The Detroit Tigers rallied from 3 runs down in the 8th inning to beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-6. Brayan Villarreal (3-1) pitched 2 innings of relief to pick up the win, Jose Valverde converted his 12th save. Aroldis Chapman (4-2) took the loss. Austin Jackson led the Tigers with 2 hits, a home run and 3 RBI. Todd Frazier had 2 hits, including a home run and 4 RBI for the Reds.
Neither starter was around to see a decision. The Tigers' Drew Smyly was pulled after 3 innings due to injury, while Homer Bailey lasted 6 2/3 innings for the Reds.The game tuned in the 8th, the Tigers rallying for 4 runs against a pair of the Reds' best relievers, Logan Ondrusek and Chapman. The winning run would score on Chapman's wild pitch.
Early on, it appeared the Tigers were in for a long night, their ESPN jinx intact. Brandon Phillips led off the 2nd with a looping double which just eluded a diving Quintin Berry. After Jay Bruce walked, the Tigers' knack for allowing teams to run at will reappeared. The Reds pulled off a far to easy double steal. Gerald Laird didn't have a chance in Hell to get either runner. The aggressive base running paid off when Smyly sawed off Todd Frazier, who still managed to bloop a single in front of Berry for a 2-0 lead.
The Reds extended their lead to 3-0 in the 3rd on Zack Cozart's 3rd inning home run, his 7th of the season. Smyly got out of the inning without further incident, but was forced to leave the game. The Tigers announced Smyly had developed a blister on his left middle finger.
The Tigers countered with a run in the 4th, though the inning could have led to much more. Miguel Cabrera led off the inning with a single, but was thrown out at 2nd trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt to Prince Fielder. It took a perfect throw to get him, while replays showed Cabrera likely beat the tag. Typical.
Fielder then singled, Delmon Young doubled him to 3rd. Brandon Phillips' error on a Ramon Santiago's roller allowed Fielder to rumble home.
Luis Marte took over for the blood blistered Smyly in to bottom of the 4th. With 2 outs, Devin Mesoraco hit a home run so far, I believe it landed in the vicinity of Parma...or the 2nd deck in left field, whichever is further. Mescoraco's 4th homer of the season gave the Reds a 4-1 lead
Jackson started shaking off the rust off his swing, lining an opposite field home run to right in the top of the 5th. His 6th homer of the season kept the Tigers close at 4-2.
The Reds opened the 6th inning with a single and walk, which brought out Jim Leyland to pull Marte. Brayan Villarreal relieved, all looked good when Ryan Ludwick grounded into a 1-4-3 double play. But Tiger Killer Tood Frazier took a Villarreal pitch over the right field wall, his 7th homer run of the season, to stretch the Reds' lead to 6-2. It was Frazier's 3rd RBI of the night and 5th in the series. Of course, the Great American Ball Park is smaller than a bread box, so Frazier's big fly is just an out at Comerica.
Berry's speed got the Tigers a big run in the 7th. He looped a single to center with 2 out. The Reds once again pitched around Cabrera, as they did all series long. Fielder then ripped a single to right, Berry sliding to the right of the catcher to avoid the sweep tag, then diving back to touch the plate, the acrobatics cutting the Reds' lead to 6-3..
In the 8th, the Tigers started to kick up their heels on Ondrusek, Santiago leading off with a walk and Laird singling. Leyland called on gimpy ankled Brennan Boesch to pinch hit for Villarreal. Wanting the lefty-lefty matchup, or just wanting his most dominant arm in the game, Dusty Baker countered with the best reliever in baseball this season, Chapman.
Then things got bizarre, especially if you are a Reds fan.
The left hand hitting Boesch excels against left handed pitching, to the tune of a .309 career average. So we shouldn't be surprised Boesch singled off Chapman, loading the bases.111 hitting Matt Young was hit by a pitch, bringing home Santiago, and a freebie RBI. Jackson then smoked a liner down the left field line, kicking up chalk, which was nabbed by a fat, balding Reds fan wearing a baseball glove. The ground rule double tied the game, Jackson was credited with 2 RBI...though it would have cleared the bases if not for the fan interference.
Berry worked a walk, re-loading the bases for Cabrera. But he didn't knock in the go-ahead run. Chapman did the work for him, a wild pitch sending Matt Young home to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead, making the chubby bald guy moot. Chapman got out of the inning by putting down the meat of the Tigers' order, Cabrera, Fielder and Delmon Young, 1-2-3. Go figure.
With the Tigers now holding a slim lead, Joaquin Benoit took over in the 8th. Benoit stuck out the uber-pesky Frazier on a 3-2 pitch with the tying run at 2nd.
1 run lead in hand, Jose Valverde came on to close out the Reds. No need for antacids or a defibrillator, Papa Grande was grand indeed. His easy 1-2-3 9th gave the Tigers a 7-6 victory.
The Tigers have won 3 of 4, 2 straight and a just took a series from a division leader. This is the team I expected to see in 2012. The fact they are doing it without Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Andy Dirks, Octavio Dotel and Doug Fister and with Danny Worth, Quintin Berry, Matt Young, Hernan Perez...well, I didn't see it coming. Let's hope a corner has been turned. Or at least least we can see the corner, past all the injured Tigers.
Items of note:
So how bad was Smyly's blister?
Holy mother of...that looks bad. No word as of yet if Smyly will have to miss any time. Considering the Tigers' luck with injuries, I wouldn't bet against it.
The Tigers ended Joey Votto's hitting streak at 15 games. They can't get Frazier out, but no problem with Votto. As if I needed more proof baseball is a funny game.
Chapman entered the game with an inhuman 0.30 ERA and 0.60 WHIP. 7 Tigers later (including the immortal Boesch, Young and Berry), Chapman's ERA was 0.87 and WHIP 0.68. He had allowed only 1 earned run all season. The Tigers doubled it in 1 inning. I don't believe it, either. I've long given up trying to figure out baseball, innings like the Tigers' 8th is why.
It was a big night for rookie shortstop Hernan Perez. He entered the game during the crazy 8th as a pinch runner for Boesch, scoring his first career run on Jackson's double. Perez also got his first career hit in the 9th, beating out an infield single.
Austin Jackson: The Tigers' go as Jackson goes. He sure went tonight, with a double, home run and 3 RBI.
Gerald Laird: 2 more hits for G$ raised his team leading batting average to .323.
Jose Valverde: I like this version of the Big Potato. 1-2-3 worry free 9th innings? I could get used to those very easily.
Detroit Tigers fans: It sounded just like a home game over ESPN as thousands of Tigers fans made the trip down I-75. Chants of "Let's go Tigers" completely overwhelmed the Reds' bandbox stadium.
Drew Smyly: Thanks to the blister, Smyly could only go 3 innings. It wasn't one of his better performances, with 3 runs, 4 hits and a walk. Worse, his Achilles heel cropped up again, the home run. Frazier's home run was the 10th allowed by Smyly in 12 starts.
Luis Marte: Took over in tough circumstances, but didn't have the best of nights. Marte went 2 innings, allowing 3 hits, 2 runs and the loooong home run to Mesoraco. That's hiss worthy pitching.
ESPN: Because they are ESPN.
GAME 59 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Prince Fielder's big game winning hit sent him over the top with 85% of the BYB vote. .