In a wild, back-and-forth game which featured two ejections, Miguel Cabrera's walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth gave the Detroit Tigers a 6-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Both manager Jim Leyland and starting catcher Brayan Pena were ejected by Bob Davidson and Mike Muchlinski respectively for arguing a foul ball which wasn't called.
Called on in a non-save situation, Tigers' closer Joaquin Benoit (3-0) pitched a scoreless ninth, earning the victory. Starter Doug Fister wasn't at his best, but gutted through 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, scattering ten hits.
Royals' reliever Aaron Crow (7-4) faced just one batter. Unfortunately for him, it was Cabrera in the ninth, Crow taking the loss. Wade Davis started for the Royals, knocked around for four hits and eight runs in 3 2/3 innings.
The middle of the order was quiet during Friday's double header sweep, but carried the Tigers' offense tonight. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez combined on a 6-for-13, five-RBI, three-runs-scored, two-home-run night. Along with Cabrera's game winner, Fielder added a first-inning RBI double and eighth-inning home run. Martinez had two hits, driving in a run in the first as well. Jose Iglesias added three hits and an RBI from the number nine spot.
The Royals out hit the Tigers 14-12, but also left 12 on base. Salvador Perez led the way with two hits, one a game-tying home run, and two RBIs. Chris Getz and Alcides Escobar each had two hits and an RBI for the Royals.
The Tigers were able to bounce back from Friday's brutal double-header sweep to pull out a win. This against a Royals team which seems to play their best whenever they play the Tigers.
Tonight, Comerica Park had a definite playoff vibe. But at 7 1/2 games back of the Tigers in the Central and 5 1/2 behind in the wild card, it appears games like tonight's are the closest the Royals will come to the postseason.
As for the peerless Miguel Cabrera? This sums up his recent heroics.
Three of Miguel Cabrera's last six HRs have been in 9th inning. That's all since last Friday.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) August 18, 2013
The first two batters into the game had Tigers fans saying, "Not again!" Three batters later, you could hear, "Whew" throughout Tigers' nation.
David Lough and Eric Hosmer started the game with back-to-back singles. Tiger Killer Billy Butler, wasn't, striking out. Prince Fielder didn't handle Alex Gordon's hard ground ball cleanly, but was able to get the putout as the runners advanced into scoring position. That's where they would remain. Salvador Perez bounced to Cabrera, Fielder making a nice pick of the short hop to end the threat.
Four batters into the bottom of the first, the Tigers equaled their entire run output over Friday's 18 innings. One more batter in, the Tigers' had doubled Friday's output.
One out, Don Kelly singled through the right side. Mike Moustakas took an extra base hit away from Miguel Cabrera with a backhand stop of a hard ground ball, throwing out the Tigers' injured slugger as Kelly advanced to second.
Prince Fielder entered tonight 1-for-11 in the series. Make it 2-for-12. Fielder clubbed a long RBI double to left center over the head of Emilio Bonifacio (who took a Quintin Berry-esque route), Kelly scoring to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead (MLB.com video). Victor Martinez followed with a single to center, Fielder rumbling across the plate to push the lead to 2-0.
Brayan Pena may be swinging a better bat than injured Alex Avila, but he's not in the same league defensively. There was more evidence of this in the top of second. Playing injured and not running much better than Cabrera is Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. Pena badly rushed his throw on Moustakas' swinging bunt, sailing it into right field. Scored single - E2, the throwing error allowed the gimpy Moustakas to reach second.
With one down and Moustakas still on second, the Tigers proceeded to make a mental error on Chris Getz's comebacker. Fister threw to third, catching Moustakas in a rundown. But the Tigers took far too long to retire Moustakas, allowing the much faster Getz to reach second. It was a trade the Royals' were more than willing to make, Getz being a far better base runner.
Fister made the rundown moot, wriggling out of the trouble. Alcides Escobar bounced out to the sure-handed Jose Iglesias, ending the inning.
Bottom of two, the Tigers actually pulled off small ball in an appropriate situation to increase their lead. Omar Infante led off with a single, moving to second on Pena's ground out.
On Twitter, Tigers beat guy Lynn Henning read Jim Leyland's mind.
For a manager who doesn't like to squeeze, this is a pretty good squeeze situation: Iglesias vs. Wade Davis.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 17, 2013
Sure enough, the suicide squeeze was on. Infante was off on the pitch and Iglesias squared up and got his bat on the ball. The Royals had no play on Infante, Iglesias beating out the bunt for an RBI single and 3-0 Tigers lead (MLB.com video)
Two out and Iglesias still on first, Kelly just missed taking Davis yard before extending the inning with a base on balls. Cabrera popped up to end the inning, but the Tigers had given Fister a three-run cushion.
