The Cleveland Indians had the game well in control, up 2-0 and only needing three outs to beat the Detroit Tigers. But closer Chris Perez imploded in spectacular fashion, allowing four ninth inning runs on three hits. The biggest being the Tigers' Alex Avila clearing the wall in left center for a game winning three run home run.
With the win, the Tigers have won nine straight and take a four game lead in the Central over the Tribe. The Tigers also win their first game after starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta was suspended for the next 50 games due to his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal.
Tigers' starter Anibal Sanchez gets the proverbial, "He deserved a better fate." Sanchez gave up just two runs on four hits, striking out 11 in 7 2/3 innings. Al Alburquerque (2-2) came on for the last out of the eighth, which was enough to earn the win. Joaquin Benoit earned his 13th save in 13 opportunities, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth.
Indians' starter Corey Kluber was excellent, shutting out the Tigers on six hits over 7 1/3 innings. Just as did Sanchez, Kluber also deserved better, though he was in line for the win before Perez blew up. Perez (4-2) didn't record an out, allowing all four Tigers run to earn both a blown save and the loss.
The Tigers had 12 hits on the night . Avila's game winner was his only hit, but obviously the biggest. Victor Martinez had three hits and the other RBI for the Tigers, Ramon Santiago and Torii Hunter adding two hits each. The Indians were held to five hits on the night, Michael Brantley the only player to have two. Jason Giambi and Carlos Santana drove in the Indians' runs.
The game looked all but lost for the Tigers. Sanchez looked to be on the hook for a very undeserved loss. An injured Miguel Cabrera played, but could barely run. Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson are in awful slumps. There were brutal base running mistakes. The offense misfired time after time against Kluber.
Then Perez arrived on the scene. Avila greeted him with a three run big fly, and all was well in Tigerdom.
The most frustrating 37 year old on the Tigers, Torii Hunter, ran the Tigers out of what could have been an early first inning lead.
Hunter singled to left, and decided to test of arm of Michael Brantley. Brantley had Hunter dead to rights. Of course, Miguel Cabrera followed with a single to right, which Drew Stubbs proceeded to kick around, allowing a very gimpy looking Cabrera to take second. Odds are good Hunter would have scored on the play. Prince Fielder's struggles at the plate then continued with an ugly strikeout, swinging through an eye high fastball to strand Cabrera.
To Fielder's credit, he didn't let his awful at bat affect his play on defense. He made a pair of backhand stops, including laying out to take a single away from Jason Kipnis to end the bottom of the first.
Top of two, the Tigers threatened, but do not score thanks to some nifty Tribe defense. Victor Martinez led off with a single, Corey Kluber walking Andy Dirks. Two on and no one out, Alex Avila sent a long drive to deep left center. Michael Bourn kept the game scoreless by running down Avila's fly ball on the warning track, then hitting the wall. The rally petered out from there. Jose Iglesias beat out a double play ball, but Dirks was out at second. Runners on the corners, Ramon Santiago bounced out the Bro King at first, Nick Swisher. A promising inning dead.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the second with the help of a stolen base, but it took a marvelous catch by Austin Jackson to keep the lead at one run.
Brantley singled to shallow center, then go a huge jump and easily stole second. With two down and the PED irony thick, Jason Giambi looped an RBI single to center. Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a drive to dead center. Jackson raced to the wall and perfectly timed his leap to take extra bases away from Chisenhall (MLB.com video).
While Kluber was holding the Tigers scoreless, the Indians were increasing their lead to 2-0 in the fourth.
With two out, Brantley flipped a little looper that a healthy Cabrera runs down. But Cabrera isn't healthy, barely able to run. So the ball fell to the turf in foul territory and Brantley remained alive. That play would come back to haunt Anibal Sanchez. The inning extended, Brantley singled and scored when Carlos Santana just missed a home run, doubling off the the top of the right field wall (MLB.com video).
Despite allowing two runs, Sanchez was pitching well, striking out eight (nine overall) from the third through sixth innings, setting down 7-of-8 after Santana's double. But the offense had done noting against Kluber.
Kluber was rolling through six, easily retiring the middle of the Tigers' order, including a ten pitch battle with Fielder which resulted in a strikeout. In the seventh, Stubbs stumbled around like a drunken Delmon Young, but somehow hauled in Martinez's lead off line shot. Kipnis followed that up by taking a single away from Dirks on a ground ball up the middle. Instead of a pair of base runners and no one out, Kluber ended up with an eight pitch 1-2-3 seventh inning.
It had become one of THOSE games. It sure appeared to be at the time, anyway.
Top of eight, after Kipnis took another hit away, Santiago singled to left. The tying run now at the plate in Jackson, Terry Francona decided to go to his bullpen, calling on right-hander Joe Smith. Kluber, who had pitched extremely well, left to a standing ovation from all the green seats in attendance.
