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Indians 11, Tigers 10: Train wreck series ends in train wreck fashion - Alburquerque walk-off balk in 13th

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The Tigers end a successful road trip in miserable fashion. The bullpen blows leads in the ninth and 13th innings, capping off an awful series sweep with a walk-off balk.

Jason Miller

The Detroit Tigers ended their road trip in weird, painful fashion, swept by the Cleveland Indians 11-10 in 13 innings. How weird and painful was it?

  • The Tigers scored four runs in the first, only to give up six by the end of the second.
  • Max Scherzer had his worst start of the season, rocked for seven runs and 12 hits.
  • Miguel Cabrera and Brad Ausmus were ejected in the sixth inning for arguing with Tim Timmons over his odd strike zone.
  • Bottom of the ninth, Joe Nathan was two outs away from closing out a come-from-behind win, only to serve up a game-tying two-run homer to David Murphy.
  • Alex Avila gave the Tigers the lead with a 13th-inning solo home run.
  • Given a lead, losing pitcher Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque imploded in the bottom of the 13th, loading the bases.
  • The winning run scored via Alburquerque's walk-off balk with .193 hitting ex-Tiger Ryan Raburn at the plate.
  • The Indians used nine pitchers, the bullpen pitching a combined 11 innings.
  • The Tigers short-handed bullpen was forced to pitch 4 2/3 innings. They could not get to the final 1/3.
  • The Indians had run out of both position players and pitchers. Terry Francona was forced to use Mike Tomlin, tomorrow's scheduled starter, to pitch three innings of relief. Tomlin got credit for the win.

Doesn't get much weirder than that.

Before anyone freaks out over the Tigers getting swept, losing two games in extra-innings, keep this in mind. The 1984 Tigers were in a very similar situation as the 2014 team.

The Tigers were riding high and mighty, arriving in Seattle as the talk of the sports world. They were an unstoppable force, having won nine games in a row to raise their record to a best in baseball 35-5. The Mariners had been swept by the Tigers a week earlier, falling to .500 on the season thanks to a 2-8 skein.

One team was rising, the other falling. What happened?

The Mariners made the Tigers look like just another team in a three-game sweep.

Feels like deja vu all over again, doesn't it? I don't know about you, but I hope the 1984 deja vu continues.

What a difference 13 hours makes. The Tigers struggled mightily against Trevor Bauer Tuesday night. Facing Zach McAllister, who has been impersonating an on-mound dumpster fire for the last month, the Tigers came out swinging. Even better, they were hitting.

Rajai Davis led off the game with a single. Ian Kinsler hit a shot to third, Lonnie Chisenhall making a diving stop. But his rushed throw to first sailed into the camera well. The E-5 allowed Kinsler to reach second, Davis third.

Miguel Cabrera's liner to right was deep enough to plate Davis with the game's first run. It was Cabrera's 40th RBI, only two back of AL leader Jose Abreu.

Kinsler had advanced to third on Cabrera's fly ball. He scored when Victor Martinez's chopper bounced into right for an RBI single and 2-0 Detroit lead.

If it wasn't obvious J.D. Martinez loves to hit in Ohio (ten homers with the Mud Hens, a big fly Monday night) he barreled up on a 1-0 fastball, launching an opposite field home run to right. The second home run of the season for Martinez the Younger increased Detroit's lead to 4-0 ( video).

Tribe lead-off man Michael Bourn greeted Max Scherzer with his fourth hit of the series, doubling into the right field corner.  Also having a big series was Asdrubal Cabrera, who followed up the Bourn double by being given a gift single. Three Tigers surrounded his pop fly to short center, but Austin Jackson couldn't get to the ball while Danny Worth and Ian Kinsler watched each other as the ball dropped for a base hit.

Scherzer wild pitched the runners to second and third, Bourn scoring on a David Murphy sacrifice fly.

Quite possibly because of the early start, both teams looked badly out-of-sync in a badly played first inning. The Tigers were less out-of-sync, exiting the first with a 4-1 advantage.

The Tigers were still struggling in the bottom of the second. Scherzer allowed back-to-back one out doubles to Chisenhall and Mike Aviles, the Indians pulling within two runs at 4-2.

Worth allowed a second ball to drop in center, apparently losing Bourn's pop fly to short center in the sun. A second gift single extended the inning, ultimately costing the Tigers two runs when Scherzer served up a two-RBI single to Michael Brantley. Scherzer and the Tigers' defense had fumbled away a 4-0 lead, the game now tied 4-4.