After two innings, the Tigers had three times the runs and the same amount of hits they had in the entirety of yesterday's twin bill. The faster we can put that debacle behind us, the better.
Top of three, it was the return of (take you pick of) Twins Hits/paper cuts - a very annoying inning. I should add the Royals' two-run rally started with a pitching sin, a base on balls.
Hosmer, working his way up to Tiger Killer status, walked with one out. Country Breakfast bounced a single to center. Alex Gordon sent a bouncer through the right side, Hosmer scoring the Royals' first run of the game. Perez followed with the Royals' fourth consecutive paper cut, another bouncer up the middle which scored Butler, making it a 3-2 game.
Seven Royals would come to the plate before Fister finally got out of trouble, ironically on the first ball hit in the air. Bonifacio flew out to center, stranding a pair.
Davis continued living dangerously, stranding a pair of base runners for a second straight inning. After two were out, Andy Dirks walked and Infante singled. The Tigers tried to force the issue by starting the runners, but Pena bounced out to first, ending the threat.
Davis had a pitch count of 75 through just three innings. He wouldn't be long for the game at this rate.
Top of four, the human element struck again, making themselves the center of attention. Worse, it became a circus, the umpires continually shooting themselves in the foot.
Getz on first with a single, Fister's pitch to Escobar was in the dirt. Escobar checked his swing, but the ball hit his bat (replays obviously confirmed it) and bounced to the backstop. As Pena stood at the plate waiting for the ball to be handed to him, home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski allowed the play to continue. Fister, finally realizing Muchlinski was both deaf and blind, raced after the ball as Gertz advanced all the way to third.
Instead of a 2-2 count and a runner on first, it was a 3-2 count with the runner on third. Pena and Fister were incensed.
The umps convened, and didn't change the call. Leyland calmly accepted it ... until he was informed just how badly the call was botched in the dugout. A very agitated Leyland started yelling from the dugout, making swinging motions. First base umpire Bob Davidson doubled down on making a bad situation worse by throwing Leyland out of the game.
After Leyland got his verbal pound of flesh, play resumed, but the Baseball Gods decided they needed a laugh. Escobar bounced the next pitch down the left-field line for an RBI double, driving home the tying run. The game now tied at 3-all, the Tigers, and especially Pena, were justifiably pissed.
After the game-tying hit, instead of letting an angry Pena vent, Muchlinski tossed the Tigers' catcher even though he had done nothing to show the umpire up. Pena never even turned around, until he was tossed. Bryan Holaday hastily warmed up as an infuriated Pena took out his frustrations by throwing his mask in the dugout.
Fister would compose himself and get out of the inning when Butler bounced into a double play. But the Tigers had lost the lead, their manager and their starting catcher, all thanks to umpire incompetence.
Bottom half of the inning, the angered Tigers would get the run back, thanks to Cabrera.
Iglesias reached base by legging out his second hit of the infield variety, a comebacker which glanced off Davis' glove. Iglesias would advance to third on consecutive ground balls off the bat of Austin Jackson and Kelly. In need of a two out hit, Cabrera came through by slapping a double into the right-field corner, RBI number 116 giving the Tigers back the lead at 4-3 (MLB.com video).
Ned Yost had seen enough of Davis, yanking his starter for lefty Will Smith. He would strand Cabrera at second on what's become a far-too-common occurrence - Fielder going fishing on a breaking ball out of the zone and striking out.
Fister appeared to be on the ropes in the fifth, the Royals putting a pair of runners in scoring position with two down. Moustakas singled, gimping to third when Bonifacio sent a line to deepish right, using his speed to leg out a double. Seemingly ready to be pulled with his pitch count pushing 100, Fister kept the Royals at bay and the Tigers in the lead when Getz flew out to center.
Surprisingly, after base runners where everywhere for 4 1/2 innings, both Smith and Fister starting mowing batters down.
After taking over for Davis, Smith retired six in a row and 7-of-8 through six innings. At the same time, Fister caught a second wind, retiring the Royals in order in the sixth. The Tall Man was still on the mound to start the seventh. He induced a Butler ground ball to short on his 118th pitch, then received a nice hand from the sellout crowd as Gene Lamont made the trek to the mound to make the pitching change.
Drew Smyly took over for Fister. With two outs and lone swing of Perez's bat, the Royals had tied the game, Fister was hung with a no-decision and Smyly had given up his third home run of the season. Behind in the count 1-2, Perez yanked an off-speed pitch down the line, his high fly ball wrapping around the foul pole. Perez's solo shot was his fifth homer run of the season, knotting the game at 4-4.