Jackson didn't hit the ball hard, but in the right place, beating out a swinging bunt. Hunter then ripped a line dirve to right, Stubbs charging, then backing up, allowing the ball to drop in front of him. Santiago didn't read the ball well, so third base coach Tom Brookens held him up at third. But Jackson rounded second with his head down, was caught in a rundown and tagged for the second out.
Runners on the corners and two out, Cabrera was swinging from the heels. He didn't go yard, just bounced out to second, ending the threat.
Ifs and buts. If Santiago had read the ball better. If Brookens decided to be more aggressive down two runs. If Jackson had been paying damn attention. But none of that happened, a possible crooked number rally dying a miserable death.
Sanchez pitched into the eighth, Jim Leyland pulling his starter after 7 2/3 innings once he walked the King of BrOhio, Swisher. Phil Coke came on with one job to do, retire Kipnis for the final out of the inning. The lefty-lefty match up went Kipnis' way, singling to center.
Leyland was using Coke as strictly a LOOGY, so the skipper made another pitching change. Al Alburquerque took over with two on and two out. Alburquerque and his version of Mr. Snappy did the job, Asdrubal Cabrera bouncing out to end the threat.
But the Tigers were still losing 2-0 and were down to their last three outs.
Top of nine and Tribe closer Chris Perez on the mound, the meltdown began when Fielder dropped a fly ball just fair in the left field corner for a lead off double, only his third extra base hit since the All-Star break. Martinez drove home Fielder with his third hit of the game, a single to left. Brantley all but conceded the run, backing up as the ball fell in.
Instead of Jhonny Peralta batting sixth, Dirks was in the slot tonight. He reached base on his second walk of the game, pinch runner Hernan Perez advancing to scoring position. Still no one out, it was thought the bunt might be on. But Avila was not asked to sacrifice, allowed to swing away.
Avila took a Perez fastball the other way, clearing the high wall in right center for an Earl Weaver Special, a three run bomb! (MLB.com video) (Recording of Dan Dickerson's radio call) As the ball sailed out of Progressive Field, the Tigers' dugout EXPLODED.
When the dust had settled, the Tigers were up 4-2 on Avila's ninth home run of the season and Perez was walking off the mound charged with his second blown save of the season.
Francona pulled his closer for right-hander Cody Allen. Iglesias greeted him with an infield single. Santiago was ordered to give the Tribe a free out, sacrificing Iglesias to second. Allen struck out Jackson, but it was on a wild pitch. That allowed Jackson to reach base and Iglesias to take third.
Two down and Cabrera at the plate, Allen wild pitched Jacskon to second, Iglesias holding. First base now open, the Indians elected to walk the gimpy legged Cabrera, loading the bases.
Strategy ensued. Leyland pulled Cabrera, pinch running Don Kelly. Francona called for the left-hander, Marc Rzepczynski. Fielder bounced out to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded. But the Tigers had batted around, scoring four runs on four hits, two walks, a sacrifice and two wild pitches.
Asked to protect a two run ninth inning lead, Joaquin Benoit took over for the Tigers. No problem for Benoit, as he easily retired the Tribe in order for his 13th save.
GAME OVER! Your final score is Tigers 4, Indians 2. What a finish!
As frustrating at the Tigers can be at times, you can't say they mail games in. Considering all the distractions surrounding the Peralta suspension, Cabrera playing on what looks to be one leg, some important bats slumping and playing an obviously fired up Indians team, the Tigers looked as if they had the weight of the world on their shoulders for eight innings and 24 outs. In fact, the game was a dumpster fire on offense for eight innings.
But it takes 27 outs to end a game. Perez couldn't get even one, the Tigers rising to the occasion to take a come-from-behind victory.
The streaking Tigers have won nine in a row and 13-of-14, raising their record to 20 games over .500 at 65-45. Their lead is now four games over the Indians, who drop to 62-50.
Game two of the series features Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.88 ERA) taking on right-hander Justin Masterson (13-7, 3.33 ERA). Verlander stopped a two loss skein by holding the Nationals to one run and four hits over six innings in his last start, an 11-1 Tigers victory. Masterson has been lights out for the Tribe as of late, 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA in 21 1/3 innings over his last three appearances. First pitch at Progressive Field is set for 7:05 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Cleveland in this race and this is the crowd that shows! Ridiculous! pic.twitter.com/uPiYNVv2Di— Jeff Riger (@riger1984) August 5, 2013
Mario Impemba was generous, saying, "A good crowd, not a great crowd."
Fans are obviously disguised as wide swaths of green seats. So the Tribe are in a pennant race, have won 9-of-10, the first first place team is in town for a big series, yet they can't sell out. Some baseball town, that Cleveland. Attendance for tonight's game was a laughable 24K.
Need to add this to the Rod Allen Drinking Game.
Every time Rod says that he accepts Jhonny's apology or forgives him, take a drink.— HookSlide (@CabrerasCorner) August 5, 2013
I heard Rod twice forgive Peralta before 7:40 PM. Rod's a very nice man from all accounts, but let's move on.
