bad route, allowing the ball to roll to the fence. Aware of Peralta's infielder's arm, Crisp never stopped running until he slid into third base.

One down and the infield pulled in, Jed Lowrie slashed a ground ball through the left side, his first hit of the series good for an RBI single (MLB.com video). Three batters into the game, the A's had a 1-0 lead. As effective as the A's pitching had been over the first three games, you had to wonder if one run was more than enough to end the Tigers' season.

Fister pitched out of further trouble, but the A's made him work hard to do so. Their plate discipline led to a 26-pitch inning for the Tigers' starter.

Conversely, Dan Straily didn't even work up a sweat in a ten-pitch bottom of the first.

Austin Jackson was loudly booed in his first bat. Ahead in the count 2-0 on Straily, he proceeded to strike out ... again. It was his eighth whiff in 12 ALDS at-bats. Torii Hunter did the same, fishing for a pitch in the dirt. Two down, Miguel Cabrera's injury came to the fore again, flying out to the warning track in deep right center. Six weeks ago, that ball is well over the scoreboard. Today, it's the third out of the inning.

Cabrera's injury has completely changed the complexion of this Tigers team and their season for the worse.

Fister continued to struggle with his location in the second, unable to get the ball down. Seth Smith led off with a line shot to center, Fister narrowly avoiding a shot to the head. Fister exacerbated his troubles by wild pitching Smith to second. Josh Reddick moved Smith to third with a ground ball to the right side.

Two down and Smith still on third, Fister walked the A's number-nine hitter, Eric Sogard. Not a good plan of action when Crisp is the next batter. Fister dodged a large-caliber bullet when Crisp smoked a drive to right center, Hunter making an awkward running catch on the warning track.

Fister kept the confident swinging A's off the scoreboard, but his pitch count was already an elevated 50.

The Tigers' half of the second was just more of the same. Once again, the Tigers failed to make the A's rookie right-hander work in a nine-pitch inning. Prince Fielder did reach base when he took one for the team, plunked by Straily. But he was eliminated when Jhonny Peralta bounced into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

Fister looked more like his regular-season self in the top of the third. Yes, he allowed the lead-off hitter to reach. But this time it wasn't on a line drive, it was Josh Donaldson beating out a swinging bunt. The Tigers gave a nervous crowd reason to cheer when Fielder started a tough to turn 3-6-1 double play on Lowrie's ground ball.

Fister stuck out Brandon Moss on a nasty breaking ball to end his first relatively stress-free inning. Better, it was only nine pitches.

"We just kept battling away and battling away." "I'm sure the commissioner's happy we're going five." -Jim Leyland

Meanwhile, Straily was in cruise control, having faced the minimum through three innings. The Tigers weren't getting good swings, the vibe of a possible no-hitter was hanging in the air of a cool October night.

Next verse, same as the first ... and second ... and third ... and fourth. The Tigers went down in order again in the fifth. Jackson struck out for the ninth time in 13 at bats. Watching Jackson flail away so helplessly at the plate reminded me of Matt Tuiasosopo's second-half struggles. It's to the point where you are surprised when they make contact.

Top of five, Crisp reached base for a second time, singling to center with one out. He would ride home when Lowrie went yard, taking Fister over the wall in right. Hunter made a valiant effort, narrowly missing a highlight reel grab.

Hunter_medium

Instead Hunter of bringing the ball back, it was a two-run shot for Lowrie. The A's were now up 3-0, all three runs driven in by Lowrie.

Straily's no-hit bid ended after four innings. Fielder led off the fifth with a duck snort/bloop/Twins hit which dropped in shallow left. Martinez made it back-to-back singles, driving a ground ball through the right side. The Tigers had yet to hit a ball hard, but had two on with no one out.

Comerica Park finally stirring, just dying for something, anything to cheer for. Peralta had been inserted into the lineup for his bat, and just as yesterday, this was a tailor-made scenario for him.

The count 2-2, Straily's inside fastball found too much of the plate. Peralta crushed it. His line drive just cleared the left-field fence, bouncing off the roof of the bullpen as the crowd EXPLODED. With one swing of the bat, Peralta's three-run bomb had knotted the game at 3-all (MLB.com video).

Straily settled down after Peralta's Earl Weaver Special, retiring the next three Tigers in order. But the gloom had lifted. what had felt like fait accompli, a loss all but inevitable, was now a new game. The Tigers were ALIVE.

Top of six, Drew Smyly and Max Scherzer were warming up. But Fister had found his groove, recording his first 1-2-3 inning of the game. His pitch count at 104, Fister received the "Handshake of Doom" from Jim Leyland. His night was over after tossing a quality start -- a remarkable feat, considering his very shaky first two innings.

