Toronto 5, Detroit 6 (box)
Magic Number 14
For Justin Verlander, this game had to feel eerily similar to all those starts he made in April. In six of his seven innings, the Blue Jays combined for just four hits and eight strike outs against the Cy Young candidate, but it was that one inning, the sixth, that looked like the Verlander of April.
With the Tigers leading by two entering the sixth, the Jays put the first two batters aboard for the second straight inning, this time, Verlander could not avoid the damage. A three run homer from Adam Lind and a solo shot from Edwin Encarnacion highlighted a five run frame for the Blue Jays that saw them post five runs on six hits. Just like that, the game turned from a sure Tigers win to a potentially devastating loss.
But these Tigers had a little fight left in them, and Jim Leyland pushed all the right buttons in the game’s final innings.
Jason Frasor took the ball in the ninth, trying to preserve a three run cushion. Curtis Granderson lead off with a bouncing ball to short that Marco Scutaro played off his hip and the ball scooted past him for an error. The Tigers would make it hurt.
Alex Avila was summoned to hit for Gerald Laird, and delivered a single to right, bringing the tying run to the plate as rain began to come down heavily. That tying run was represented by another pinch-hitter, Aubrey Huff, who was hitting for Ramon Santiago. Frasor fell behind 2-0 to Huff who turned on a high fastball and launched a game-tying three run bomb deep into the right field seats.
The Tigers took home the win in the 10th, when Brandon Inge and Granderson drew back-to-back one out walks from Brian Wolfe. Avila then hit a slow ground ball to first, but Scutaro couldn’t handle the throw from Lyle Overbay and Inge raced around from second to score the winning run.
- Aubrey Huff- Huff sat for eight and a half innings before picking up a bat in the ninth, down by three. The rain was heavy, but his bat was quick and Huff delivered for the Tigers in the maybe the biggest win of the season to date. The Washburn deal may not have been a great help for the Tigers to this point, but since a slow start to his Tigers career, Huff is hitting .313 in September with two home runs and 10 RBI.
- Jim Leyland- Say this for the Marlboro Man, if he was going to lose last night, it wouldn’t be because he didn’t try. By the end of the game, only Carlos Guillen and Dusty Ryan were left on the bench. Leyland freely subbed pinch runners and pinch hitters. They didn’t all make huge plays, but Avila and Huff came up big with the game on the line.
- Ryan Raburn- I am really starting to like this guy. Raburn lead off the game with his 12th home run of the year, then knocked in the Tigers’ second run withan RBI single. My wife asked how old he was, I told her and added that he wasn’t really a prospect at this point, she responded with “oh, yeah he is”. She wasn’t speaking of his baseball playing abilities.
- Curtis Granderson- Grandy walked twice for the second straight game. He still isn’t hitting, but he looks to be getting closer. He is seeing many more pitches than he saw in the past several games, and his patience is a sign that he could heat up soon.
- Marco Scutaro- The Jays shortstop is having easily the best season of his career, but he made two huge errors in the final two innings last night, leading to two unearned runs, including the game winner.
What’s on tap
The Tigers welcome the Royals for a three gamer starting tonight in Comerica Park. Jarrod Washburn (9-8, 3.60) takes the hill for Detroit as they look to extend their winning streak to three games. Robinson Tejeda(2-1, 3.21) brings his 19 inning scoreless streak to the mound for K.C., with the last six of those coming last week against the Tigers. Washburn fired eight shutout innings of his own the last time he faced the Royals back on August 14.
The White Sox were off last night ahead of a series in Seattle starting tonight. SafeCo Field has been Chicago’s own personal hell over the past several seasons, so they will need to turn that trend around to stay in the race.
The Twins trailed Cleveland 3-0 through seven innings last night, but the Indians’ bullpen did their best impression of, well, the Indians’ bullpen last night. Chris Perez gave up the lead and then the game in the eighth, allowing a long home run to Micheal Cuddyer to tie the score. A wild pitch brought home the go-ahead run before Jason Kubel launched a two run blast to seal the game for Minnesota.