For five-and-a-half innings, it looked like a terrible afternoon at Comerica Park. The kind of afternoon that makes you want to punch anyone who dared smile at you. The kind of afternoon when food doesn't taste good. The kind of afternoon where you just hate baseball because the Detroit Tigers make it so miserable for us.
Jarrod Washburn pitched like he felt bad over leaving the Mariners for the Tigers. "I'm sorry I get to be in a pennant race and you don't, guys. If I let you hit some home runs, can we be cool?" (You could almost hear the "I told you sos" from Lookout Landing.)
Among four home runs served up by Washburn, the most notable was Russell Branyan's, launched to right field like it was shot out of a mortar. That thing almost landed in The Jungle way past the seats.
But during a one-hour rain delay in which the bases were left loaded, the Tigers apparently pondered the possibility of losing a series at home. After play resumed, the Tigers started getting the big hit when it was needed. And yet again, Alex Avila was doing the swinging. His single up the middle drove in two runs, cutting Seattle's lead to 6-5. (As Kurt asked me during the game, how much of the ballpark is going to be wearing #13 jerseys and t-shirts next season?)
Yet the rally was almost snuffed out in the eighth inning, thanks to two fantastic defensive plays by the Mariners. With two runners on, Avila hit a sure double to left center, only to see Franklin Gutierrez glide over and snare it. (He also robbed Miguel Cabrera of extra bases in the fourth.) Then Placido Polanco blooped what should've been a single into shallow left, but Josh Wilson reached out and made an over-the-shoulder catch. At the time, that looked like Detroit's best chance to win.
But Seattle's bullpen couldn't hold off another rally. Three of Detroit's first four batters in the ninth reached base (one on an intentional walk to set up a double play), leaving David Aardsma very little margin for error. Brandon Inge hit a fly ball that didn't seem deep enough to score a run, but Carlos Guillen bolted home and ran over Johjima to tie the game.
That left the walk-off heroics up to Clete Thomas, who fought Aardsma for eight pitches, working back from a 1-2 count. Thomas was apparently waiting for a pitch down-and-in, because once he got an inside fastball, he turned on it, rocketing a ball down the right-field line to complete the Tigers' second comeback of a series they surely would've regretted losing.
Comment of the Day:
Working in Seattle
I’m nervous. My Tiger pride is on the line today as the season series is tied up. If we lose today, I’ll have to take crap from all 8 Mariners fans here in Seattle.
And your runner-up. We all do what we can.