Scherzer was preparing to enter the game as the Tigers hit in the bottom half of the sixth. Jackson led off and...

He was now 1-for-14 with TEN strikeouts.

Cabrera extended the inning with a single. But Fielder, swinging from the heels, became Straily's eighth strikeout victim to end the sixth.

Scherzer had been scheduled to start Game 5, if needed. There being no tomorrow if the Tigers' fell to the A's, Leyland made the call.

The likely AL Cy Young winner took the mound to start the seventh. Let the second guessing commence.

Vogt greeted Scherzer with a hard single to center past a diving Omar Infante. A;s manager Bob Melvin elected to play for one run by having Sogard sacrifice the runner into scoring position.

And the God damn bunt worked.

Crisp slapped a 2-2 pitch to center, Vogt racing home to give the A's back the lead at 4-3.

Scherzer pitched out of further trouble, but he had coughed up the lead. It would be up to the Tigers' stone-cold offense to bail him out and send the series back to Oakland.

Bottom of the seventh, Melvin went with Sean Doolittle in relief, replacing Straily. The rookie right-hander had himself a marvelous game, holding the Tigers to four hits, striking out eight. He made just one mistake, but it was of the three-run variety to Peralta.

Speaking of mistakes...

Martinez jumped all over a Dootlittle's mid-90's fastball, lining it to deep right. Josh Reddick leaped, Tigers fans reached...

Homerun_medium

The ruling on the field was home run! But Reddick and Crisp immediately began pointing at the fans, claiming interference. Would the home run hold up under review?

Homerun2_medium

After a nerve-wracking delay with "Bartman'd" being thrown about, the word from the umpires was ... HOME RUN. The call on the field was upheld, and the game was knotted at 4-all (MLB.com video).

Peralta followed by ripping a ground ball inside the third-base bag, good for a stand-up double. Leyland asked Avila to lay one down. He failed miserably, fouling off a pair before striking out.

Infante hit a line shot to center, but it was right at Crisp for the second out. But Jose Iglesias managed to keep the inning alive, working a base on balls.

"You don't even know. I was just happy that it fell." -Jackson, when asked about a sense of relief after his base hit

But that meant ... GULP ... Austin Jackson.

Runners on first and second with two out, there was more of a feeling of dread than anything else. At the plate during the ALDS, Jackson had been ineffectual at best, God awful at worst.

The count 0-2, Jackson swung ... AND DIDN'T STRIKE OUT. His bat shattering in two and dying a hero, Jackson sent a humpback liner to short right which fell in front of a scrambling Reddick. Pinch-runner Andy Dirks crossed the plate with the lead run as Comerica Park went into utter hysterics.

Shockingly, stunningly, thankfully, the Tigers were up 5-4! (MLB.com video)

Jackson's completely unexpected RBI base hit ended Doolittle's night, replaced by Dan Otero. Hunter's bad ALDS continued, striking out to strand Iglesias 90 feet away.

That insurance run would have been nice. It would have been even nicer as Scherzer pitched into a heart-stopping bases loaded jam.

As always with scary innings, the hellfire started with a lead-off walk. Scherzer was having command issues, walking Moss. Cespedes didn't hit the ball hard, but in just the right spot, his fly ball to right finding green in the right-field corner. Hunter proceeded to kick the bouncing ball, ensuring Cespedes would reach second. It was ruled a double, but it was not played at all well by Hunter.

To set up a fielder's choice at any base, Smith was issued an intentional pass, loading the bases. Hell or high water, it Scherzer's game to win or lose.

"I thought he (Callaspo) got it down, I thought it was a hit, but Austin ran it down!" -Max Scherzer, when asked how he pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-one-out jam

Scherzer fell behind 3-0 to Reddick, then battled back to strike him out on a changeup which would have been ball four.  Scherzer got the second out of the inning by striking out Vogt swinging.

Number-nine hitter Sogard due at the plate, Melvin countered by going with a tough pinch-hitter in Alberto Callaspo. First pitch swinging, the sellout crowd holding their breath in unison, Callaspo just missed an extra base hit when his line drive to left landed a few feet foul. The mano-a-mano battle continued, Callaspo working the count full. Scherzer was forced to throw a strike, and did. Callaspo hit Scherzer's fastball square. It looked like a hit when it left the bat, but Jackson had a bead on the liner, running it down in left center to end the most stressful inning you may ever live through.

The sellout crowd went wild as the remainder of the Tigers' fan base collapsed in a stress-induced heap.

Dennis Eckersley on TBS:

"So you wanna be a relief pitcher?!"

