DETROIT -- If you came for a blowout or dull pitcher's duel, then this game would not be for you. The Detroit Tigers lead by two runs just once and neither team had a bigger lead at any other point. Even with Matt Boyd's strong start, the bullpen kept it close. The Kansas City Royals countered every move but finally the Tigers won 6-5 over the Royals in 11 innings, their first four-game winning streak since the season started.
Boyd may have given up two home runs, but they were the only two mistakes he made of the night. He struck out six batters and allowed just three hits across six frames, giving Kansas City little to work with. So, the Royals just waited until the Tigers bullpen emerged and kicked that lead to the curb.
Blaine Hardy got two outs, but he also allowed a hit that then brought in Al Alburquerque. He failed to record an out, walking two, balking, threw a wild pitch, and allowed the second run. Royals lead. Victor Martinez snatched it back by blasting a two-run shot to give Detroit a 5-4 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Tigers lead. Eric Hosmer homered in the eighth off Bruce Rondon. Tied ballgame. "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!" someone, somewhere cried.
The Tigers' offense stranded five batters over the course of three innings, including a bases-loaded situation in the fourth. It put the team in a situation where they couldn't afford many, if any, mistakes. Excellent defensive work by both Dixon Machado and Ian Kinsler kept the Royals from going anywhere for much of the night, especially Kinsler in the seventh when he saved a run on a diving catch shaded up the middle.
The lead changed hands five times within nine innings of baseball. The Tigers had the bases loaded in the ninth. On a sharp flyout by Andrew Romine, Kinsler went for home and was called safe. But an umpire review overturned the call, taking the game into extras. Kinsler took care of it for good the second time around when he clubbed a walkoff homer.
Matt Boyd: Kept the Royals to two runs and only three hits. Both of the runs he gave up were solo home runs. He also struck out six batters and walked only one.
Miguel Cabrera: Drilled a two-run opposite field single into right field to put the Tigers up 2-1 in the third inning. He also singled in the fifth and scored on a sac fly by V-Mart. Oh, and he walked and then reached in the ninth when he was hit by a pitch in what may have been his greatest acting in recent memory.
Victor Martinez: Had two quality plate appearances early on. A ripped double to left in the second and a walk in the fourth. He later hit a long, loud 397-foot sac fly to dead center, plating Cabrera to take the lead again. Oh, and then he blasted a two-run home run to right field for another lead in the eighth.
Ian Kinsler: Walked it off in the 11th with a solo home run to left. He'd also walked to start the game and singled in the ninth, nearly walking it off until the replay overturned the decision.
The bullpen: Coming close to their first four-game winning streak since the season began, the bullpen did its best to prevent that from ever coming to fruition. After six solid innings from Boyd, the bullpen coughed up two runs thanks to Blaine Hardy and Al Alburquerque. The latter couldn't even record an out but he did manage to walk two batters, throw a wild pitch, and he even balked for good measure before giving up an RBI single.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Since Sept. 5 Victor Martinez is batting .342 with a .381 on-base percentage in 43 plate appearances. His slugging is still a far cry from what it should be but he's been getting more contact in Sept. than he had for the entire month of August.
- Victor Martinez's double in the second was just his second of Sept., and only his fourth in the last month. His last was on Sept. 6 against the Indians in Detroit.
- Alex Avila's double in the third marked his first extra-base hit since Aug. 6, which also came against the Royals.
- Anthony Gose's stolen base in the third marked his 21st of the season, which remains the most on the team. Rajai Davis is second, with 15.
- Coming off the DL, Miguel Cabrera was hitting a scorching .395/.465/.605 in 86 plate appearances. But from Sept. 5-16 Cabrera hit just .105/.244/.132 with no RBI, one double, and only four hits with seven walks. Yet, in the last two games he's already tallied four hits with four RBI and a walk.
- J.D. Martinez went eight games without a double from Sept. 3-10. Since Sept. 13 he's batting .414/.469/.655 with four doubles and a homer.
- The Tigers played three consecutive extra inning games for the first time since September 1-3, 2010.
- The Tigers' four-game winning streak is the first for Detroit since the team opened the season 6-0. They have won three of their last series'.
- The Royals challenged the safe call at home plate in the bottom of the ninth that would have won the game for Detroit. After a review of two minutes and 10 seconds, the call was overturned to send the game into extra innings.
- It is the third career walkoff home run for Ian Kinsler. His last was on Aug. 6 against the Royals.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: