The Detroit Tigers smacked three home runs in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game in Minnesota to take a 4-1 lead over the Twins, but with a magic number of two, they would need help from the Cleveland Indians to wrap up the division. That help seemed like it would come in the form of Indians’ closer Chris Perez.
Perez entered the top of the ninth in their game with the Chicago White Sox with a 3-2 lead and promptly blew the save by giving up a solo home run each to Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza. Unfortunately for Detroit, Addison Reed was unable to close out the 4-3 victory for the White Sox as Jason Giambi belted a two-out, two-run home run to win it for Cleveland in walk-off fashion.
The Tigers, now in the seventh inning, were able to hold off the Twins for an eventual 4-2 win to shave the magic number down to a single game. Detroit did clinch a Wild Card spot (at a minimum) with the win, but that was never the goal.
Doug Fister had a fairly excellent night as the Tigers’ starter. He went 6.1 innings, struck out seven batters, and allowed just two runs on seven hits and one walk. He left the game in the seventh inning with two runners on, but Drew Smyly and Al Alburquerque retired a batter each to get the Tigers out of the inning.
Bruce Rondon – who hasn’t pitched since September 2 with a tender elbow – entered the game in the eighth inning and struck out the side a combination of 100 mph gas and awkward swings on sliders. He really made the three Twins he faced look silly. Joaquin Benoit allowed a one-out double, but ended up striking out three in a rather uneventful ninth inning to save the game for the Tigers.
Offensively the Tigers were carried by three home runs in the fourth inning. A solo shot each for Victor Martinez and Omar Infante, and a two-run blast by Austin Jackson that plated Ramon Santiago. That would be all the run support the bats would provide, but it was enough to secure the win.
The Tigers, now needing only one win or one Cleveland loss, will have another opportunity to clinch the division tomorrow night in the Twin Cities before they head to Miami for the final series of the regular season.