Max Scherzer had just pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-one-out jam, holding the Tigers' one-run lead in a win-or-go-home elimination game. After what I've seen the past couple of innings, I don't EVER want to hear fans say this team doesn't have any heart.

Bottom of eighth, Ryan Cook was on the mound for the A's. Two down, Martinez reached base for the third time, singling to right. Dirks worked a walk, extending the inning.

Hoping to keep it a one-run game, Melvin replaced Cook with lefty Brett Anderson, making his first appearance of the series. He immediately made his presence felt, walking Avila on five pitches, loading the bases.

The count 0-1 to Infante, Anderson bounced a breaking ball in front of Vogt, who couldn't corral it. The ball skipped far enough away to allow pinch-runner Hernan Perez to score standing up. The Tigers had gotten a badly needed insurance run with a two-out rally, increasing their lead to 6-4.

Not letting a two-out RBI opportunity go to waste, Infante ripped a line shot down thew left field line. Dirks and Avila scored without a throw, Infante's huge two-out, two-RBI double giving the Tigers a far more comfortable 8-4 lead.

Top of nine and the game no longer a save situation, Joaquin Benoit took over for Scherzer. Ever the the Tiger Killer, Crisp led off with a single, his fourth base hit of the night.

It's never easy.

Donaldson, the A's MVP candidate, went down swinging for the first out of the ninth. But Benoit allowed his second base runner of the inning by walking Lowrie.

Nope, not easy at all.

Moss bounced to Fielder for the second out, the runners moving 90 feet. Cespedes would follow with a liner to center, two runs crossing the plate to make it an 8-6 game.

The A's had managed to bring the tying run to the plate in Smith.

It was now a "not fun" moment, Benoit needing to close out the A's. Smith wasn't going down without a fight. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Benoit got Smith to go fishing at a down-and-in breaking ball.

STRIKE THREE!

GAME OVER!

TIGERS WIN!

Your final score is Tigers 8, A's 6. Holy Mother of God, I aged 20 years in the final few innings. Another game like this and I may have to start planning funeral proceedings.

And we get to do it all over again in approximately 48 hours.

"We need another over-the-fence bat in our lineup." "That's what happened for us and he was huge." -Leyland on playing Peralta in left

Winner-take-all ALDS Game 5 in Oakland is a rematch of the Game 1 starters, the A's Bartolo Colon (0-1, 4.50 ERA)  facing the Tigers' Max Scherzer (1-0, 2.57) Justin Veralnder (no-decision in Game 2, 0.00 ERA)

Colon pitched very well in the series opener, shutting the Tigers out in innings two through six. But the Tigers hung a three spot on Colon in the first inning, which was one run too many. Colon pitched six innings in Game 1, scattering ten hits and striking out four while taking the loss.

With Scherzer asked to pitch in relief during Game 4, Verlander gets the Game 5 start in his stead. In Game 2, Verlander was his vintage self, tossing seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out 11. Verlander is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four career post season starts against the A’s.

First pitch at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is scheduled for 9 PM Eastern.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Frank Tanana, the crafty left-hander who beat the Blue Jays with a complete game on the last day of the 1987 season to give the Tigers an Eastern division title, threw out the first pitch. He had better stuff than Doug Fister.

TBS subjected us to an insipid Jim Leyland interview in the fourth.

Leyland_medium

Quote:

"Mumble, mumble, Straily's throwing strikes, mumble, mumble."

I was running out of words to describe Austin Jackson's plate appearances during the ALDS. So I asked Twitter for help. This was the only one which was safe for work.

Jhonny Peralta's fifth-inning home run was the first by a Tiger since Jackson, Omar Infante and Victor Martinez all went yard in the fourth inning against the Twins on September 24.

Peralta's big fly also tied him with Miguel Cabrera for the second most playoff home runs in Tigers' history with six. Of course, Mr. October, otherwise known as Delmon Young, holds the franchise record with eight.

Speaking of Cabrera, his single increased his streak to 28 consecutive postseason games reaching base safely, breaking an MLB record held by the Phillies' Chase Utley.

Prince Fielder was caught on camera smiling with Coco Crisp. Fileder_medium

Of course, a sports talk radio host took offense.

What's so funny? He must have read one of Foster's so-called "columns."

Your BYB managing editors nearly passed away while Scherzer was battling through the bases-loaded jam in the eighth.

Kurt: This series is taking years off my life
Al: You still have some to give. I'm OLD!
Kurt: I've lost so many since 2006 I'll never make it to your age!

As for a winner-take-all Game 5, Justin Verlander is ready.

