|Final - 8.23.2011||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Tampa Bay Rays||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||11||0|
|WP: Brad Penny (9 - 9)
SV: Phil Coke (1)
LP: David Price (11 - 11)
2 IP, 5 K, 51 pitches
Those are the numbers for Phil Coke's save tonight. I hate using the word clutch, but Coke was clutch...and Jim Leyland was hoping to not have to use him.
With Brad Penny starting, and Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde unavailable, the Tigers desperately needed someone to step up in the pen tonight. Phil Coke was the man to do so. The game ending at bat with Ben Zobrist was as tense as they come. But Coke came through in a big, big way. Coke has now made 11 straight appearances without giving up a run.
This would also be a good time to encourage you to follow the hugely entertaining Twitter account, Phil Coke's Brain. Here's what we got after the win...
If Brandon gets player of the game, I'm going to slap his soul patch off his chin.
With the bases loaded and two out, Ryan Perry got Evan Longoria on an easy fly ball to center to end the 7th inning.
The Tigers had just taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the 7th, thanks to an Alex Avila RBI single and a Jhonny Peralta sac fly. Penny had pitched very well, but was pulled with one on and one out in the 7th. Daniel Schlereth did get the 2nd out of the inning, but also loaded the bases on a single and...of course...a base on balls.
Perry took over for Schlereth. While the entire Tigers fanbase had their heart in their throats, Perry gave a fist pump as soon as the ball left Longoria's bat. Perry immediately knew he had just gotten what could be considered the biggest out of his career.
The game started 20 minutes late due to
an earthquake hurricane zombie apocalypse a power outage.
Austin Jackson's K in the 1st inning was historic.
That was Austin Jackson's 300th career strikeout. He's just the fourth major-leaguer to reach that total in his first two seasons.
The other 3 - Incaviglia, Reynolds and Burrell - had at least 45 homers in those two seasons. A-Jax has 10.
Let's move on...
Kudos to the often maligned Penny. He faced the Rays' ace, David Price, and won a start many thought would be a sure loss for the Tigers. With the bullpen in some disarray, the Tigers needed a good performance from their 5th starter, and got a quality start out of him.
Victor Martinez was back in the lineup, despite his back and knee issues, and played a big part in the game winning rally. The Tigers need Martinez's bat in the lineup, though I have to admit it hurts just watching him run the bases.
Alex Avila, good at baseball. He had two more hits, a huge late game RBI and threw out the only Ray who dared try to run on him, Desmond Jennings in the 1st inning. You don't mess with the Avila.
Longoria made an excellent play to keep the Tigers off the board in the 7th, making a diving stop, then throwing out Delmon Young at the plate...from his knees.
What Brandon Inge giveth on defense, he taketh away on offense. Inge was fine defensively. But he struck out with two RISP to end the Tigers' 7th, and popped up with the bases loaded to end the Tigers' 9th. Seems like the welcome back to Detoroit home run was a long, long time ago. But is it Inge's fault Leyland insists on playing him?
The reported attendance in Tampa was 11,475. Sure it was. The Rays would also have you believe Kyle Farnsworth is a trustworthy reliever.
Common wisdom said a split of the four game series was the best case scenario. The Tigers have won the first two games of the series, meaning they are playing with house money from here on out. With Max Scherzer and Doug Fister up in the rotation, a series win is not out of the question.
As for the competition, the Indians split a doubleheader with the Mariners to fall six games back of the 1st place Tigers. The White Sox are also six back. As I post, the are on the West coast, down 4-3 to the Angels in the 7th...though Hawk Harrelson would have you believe the Sox are winning if you are watching WGN.
Regardless, the Tigers may be the verge of taking control of Central. They now hold the biggest lead of any AL division leader.