There must have been magic in the air…1984 magic. On a night when the Detroit Tigers celebrated their last championship team, the one vying for the next one may have just clinched their signature moment to this point in the season.
On a night in which the Detroit Tigers bats seemed to be as faulty as they were in Houston, it took nine innings for Rajai Davis to become a hero with a ninth inning Grand Slam to turn a 4-1 deficit into an incredible, improbably, walk-off winner, beating the AL-leading Oakland Athletics, 5-4.
The Tigers and Athletics have built up a nice rivalry over the past couple of seasons, and when they hook up, regular season or post-season, it’s usually an entertaining game and tonight was no different.
We expected a pitchers’ duel with Anibal Sanchez taking on Scott Kazmir and each held the opposing batters without a run through the first five innings. Oakland was first on the board, when Jed Lowrie scratched out an RBI bloop single to score Coco Crisp from third with two outs in the sixth. In the bottom half of the inning, Miguel Cabrera launched a shot into left field to tie the score at 1.
Anibal Sanchez pitched into the eighth and appeared to have the first out of the inning when Yoenis Cespedes bounced to Eugenio Suarez, but the shortstop airmailed it over Cabrera’s head. The next batter, Brandon Moss blasted a double, which scored the go-ahead run and it was the end of the night for Sanchez. Joba Chamberlain came in and seemed to be getting squeezed by the home plate umpire and walked two batters. A couple batters later, Lowrie struck again and laced a base hit that scored two to make it 4-1.
Sanchez’s final line was three runs (two earned) on eight hits. Anibal struck out only two batters and issued no walks.
With Oakland sporting one of the top bullpens in baseball, it seemed like it was going to be a tough mountain to climb for scuttling Tigers’ batters. They went quietly in the eighth, but the ninth inning was a different story. Facing stellar closer Sean Dolittle, Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila each notched a single. One batter later, Austin Jackson worked a clutch walk, and Davis stepped to the plate and sent a shot down the left field line that stayed fair and the ball game was over–walk-off grand slam.
The teams will regroup after that exciting win (or crushing loss depending on what side of Comerica Park you’re on) and play the middle game of their three-game series Tuesday night as Rick Porcello will be seeking his 11th win of the season. He’ll face Brad Mills, a new addition to Oakland’s rotation, acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers’ system on June 17. First pitch is set for 7:08 p.m.