THREE ROARS:

Austin Jackson: With the weight of the entire fan base on his shoulders and the world expecting him to strike out, Jackson came through with what may have been the most important hit of his career - a two-out RBI single to give the Tigers a lead in the seventh.

Victor Martinez: The veteran DH led the way with three hits. Martinez's home run in the seventh lifted the Tigers back in the game after it appeared the A's were on their way to ending the series.

Jhonny Peralta: If the Tigers do come back to win the series, Peralta's home run will be looked at as the play which turned the tide. He now leads all players in playoff RBIs with five.

BONUS ROARS

Max Scherzer: Asked to pitch in relief, Scherzer had command issues. But his bulldog mentality came to the fore in the eighth. The bases loaded, no one out and clinging to a one-run lead, Scherzer pulled off one of the most memorable pitching escapes you'll ever see.

Omar Infante: His two-out, two-RBI double in the eighth turned out to be the game-winning margin.

THREE HISSES:

Austin Jackson before the seventh: Ten strikeouts in 13 ALDS at bats.

Torii Hunter: Hitless in four at-bats with three strikeouts, plus some very shaky defense in right.

Joaquin Benoit: You aren't Jose Valverde or Todd Jones. Stop acting like it! The ninth inning was far more scary than it needed to be.

ROLL CALL:

Total comments 2,315
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Commenter list Alex Baker, Arvay7, Avid Reader, BadCompany22, Bent82, BigAl, Cabbylander, Chadster, Conor19, DJ Screw, DarthSparty, Designated for Assignment, DetroitSports, DodgerofTrolleys, Elfuego51, Emil Sitka, ErikFanClubPres, Fielder'sChoice, FrogTownFan, Grzesio, Honeyman, HookSlide, House by the Side of the Road, JJ, J_the_Man, Jacob30, JerseyTigerFan, Jim Bunn, Joaquin on Sunshine, JoeK5, KGW, Keith-Allen, KidPoker23, MSUDersh, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, Muttcutts, NCDee, NorthLeft12, Parisian Tiger, Red Barrons, RedWingedLigerFan, Rob Rogacki, RudeMood19, SanDiegoMick, Scherzerblueeye, ShowingBunt, SouthOf8Mile, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, T.O.P., TN Ben, The GIF Oracle, Thorpac, Tigerdog1, Tigers, Lions, and Wings...Oh my!, Tim 34, TomduhB, Trout Jefferson, WestWing, XFizzle, aarone46, aelix, ahtrap, aj.westley, alexalvarado13, brunokm, btforprez, detnordberg, dishnet34, dmakian, doctorj, easeup53, fiendishdr.wu, griffinman13, hockeyisfun49, jcbeckman, jim.leyland.love, jippolito, jon.erkkila.9, jrmars07, kjzk13, lesmanalim, lithium, mikep7771, mrsunshine, playboyperry509, rbbaker, saalfrank, sahaider, sauce1977, snizo, stevenyc, swish330, tbombach, texastigerfan, toled0lions, twinsgirl197, welcome to good burger, wobatus, 13194013
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/10/8/4816360/2013-alds-game-4-athletics-at-tigers-5-07-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/10/8/4818004/alds-game-4-overflowhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/10/8/4818190/alds-game-4-overflow-2

TOP TEN 11 COMMENTERS:

1 Scherzerblueeye 129
2 SanDiegoMick 115
3 SpartanHT 109
4 WestWing 100
5 BadCompany22 99
6 FrogTownFan 92
7 JerseyTigerFan 79
8 texastigerfan 67
9 stevenyc 67
10 ahtrap 66
11 Alex Baker 66

TOP RECS:

14 dishnet34 So, I think it's right time to pull this baby out...
10 NCDee BELIEVE!!!!!
8 BadCompany22 THAT BAT DIED A HERO!
7 Alex Baker OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION
6 RedWingedLigerFan OH JACKSON!!!
6 Scherzerblueeye Somehow Suh will get fined for this
5 NCDee Okay we are all frustrated
5 NCDee Remember when you were all
4 texastigerfan that qualifies as a sacrifice...
4 Alex Baker the tigers score multiple runs in more in than one inning?
4 mrsunshine FATALITY

ALDS GAME 3 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Asked to pitch in long relief of a struggling Anibal Sanchez, Jose Alvarez stepped up in a big way. The rookie left-hander tossed three innings hitless relief, keeping the Tigers in the game. Unfortunately, his teammates were unable make the most of Alvarez's excellent performance in a 6-3 loss. Alvarez topped Jhonny Peralta and Jose Veras in the the PotG polling, taking 74% of the vote.

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