Scherzer proceeded to cough up the lead by allowing Brantley to steal second, then serving up the fourth Tribe double in two innings. Murphy's drive off the left field wall plating Brantley gave the Indians the lead at 5-4. Nick Swisher's RBI single made it a 6-4 game, an uncharacteristically hittable Scherzer having allowed eight.

Phil Coke was warming up, preparing to enter the game if Scherzer couldn't right the ship. The Tigers were down two relievers (Justin Miller sent to Triple-A to keep Robbie Ray on the roster, Evan Reed tossing two innings last night), so Coke would have to step up as the long man.

The 2000-year-old man, Jason Giambi, extended the inning with a walk. But Carlos Santana ended a long, difficult frame for Scherzer on a fly ball to left. The Tribe had sent ten to the plate, scoring five times on six hits. Scherzer had already allowed season highs of six runs and eight hits in just two innings.

Luckily for the Tigers, McAllister was still on the mound for the Indians. Martinez the Elder slugged a solo home run leading off the top of the third. His 12th homer of the season pulled the Tigers within a run at 6-5. Martinez the Younger then drew a base on balls, forcing Terry Francona to go to his bullpen for the first time of many.

Scott Atchison got some help from the Tigers getting out of the inning, Martinez the Younger thrown out trying to steal second.

Luckily for the Indians, a struggling Scherzer was still on the mound for Detroit. Chisenhall got the run McAllister allowed right back by leading off the bottom half of the third with a solo home run to right.

The game was crawling along, taking 90 minutes to reach the top of the fourth, the Tribe holding a 7-5 lead. Somehow both Atchison and (thankfully) Scherzer had relatively quick, scoreless innings.

Marc Rzepczynski took over in relief of Atchison in the fifth. The meat of the Tigers' order went to work, tying the slugfest at 7-all.

Cabrera got the ball rolling with a lead-off walk. Martinez the Elder sent him to third by doubling to left. Jackson pulled the Tigers within a run a 7-6 with a one-out sacrifice fly to deep right, Cabrera crossing the plate. Martinez tagged up as well, taking third.

Castellanos entered the game hitting .182/.182/.182 on the road trip. The slumping rookie came through with a big hit, his RBI ground rule double tying the game ( video).

That forced another pitching change, Carlos Carrasco getting out of further trouble.

Scherzer looked to be on the verge of even more trouble in the bottom of the fifth. The 2000-year-old man led off by singling to center, advancing to second on Scherzer's second wild pitch of the day. But Scherzer kept the ship afloat, retiring the next three batters, ending the inning with a pitch count of 90.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Detroit fan base and the hundred or so in attendance at Progressive field, the top of the sixth turned into "Umpshow, starring Tim Timmons: Cameos from Miguel Cabrera and Brad Ausmus."

Three straight Detroit batters, Davis, Kinsler and Cabrera, all had legitimate issues with Timmons' floating strike zone. After Cabrera turned around to say something about his checked swing being called as strike (which replay showed it was), rather than let him say his piece, Timmons gave the best hitter in the game an extremely quick thumb.

Aumus went into BOSSMUS mode, putting on an entertaining display of anger (and likely common sense, which would go over the head of most umps), quickly getting ejected as well ( video).

The general consensus?

Don Kelly finished off the at-bat by walking, moving Worth into scoring position with two down. But Martinez the Elder bounced out, stranding the lead run at second.

Coke was back warming up in the bottom of the six, Scherzer likely in his last inning of work. The Tigers' ace allowed two more hits, but got out unscathed. Bourn led off by singling, but was eliminated when the other Cabrera bounced into a 4-6-3 double play. Good thing, as Brantley's big game continued by doubling off the wall in center.

Rather than pitch around Murphy, the league's leading hitter with runners in scoring position, Scherzer went after him. He needed just one pitch to strand the lead run, Murphy popping up to Worth in foul territory.

Top of seven, Detroit threatened again, loading the bases after two were out. Castellanos singled, giving him the first three-hit game of his career. Carrasco walked Bryan Holaday, which led to the Indians' fourth pitching change of the game.