DEATH TO THE BUNT. Even when the Tigers try to bunt for a hit, it ends badly. Austin Jackson tried to bunt for a base hit in the third, but ran into the ball leaving the batter's box, and was immediately called out. Of course, Rod Allen "Liked the idea."
Rod Allen quote of the night:
"He's swinging some kind of magic wand right now!"
Get your minds out of the gutter, he was talking about Victor Martinez's bat!
After a fifth inning strikeout dropped his batting average to .260, Lynn Henning of the News semi-called out Austin Jackson.
Austin Jackson ... now sub-.260 ... Quietly turning into an off-key season for a guy who should be so much better.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 6, 2013
Jackson had a sizzling June, but has not been productive at the plate for five weeks, hitting .216/.261/.368 since July 1. Jackson's defense still makes him a valuable asset, but a .261 OBP from your lead off man can't last.
Then Henning took a dig at Prince Fielder as well.
Pretty simple equation for Tigers offense: Leadoff man and clean-up hitters need to get it going.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 6, 2013
Unfortunately, Henning speaks the truth. Fielder is eighth in the AL in first base OPS at .789, behind Adam Dunn and just ahead of Brandon Moss. That's not Fielder territory. I still believe he'll come around, but it's not fun to watch him hit at the moment.
Watching Prince bat these days has caused me to invent new curse words that are as filthy as they are brilliant.— HookSlide (@CabrerasCorner) August 6, 2013
Meanwhile, in Chicago...
A-Rod getting loudly booed and he hasn't even stepped into the batter's box yet. #YAnkees.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 6, 2013
Cabrera made a nice defensive play to throw out Jason Giambi in the seventh, then cracked a smile.
awwww look at Miggy smile doesn't that just melt your cold, dark Tiger fan heart— Donnie Kelly (@AceRHPDonKelly) August 6, 2013
Meanwhile, our good friend Rogo was beyond frustrated with the Tigers' offense.
Tigers lineup: MIA, Streaky, Dying, Last seen in April, Unlucky, 4th Outfielder, Frustrating, Cuban Everett, PlzDFA. Could use some help.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) August 6, 2013
The disaster which was the Tigers' base running in the eighth set off a frustrated fan base and media.
I HATE YOU BASERUNNING TIGERS— Tokarz (@tokarzontigers) August 6, 2013
Seriously Brookens, if there was a time to be aggressive on the bases, THAT WAS IT.— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) August 6, 2013
Brookens, Santiago, and Jackson are all very stupid on that play.— Patrick OKennedy (@Tigerdog_1) August 6, 2013
Leyland should kick all the players out of the clubhouse— Grow your football (@ChampaignCaviar) August 6, 2013
Of course, the mood took a 180 when Alex Avila went yard.
DON'T YOU GUYS EVER GIVE UP ON THE TIGERS BEFORE THE END OF THE GAME AGAIN— Donnie Kelly (@AceRHPDonKelly) August 6, 2013
Let the yelling, screaming, leaping around, and clapping commence. Also the drinking. Always the drinking.— HookSlide (@CabrerasCorner) August 6, 2013
Chris Perez: 13 pitches, 4 runs, 0 outs, 1 shower— Bryan Craves (@DisplacedTgrFan) August 6, 2013
All y'all owe Alex an apology...except you @tokarzontigers. you may gloat— Cthulhu Whitaker (@jason_d_price) August 6, 2013
Good things happen when you don't bunt!
FSD's shot of the dugout after Avila went yard was glorious!
As reminded by the FSD crew, a year ago today Chris Perez melted down against the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera hit a walk off two run home run off Perez to beat the Indians. Perez would be best served to not get out of bed on August 5, 2014.
The always annoying Tribe drummer was doing his damnedest to the end, trying to drum up a rally in the ninth.
The Indians drum isn't nearly as annoying when you have broken their spirits— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) August 6, 2013
Drummer guy was of no help tonight.
Anibal Sanchez: Deserved a W, but a lack of run support doomed Sanchez to a no-decision. At least the late comeback took Sanchez off the hook for the loss.
Alex Avila: Avila's knack for late inning, game rescuing home runs comes to the fore. Only one hit, but you couldn't ask for a more timely one.
Victor Martinez: Three more hits and an RBI for the Tigers' white hot DH.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|3||Joaquin on Sunshine||107|
|6||There Can Only Be One Verlander||59|
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|7||NCDee||Shove that drum sideways!|
|4||Joaquin on Sunshine||YES!|
|4||Joaquin on Sunshine||#MagicNumberCountdown|
|3||kland83||All I need is a Boomstick for 'VARK!|
|3||Rob Rogacki||It was all thanks to the rally Bondo|
Torii Hunter may have had the game winning hit, but Rick Porcello was voted PotG thanks to allowing just one run in 7 2/3 innings of work.