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Tigers 3, Rays 2: John Hicks had a walkoff safety squeeze and it was glorious

Hicks and JaCoby Jones combined to clinch a series win for the Tigers in extra innings.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays wrapped up their three-game set at Comerica Park this afternoon in a pitcher’s duel between Tigers ace Michael Fulmer and a red hot Blake Snell for the Rays. Behind late-inning heroics and a strong showing from the bullpen, the Tigers took the series in a 3-2 victory.

The game was a battle of small ball and pitch count early, but after a James McCann home run, the game turned into a battle of the bullpens in extra innings. Thankfully, the Tigers emerged victorious behind a strong showing by the bullpen, a JaCoby Jones triple, and a John Hicks walk-off bunt. Yes, you read that right: Hicks squeezed to win this game. Meanwhile, the bullpen pitched six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out six. A win via the bullpen and a safety squeeze. Just as we all expected.

Fulmer struggled in the early going but settled in for a quality start. In the first inning, He walked Denard Span to open the game and allowed a single to C.J. Cron immediately after. With runners on the corner and nobody out, Fulmer induced a fly ball from Matt Duffy, but then walked Brad Miller and allowed a single to Wilson Ramos to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. With thirty-one pitches thrown, only one out, and the bases loaded, Fulmer made Joey Wendle ground into a double play to end the threat.

After an ugly first inning, Fulmer gave up a run in the second due to some small ball by the Rays. First, he allowed a single to Carlos Gomez and hit Mallex Smith with a 96 mile-per-hour four-seam fastball. The Rays then played some small ball, as Adeiny Hechavarria deployed a sacrifice bunt to move up the runners and Span grounded out to score another run. Fulmer cruised until the sixth inning afterward, when Ramos began a small rally that ended in a Smith strikeout. Fulmer finished the day going six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while punching out five.

The Tigers played some small ball of their own in the fifth inning to score their first run of the day. Until the fifth inning, Blake Snell had only allowed one hit — a Jeimer Candelario double in the first inning — to Detroit. However, Hicks opened the fifth with a loud single to right field, which was very nearly a home run but instead bounced straight into Carlos Gomez’s glove off the wall. Then, McCann singled to left field, Jose Iglesias bunted to advance the runners, and Dixon Machado grounded out to bring in a run.

In the seventh inning, Snell came out for a third trip through the lineup with a strong pitch count and only three hits allowed on the day. He opened the inning allowing a single to Jones. Then, however, Hicks flew out to center field...and Jones tried — and failed — to advance. After Jones was out by a mile, McCann launched his second home run of the year 414 feet to left field to tie the game (even though it should have given the Tigers the lead). Jones redeemed himself late in the game, however, with a base hit in a ninth inning rally that very nearly won the game and his twelfth inning triple.

One encouraging Tigers performance today came courtesy of Alex Wilson. I wrote last week on Wilson’s early struggles and concluded that Wilson would return to form if he could prevent home runs at a similar rate as he has throughout his career. He did just that today, working a successful seventh inning while allowing just one hit after Fulmer departed.

Tweet of the Game


Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    John Hicks (2-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, Walk-Off Bunt)
    (245 votes)
  • 40%
    JaCoby Jones (3-5, Game-Winning Run)
    (201 votes)
  • 5%
    Michael Fulmer (6 IP, 26 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)
    (29 votes)
  • 4%
    James McCann (2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI)
    (20 votes)
495 votes total Vote Now