John Axford, looking like a teammate of Old Hoss Radbourn thanks to a handlebar mustache, took over. He compounded his problems by walking Worth on four pitches. But Davis was unable to replicate his recent magic with runners in scoring position, bouncing out to strand the lead run at third.

Scherzer's pitch count at 101, Ausmus hoped to get one more inning out of his starter. Scherzer delivered with a 1-2-3, 11-pitch inning, striking out a pair.

Scherzer, just like Justin Verlander last night, started the game as if he wasn't going to last more than a couple of innings. He scuffled along, exiting the game after seven innings, 112 pitches and seven runs. It was ugly, but Schezer had, at the very least, saved the bullpen.

Axford was battling his command, which is why he's no longer closing for the Tribe. He opened the eighth by allowing a single to Kinsler, then issuing a free pass to Donnie Baseball.

A wild game proceeded to get even wilder.

The Indians showed why they have struggled this season, botching what could have been a possible double-play ball off the bat of Martinez the Elder. Swisher fielded Martinez's high chopper, firing to second. But the on-target throw somehow handcuffed the other Cabrera, the ball glancing off the shortstop's glove and rolling into short left. Kinsler scored, Kelly raced to third, Martinez was safe at first, and the Tigers had retaken the lead at 8-7.

Martinez's the Younger ended Axford's day with an RBI single to center, Kelly scoring to extend Detroit's lead to 9-7.

Lefty Josh Outman was given the task of keeping the Indians within shouting distance. He did just that, keeping the Tigers off the board while retiring the three batters he faced.

But the Tigers had regained the lead and Scherzer had bridged the gap to the back end of the bullpen. Bottom of eight and up two at 9-7, Joba Chamblerlain entered the game for Detroit in setup duty. It was another solid outing for the bearded wonder, setting the side down in order. If you want to get punny, let's just say it was a good Joba by Joba.

Francona looked over the remains of his crumbling bullpen. He managed to find his seventh arm to use on the afternoon. Kyle Crockett tossed a scoreless top of the ninth, keeping the Tribe within two runs.

Looking for his 12th save, Joe Nathan took over for the Tigers in the ninth. but he would have to face the middle of the Tribe order to get it.

He wouldn't, as a crazy game turned bananas.

One out, Brantley singled. Harmless, right? Wrong. That made Murphy the game-tying run. He did just that by homering to right, his third and fourth RBIs retying the game at 9-all.

Nathan avoid completely crapping the bed, thankfully retiring the 2000-year-old man to end the inning. If Giambi had gone yard ... well God help us all.

We had free baseball for the second time in the series, the game reaching its fourth hour.

Top of ten, Crockett remained in the game. When Martinez the Younger walked after two were out, Francona decided a long game needed to be that much longer with his SEVENTH pitching change.

Bryan Shaw took over for the Tribe, retiring Jackson on a pop fly to center. At this point, if Francona needed another pitcher, he was down to one of his starters or a position player.

Ausmus rolled with Ian Krol in the tenth. The rookie lefty narrowly avoided disaster, assisted by the Indians' third base coach, Mike Sarbaugh.

Thanks to a one-out walk of Chisenhall and an Aviles single, the Indians had runners on the corners. Bourn lifted a fly ball to Davis in medium left. Making a call which Tribe fans will second guess, Sarbaugh sent Chisenhal despite the fly being rather shallow.

Davis throw was on-target, Chisenhall dead-to-rights as Holaday caught the ball on the short-hop and slapped on the tag. Inning over on the double play, the fourth outfield assist for Davis on the season ( video).

The Indians were out of relievers. Rather than use a position player (Ryan Raburn?), Francona elected to use one of his starters in the 11th. Josh Tomlin, who went six innings for Cleveland on Saturday and was supposed to start tomorrow against the Orioles, got the relief nod instead. It being one of those games, despite owning a  2014 K-9 rate of 3.9, Tomlin struck out the side.

Krol's 11th inning was far less dramatic than the 10th, retiring the side in order.

Tomlin found trouble in the 12th, Kinsler doubling with one out. The Indians had their choice of Martinez's to pitch to with two out and the lead run on second, electing to walk Victor and have Tomlin face J.D. The strategy paid off, Tomlin striking out the lesser Martinez to end the threat.

After warming up when it appeared Scherzer was not going to pitch deep into the game, Coke finally got his chance to pitch in the bottom of the 12th.

