It was certainly a wild one on Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland as the Detroit Tigers attempted to stave off an Indians sweep at Progressive Field.
Things looked good from the start: Rajai Davis led off the game with a base hit, Ian Kinsler reached second base thanks to a throwing error by Lonnie Chisenhall (advancing Davis to third), and Miguel Cabrera brought home the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly. And the inning was just getting going.
Victor Martinez continued swatting the ball with an RBI single, and J.D. Martinez followed with a two-run home run to make it 4-0 Tigers. Cleveland starter Zach McAllister eventually got through the inning without giving up another run, but Detroit delivered major damage in the first inning.
Cleveland managed to scratch across one run off of Max Scherzer in the bottom of the first inning, but the tide really turned in the bottom of the second. Seven hits – three singles and four doubles – aided in the Indians striking four five runs to give them a 6-4 advantage after just two innings.
Victor Martinez led off the third inning for the Tigers and you know what that means: another home run. His 12th homer of the season brought Detroit back within a run. Unfortunately, Chisenhall would lead off the bottom half inning with a solo home run of his own to extend the Cleveland lead back to 7-5.
Somehow Max Scherzer would last through seven innings without allowing an additional run, but his final line wasn’t pretty: 7 IP, 7 ER, 14 H, 3 BB, 1 HR, 7 SO. But even with that line – seven runs in seven innings – he found himself in line for the win after the Tigers tied the game with two runs in the fifth – an Austin Jackson sac fly and a Nick Castellanos ground rule double – and then took a two-run lead in the top of the eighth – a V-Mart RBI groundout and a J.D. Martinez RBI single.
The game remained scoreless into the 13th inning when Alex Avila, who entered the game in the 11th, belted a solo home run to put the Tigers on top.
Phil Coke, who worked through a scoreless (but shaky) 12th inning, remained in the game but struggles. A single, sacrifice bunt, hit batter, and a second base hit brought in the tying run for the Tribe and, after a groundout, Coke was relieved by Al Alburquerque with runners on second third and two outs. Alburquerque fell behind the first batter, Yan Gomes, 2-0 before electing just to intentionally walk him. And then the magic happened.
With the bases loaded, Al Al started to come to the set position and then stopped. A balk was immediately signaled by the home plate umpire and the winning run was allowed to come home. A walkoff balk. What a way to end the strangest game ever.