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Player of the game: Austin Verlandervila.
In a game that saw the Tigers lose one star player (Miguel Cabrera -- he's day-to-day with a sore ankle), several of the others stepped up. Justin Verlander pitched a full nine innings. Austin Jackson dove to make a run-saving catch. Alex Avila knocked in the walkoff hit -- leading to a series sweep of the Blue Jays.
It seemed as if it it was going to be one of those games. You know the ones. The Tigers get a solid pitching performance. (It's Verlander on the mound: how could they not?) Yet they get shut down by the opposing pitcher. Losing Cabrera in the second inning didn't help matters, of course. But even with Cabrera in the lineup, we've come to expect this sort of game.
Five innings, six innings, seven innings, shutout. Detroit was down by two runs after Edwin Encarnacion ran into one in the fourth inning. Verlander's only mistake, naturally.
The Tigers got a bit of help in the eighth. Toronto had been helping the entire series, so it was no surprise. The game-tying run came on a wild pitch.
Still, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings. A tweet also tells us that it marked the first time a Jays starter went past seven innings since June 6. Happy struck out seven and allowed seven baserunners.
Detroit finally put an end to the game in the 11th. Jhonny Peralta singled. Delmon Young nearly erased any threat but narrowly avoided grounding into the double play. Quintin Berry stole a base, and -- CLAPCLAPCLAP -- came home on Avila's line drive to right field.
The entire series felt like one the Tigers could have been expected to lose at every moment. Certainly you want to give some credit to them for coming away with the sweep. On the other hand, you definitely have to give some credit to the Blue Jays for making it easier. Look at the scores: Detroit won three games by a combined four runs. The Tigers scored 11 for the series. That's not generally happy-fun-time land.
But this time, it was. In the standings, that's all that counts.
Justin Verlander - 9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 12 K
Alex Avila - 1 hit, but 1 BIG hit.
Austin Jackson - I don't even care about the 2 hits. It was the one catch.
Jhonny Peralta had a pair of hits, Brennan Boesch drove in the Tigers' first run of the game, the bullpen did pretty well.
On paper, this game shouldn't have been so close.
GAME 123 POG
Anibal Sanchez earned some redemption!