Coke walked Swisher on four pitches, bringing up pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn. Raburn showed why he was not loved in Detroit, swinging at the first pitch and bouncing into a 6-4-3 double play. Coke would walk Santana, but struck out Chisenhall for the third out.

Amazingly Coke only threw five strikes in 13 pitches and walked two, but did not allow a run.

On to the 13th and the fifth hour of baseball.

Tomlin was cruising along, having retired Jackson and Castellanos (who joined the "WTF" parade complaining to Timmons about his strike zone). Then strode Alex Avila to the plate, who had entered the game on defense in the 11th.

Avila jumped all over Tomlin's first pitch, drilling a line drive into the empty right field seats. Avila's fourth home run of the season gave the Tigers back the lead at 10-9.

Ausmus  (via his proxy, Gene Lamont) threw caution to the wind, rolling with Coke for a second inning. Al Alburquerque was warming up. So you know it wasn't going to be easy.

Aviles led off by singling into the hole at short. Worth got a glove on the ball, but had no play. Bourn laid down a bunt, a charging Castellanos making a marvelous bare-hand grab and throw to nip him at first. Coke then drilled the other Cabrera on the left knee.

Two on and one out, Coke did what Coke does -- allowed another base runner. Brantley singled to left. Davis was unable to bail out a Tigers reliever, Aviles just beating the throw. The game was once again, tied.

Coke got the second out, Murphy bouncing the short as the runners advanced ti second and third. NOW Ausmus/Lamont, went to Alburquerque.

Yan Gomes, Francona's last position player, was given an intentional pass to load the bases.

A train wreck of a game would have to end in train-wreck fashion.

Raburn at the plate, Albuquerque flinched while standing on the rubber.

A walk-off balk? Correct, a walk-off balk.

Game over. ON A BALK.

Your final score is Indians 11, Tigers 10.

The Tigers go from facing ground hamburger (Zach McCallister) on the mound to Filet Mignon (Yu Darvish) in the start a four-game series with the Texas Rangers Thursday afternoon. Tigers' rookie Robbie Ray (1-0, 0.75 ERA) gets the unenviable task of taking on Darvish (3-2, 2.32 ERA).

Again a big part of the Cy Young discussion, Darvish is coming off another marvelous start. He allowed just two runs over eight innings, but received no run support in a 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays.  He has given up just seven hits in his last 16 2/3 innings, flirting with (and just missing) a no-hitter in a win over the Red Sox on May 9.

Ray has headed back to Triple-A before Rick Porcello's nagging side injury forced the Tigers to push back his next start to this weekend. Ray has tossed 11 1/3 innings of one-run ball in his first two big league starts.

Thanks to an odd Thursday afternoon start time, first pitch at Comerica Park is set for 1:08 PM.


Source: FanGraphs


Let the shortstop hot takes begin...

There was a huge scare in the sixth when Victor Martinez fell hard after crossing the bag and laid on the turf after trying to beat out a slow roller. The play went to review, the out call not overturned. At least Martinez was fine, leaving the field under his own power, without a limp.

Joe Nathan takes over in the ninth:

After David Murphy went yard:

And most of the replies were unprintable in polite company.

Streaks and stats:

Max Scherzer allowed seven runs in the first three innings. That's the most runs he's given up in a game since giving up seven to the Red Sox on April 8, 2012.

Victor Martinez's home run in the third was his eighth home run in May. That's the most he's ever hit in one month in his career. The eight big flies are second in MLB for the month. Edwin Encarnacion has nine for the Blue Jays.

A tale of two careers in six hits -- one career closer to the end than the beginning, the other just starting: Victor Martinez's three-hit game was his fourth this season, giving him 113 in his career. Nick Castellanos' had three hits in one game for the first time in his young career.

Thanks to his eighth-inning single, Ian Kinsler extended his hitting streak to seven games. Meanwhile, Prince Fielder won't travel to Detroit, saying, "I don’t give a [expletive] about the Detroit series."

Due to getting tossed during an umpshow, Miguel Cabrera's hitting streak came to an end after 11 games.

Rajai Davis throwing out a runner at the plate in the tenth was his fourth outfield assist of the season, tied for second in the AL.

The Tigers drew a season-high nine walks.

Alex Avila homered in the 13th, becoming the first Tiger to go yard in the 13th inning or later since Darrell Evans on August 22, 1985 at Oakland.