Everyone's stomach dropped when pinch hitter Jamey Carroll sent a Smyly pitch to deep left. Dirks was able to camp under to the fly, just in front of the warning track, to end the inning.
Smith made it 8-of-9 retired when Cabrera bounced out leading off the bottom of the seventh. But Fielder's reverse splits came into play. Seeing Smith for the second time, Fielder buggy-whipped a 2-1 hanging breaking ball, smoking a line drive over the scoreboard in deepest right center. Fielder's 19th home run of the season and second of the series gave the Tigers back the lead at 5-4 (MLB.com video).
Martinez followed up the home run with line single to right. Dirks then took a four-pitch walk. After being lights out for two innings, Smith was out of gas. Yost was forced to make a move, calling right-hander Kelvin Herrera out of the bullpen. He would get out of the inning without further incident, but the damage was done.
Top of eight, Jose Veras was on the hill in place of Smyly. Leading off, Bonifacio sent a seeing-eye single up the middle. Everyone on the planet expecting him to steal, and as such, he didn't get a very good jump. A good throw has Bonifacio dead to rights, but Holaday's wasn't. His throw bounced to second, Iglesias whiffed on the catch, and Bonifacio found himself standing on third.
Getz reached out a slapped a single to center, tying the game at 5-5. The Royals then executed a perfect hit and run, Escobar's ground ball to right just getting past a diving Ramon Santiago, who had broken toward second to cover the bag. Of course, the Royals continued to force the issue, Escobar stealing second as Holaday's throw again arrived on one hop.
Runners on second and third with no one out, Veras and the Tigers were in DEEP trouble ... and proceeded to pull off a Houdini act.
Veras got a huge out when David Lough popped up to Cabrera. Both not wanting to mess with Hosmer (and set up a force at any base), he was issued an intentional pass. Veras then retired the Tiger Killer, Butler, who looped a soft liner to Cabrera. Bases still juiced, Gordon sent a hard ground ball to Fielder. The big man made the play ... with a sensitive part of his anatomy.
Fielder kept himself together long enough to lob a throw to Veras to get third out, then writhed on the ground in pain.
Herrera gave up a couple of hard-hit balls, but kept the Tigers off the scoreboard in the eighth. Iglesias led off with a single, his third hit of the game. Jackson was asked to lay one down, couldn't, and lined out to right. Kelly smashed a one-hopper to the left side, but Carroll made an excellent play, starting a 5-4-3 double play. Inning over, still tied at 5-5 as we headed to the ninth.
Lamont decided to not go with Bruce Rondon in the top of the ninth, rolling with Joaquin Benoit instead. It made sense in as the home team, the Tigers would not have save situation from this point on out. Lamont went with his best reliever.
Unfortunately, Benoit walked Perez after getting ahead in the count 0-2. Here we go...
Carroll sacrificed the runner into scoring position. Perez moved another 90 feet when Bonifacio bounced to first. Getz then made an odd decision, trying to bunt for a base hit. Fielder made the play, tagging Getz as he lunged for the bag, stranding Perez at third. Getz was ticked, thinking he was safe, but replays verified Fielder made the tag.
Bullet dodged, the Tigers had the meat of the order due up - Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez. Fielder and Martinez wouldn't be needed.
Aaron Crow had given up the only Tigers' run on Friday, a home run to Santiago. Bottom of nine, Crow was back on the mound for the Royals, facing the best hitter on the planet, Cabrera. The count 3-1, Cabrera got all of a 96 MPH fastball.
CA-BOOM!!!!!!!!!— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 18, 2013
That was both the sound of the ball leaving the bat and the Comerica Park sellout crowd as the ball sailed over the right field wall.
WALK OFF GAME OVER (MLB.com video).
Cabrera's 39th home run and 117th RBI gave the Tigers a 5-4 victory and the Royals a soul crushing loss. The Tigers battled back to beat both the Royals (a VERY good team) and the umpires (the less said, the better).
Then everyone celebrated.
As for those umpires? They admitted their mistake after the game.
"Obviously, we didn't see it touch the bat from the bases," crew chief and second-base umpire John Hirschbeck told a pool reporter. "Out on the field, we're 120 feet away. We couldn't tell, and Mike Muchlinski, who had the plate, could not tell either."
First-base umpire Bob Davidson interjected at that point.
"That's really on me, because I should have seen the ball change directions," he said. "That's impossible for the plate guy to see, because the ball is in the dirt and he's got the catcher in front of him. The only hope is that you can hear it."
That's all well and good, but it still doesn't make the ejection of Pena remotely justified. Replay, flawed though it may be, can't get to the big leagues soon enough. When even Little League can pull off replay, well, that says it all about baseball having remained in the replay dark ages for far, far too long. Human element, my ass.
