The Detroit Tigers' short-handed bullpen blew a two run lead, the Cleveland Indians forcing the game into extra innings. But Miguel Cabrera's RBI double and a Phil Coke save gave the Tigers a 5-4 win in ten innings and a three game winning streak.
Justin Verlander didn't get the win for Detroit, but he put them in position for a victory by allowing just two runs, one earned, and four hits over seven innings. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the bullpen once again came up short.
Given a 4-2 lead, Al Albuquerque didn't retire a batter and allowed a run. Rookie Blaine Hardy bailed out Albuquerque by stranding the tying run at third. In the ninth, Joe Nathan (W, 4-2) was unable to convert his third straight save, but did vulture a win. The veteran closer surrendered a run by giving up three consecutive two out, two strike singles in the ninth, sending the game into extras. But Phil Coke came through for the Tigers in the bottom of the tenth, striking out all three left-handed bats he faced, nailing down his first save in more than a year.
Indians' starter Trevor Bauer was pulled after 6 1/3 innings, having allowed eight hits, three of those home runs. The last of four Indians' relievers, Cody Allen (L, 3-2), was Cabrera's victim in the tenth, taking the loss.
The Tigers got to extra innings thanks to the long ball. Of their ten hits, five were for extra bases. Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis homered for Detroit. Cabrera, Martinez, and Kinsler all had two hits for the winners.
The Tigers' first three game winning streak on over a month has moved Detroit back into first place in the AL Central. Tonight's win extended the their lead over the Royals to 1 1/2 games. The Indians, who had hopes of overtaking the Tigers the weekend, are now four full games back in third.
Victor Martinez: The veteran DH remains unstoppable. He drove in the Tigers' first two runs with his 19th home run in the second and an RBI single in the sixth. Martinez is hitting a remarkable .331/.387/.606.
Justin Verlander: Bounced back from an awful start with a seven inning gem. Verlander held the Indians to two runs, one earned, on just four hits, while tying his season high of eight strikeouts and a season low of one walk. It's too soon to say "Must see JV" is back, but it was a very encouraging outing.
Rajai Davis: Shockingly, Davis walked for the first time in over two weeks. But of more importance was his seventh inning solo home run, number five on the season.
Ian Kinsler: His eighth home run of the season, a seventh inning solo shot, would have been the winning margin if Joe Nathan gets the third out in the ninth. Kinsler also kicked off the game-winning rally with a lead off single in the tenth, scoring on Miguel Cabrera's double.
Blaine Hardy: Thrown into a very difficult, high leverage situation, Hardy was asked to clean up Alburquerque's mess. The rookie retired all three batters he faced on ground balls, stranding the tying run on third.
Miguel Cabrera: When the Tigers appeared on the verge of a very bad loss, Cabrera stepped up with a huge RBI double in the tenth (MLB.com video), giving Detroit their winning margin. Cabrera (who also robbed Jason Kipnis of a base hit with a diving play - MLB.com video) was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, and is right behind the unconscious Martinez at .320/.374/.548.
We are one of the luckiest fan bases around. We get to watch Miguel Cabrera every day.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 22, 2014
Phil Coke: The Tigers had a short-handed bullpen tonight. Joba Chamberlain had the night off (and will be the closer on Sunday), Ian Krol is likely headed to the DL with arm trouble (which the Tigers made official after the game, placing Krol on the 15-day DL and calling up Pat McCoy from Triple-A Toledo), and Albuquerque, Hardy and Nathan had been used. Brad Asumus was down to Coke and Chad Smith. With several left-handed hitters due up for the Indians, the game was put on the left arm of Coke. He did allow a two out single to one right-handed batter he faced, Carlos Santana. But as a big league lefty should, Coke retired all three left-handed batters he faced. He struck out the side, nailing down the win.
Eugenio Suarez: After a very hot start, pitchers have figured out the rookie shortstop. Another hitless night for Sauarez, who went 0-for-4 while seemingly swinging from his heels on every pitch.
Al Albuquerque: Faced two batters in the eighth. He plunked Michael Bourn, then served up an RBI double to Asdrubal Cabrera, cutting the Tigers' lead to 4-3.
Joe Nathan: Asking the 39-year-old closer to nail down his third save in three days was too much. After recording the first two outs, Nathan went to a two strike count on three consecutive batters. The result was three straight singles, the last by Michael Bourn tying the game at 4-all. The blown save was Nathan's fifth of the season.
Before tonight's game, Tigers' first base coach Omar Vizquel was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame. Vizquel played for six different franchises over his 24 year career, but is best known for his 11 seasons as the Tribe's shortstop. Vizquel won eight of his 11 Gold Gloves and made three All-Star Games as an Indian.
Vizquel also showed he still has some shortstop left in him!
Omar Vizquel showing everyone he can still turn the DP. pic.twitter.com/3OPSJjOcc6— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 22, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
Victor Martinez's second inning home run is the third time this season he's homered in back-to-back games. He's accomplished the feat 18 times in his career.
Martinez is now hitting .370 for his career against his former team.
J.D. Martinez's second inning single extended his career high hitting streak to 11 games.
Keep in mind we're talking small sample sizes. Eugenio Saurez started hot, 8-for-20 in first eight games. After tonight's action, Saurez is in a 3-for-23 funk over seven games.
In the fifth inning Rajai Davis walked, It was his first base on balls in 32 plate appearances, and only his second in 16 games.
Ian Kinsler had been slumping, but his bat is waking up after a long June swoon. He's hitting .344 with two home runs and six RBI over his last eight games.
The home runs by Davis and Kinsler in the seventh is the third time this season the Tigers have hit back-to-back jacks. What was rare about it was it was off the bats of the number nine and one batters in the order. The last time the Tigers had back-to-back homers from the nine and one spots in the order was May 10, 2006 at Baltimore - Brandon Inge and Curtis Granderson.
Blaine Hardy has started his big league career with four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit over three appearances.
With two doubles tonight, Miguel Cabrera leads the AL with 26.
Phil Coke earned his first save since April Fools Day of 2013, back in the infamous and short "closer by committee" era.
Coke has not allowed a run in six of his last seven outings.
The Tigers have their first winning streak in over a month. The last time they won more than two games in a row was in mid-May after sweeping the Orioles and Red Sox. Then came the Zubaz, the delayed arrival in Cleveland and the losing.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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