Alex Avila: Loves to hit huge home runs in Cleveland. If the bullpen had not coughed up the lead, Avila's homer would have been one of those,  "Remember that wild come-from-behind win?" games fans bring up at the end of a successful season. Thanks to Coke and Alburquerque, the homer ends up in history's garbage can.

J.D. Martinez: The slugging reserve outfielder had a pair of hits and three RBIs, helped keep the Tigers in the game while Scherzer was struggling.

Victor Martinez: The slugging veteran DH cannot be stopped. Three more hits gives Martinez a Cabrera-esque OPS of .998.


Nick Castellanos: A day after appearing overwhelmed at the plate, the rookie bounced back with the first three-hit game of his career. Castellanos' day included one of the biggest hits of the game, a two-out RBI double in the fifth which knotted the game at 7-all.

Max Scherzer: Looked to be dead in the water, but somehow, someway gutted out seven innings, not allowing a run over his final four innings. There's something to be said for intestinal fortitude, and Scherzer showed it in spades.


Joe Nathan: Last game of a road trip, the bullpen shorthanded and two outs away of completing a come-from-behind win to avoid a series sweep is high on the list of "the worst possible times to blow a save."

Phil Coke: Why? Why? Why? WHY? I think people would find this loss far easier to accept if anyone other than Coke had been used in the 13th.

Al Alburquerque: Never threw a pitch in anger in one of the more ridiculous outings you'll ever see. Issued an intentional walk then balked home the winning run.


Max Scherzer: A near identical looking outing, but worse statistically, to rotation-mate Justin Verlander. Scherzer was awful for two innings and shaky the rest of the way. But he saved the bullpen by pitching seven innings.

Brad Asumus and Gene Lamont (by proxy): Their use of Phil Coke was utterly mystifying, baffling, and just plain dumb. Ausmus used Coke twice in the series, twice got a shaky scoreless inning out of him, twice tried to get two innings out of him, twice had it blow up in their face.

Umpire Tim Timmons: (Said in voice of The Simpson's Comic Book Guy) Worst. Strike. Zone. EVER.


Total comments 1,276
Total commenters 82
Commenter list Alex Baker, AlohaTigersFan, BadCompany22, Bent82, BigAl, BigMaxN, Briefcase_Wanker, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, ExTeeBallPitcher, Fielder'sChoice, Fitz74, Grand Rapids Howie, Grzesio, Honeyman, J_the_Man, Jacob30, Jim Bunn, Kazoonole, Kevin Walsh, Kwisatz Haderach, LoganB, MSUDersh, Mark in Chicago, MotorCityCat, Mr.Rogers, Muttcutts, NCDee, Naqamel, Naysayer N San Diego, Nonsuch Ned, Not a Gunslinger, Parisian Tiger, Rafael Tigers, Rob Rogacki, RoverTO, SanDiegoMick, ShowingBunt, Singledigit, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, Thorpac, TimePilot, Toivo, Tyrannosaurus Cobb, Vreeland2, aarone46, aelix, akastelic, ccapilla, dimes5, dishnet34, dmakian, dominator039, draykov44, facetiously, fwgeneral, gf206, ja_zz, japobere, jgrubbs, jippolito, jmar77, josejose50, jwitzsc, knucklescarbone, lesmanalim, lithium, longview, martypwb, matts1022, mrsunshine, originalfrostys, praynstayhumble, rea, snizo, stevenyc, subic sailor, texastigerfan, warghoul, zkello
Story URLs


# Commenter # Comments
1 SanDiegoMick 117
2 jgrubbs 86
3 Rafael Tigers 84
4 snizo 59
5 texastigerfan 58
6 DJ Screw 54
7 knucklescarbone 46
8 NCDee 44
9 SpartanHT 36
10 Nonsuch Ned 36
11 Bent82 36


# Recs Commenter Comment Link
10 jmar77 I'm blaming this series on Zubris
8 dominator039 true that Rod
7 NCDee [no title]
5 japobere Whatever they have to do to feel better about themselves and their shitty team
4 mrsunshine Yep
4 gf206 [no title]
3 Kwisatz Haderach Umpires are doing a fantastic job convincing me they're totally unnecessary so far this year.


In the first Tigers game in some time lacking numerous PotG candidates, Alex Avila stood out by reaching base three times and crushing a long home run. Avila was rewarded by taking the PotG vote with 92%.