The victory, just the third walk off of the season, raised the Tigers' record to 72-51. Their .585 winning percentage tops the American League (by .001 over the Red Sox, but hey!). The Indians started the night six games back and are playing late into the night out in Oakland. The Royals give back one of the games they gained Friday, falling 7 1/2 behind in the Central.
A long five-game series comes to an end Sunday, the Royals' sending Bruce Chen (5-0, 1.62 ERA) to the mound to face Max Scherzer (17-1, 2.85 ERA). Known as "Cy" Chen to Tigers fans (in spite of his 5-7, 5.15 ERA career record against the Tigers), since re-entering the Royals' rotation, the veteran lefty is 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA in six starts. A true Cy Young candidate, Scherzer is undefeated in five second-half starts, going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA. Scherzer received a no-decision in his last appearance despite posting a quality start against the White Sox. First pitch at Comerica Park will be 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
It's Saturday and thankfully the Tigers are not on FOX's national broadcast. Neither is Joe Buck, even if the denizens of the interwebs think otherwise.
Getting ripped for my "biased" calls for AND against Yankees in today's game. Only problem is I'm not doing the game - proves a point - wah— Joe Buck (@Buck) August 17, 2013
The "wah" is a nice touch. Say what you will about Buck as a broadcaster, but his true personality comes out on Twitter.
Last night there was concern for the Mud Hens' Hernan Perez, who left the game to tend to a family emergency. John Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports all is well.
First, the best news of the day: 2B Hernan Perez is with the team and is back in the lineup. Perez left yesterday’s game when he found out his pregnant wife was in an automobile accident outside the ballpark. His wife and unborn baby are well.
Why was Don Kelly batting second tonight? A career .500 batting average (4-for-8) against Wade Davis, that's why. Kelly singled and scored in the first inning, proving the method to Jim Leyland's madness.
Rod Allen on the fan-base panic over a double-header sweep:
"I don't have enough life boats for all them folks" -Rod Allen— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) August 17, 2013
Bottom of the third, the "Rod Allen charges the mound and chases the pitcher all over Japan" incident came up. You know what that means!
ROD TELLING JAPAN STORY. GO DRINK EVERYTHING STORED UNDER YOUR KITCHEN SINK!!— PCB (@PhilCokesBrain) August 18, 2013
Any excuse to post the video is fine by me!
The reaction ti the blown call in the fourth was swift and vicious.
Umps can hear an under-breath "FU" all the way in the dugout, but can't hear a ball hitting a bat two feet away. Pathetic.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) August 18, 2013
If this was Little League, Leyland would've been able to challenge. Little League umps in MLB doesn't afford that opportunity, however.— Detroit4lyfe (@Detroit4lyfe) August 18, 2013
@crashdavis9 Crash: That's why I was surprised Leyland was run, although Davidson is part of this crew. They knew they missed the foul tip.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 18, 2013
MLB's umpires are a collective joke. Embarrassment level is at an all-time high.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) August 18, 2013
Here we go. Umpire flat-out blows a call, then tosses Leyland AND Pena. When you screw up, why do these arrogant SOBs make it worse???— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) August 18, 2013
And then Pena doesn't even show you up and you toss him. Because YOU screwed up. These guys are a mockery— rcloserwashighonweed (@spacemnkymafia) August 18, 2013
Said it before say it again. Most arrogant bunch in pro sports, major league umpires. No accountability— Mark Champion (@nbamark) August 18, 2013
Arrogant SOB blows call, throws witnesses out of the game.
FSD's close-up of Joaquin Benoit as Miguel Cabrera went yard in the ninth.
After tonight's heroics, I think the following will be a common refrain from the national baseball media...
Can we just give Miguel Cabrera the AL MVP award right now? #Tigers— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 18, 2013
Miguel Cabrera: Amazing. Simply amazing. Even Jim Leyland is running out of superlatives to describe Cabrera's season.
Prince Fielder: The Tigers don't win this game without Fielder's bat. Had a huge home run in the seventh and sacrificed his man parts for the cause.
Victor Martinez: Two more hits and an RBI for the Tigers' DH.
Doug Fister: Battled his way to a quality start, pitching into the seventh.
Jose Iglesias: Pulled off a rare (even more so for the Tigers) squeeze bunt, had three hits and an RBI.
HP: Mike Muchlinski.
1B: Bob Davidson.
2B: John Hirschbeck.
3B: Quinn Wolcott.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
In a loss completely lacking in offense, the only real choice was spot starter Jose Alverez. The rookie lefty deserved better, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings. Alvarez was rewarded with an overwhelming PotG victory, carrying 89% of the vote.