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Stealing A Win


Seattle 3, Detroit 5 (box)

For seven and a half innings, it looked like one of those games.  Tiger fans have seen for too many games like this one.  The starting pitcher threw the heck out of the ball, but the Tigers fell behind and a two run deficit would seem insurmountable.

Coming into this game, the best the Tigers could realistically hope for was a pitcher’s duel.  Felix Hernandez was on the hill for the Mariners, carrying and 8-1 record and a sub-2.00 ERA on the road this season.  He may be the least talked about Cy Young candidate, but he’s certainly in the discussion.  He did nothing to hurt his chances last night.  King Felix fanned nine Tigers over seven innings, allowing just one run, and left with a 3-1 lead.

For his part, Rick Porcello showed a glimpse of what the future may hold.  Porcello, fresh off his five game suspension, matched Hernandez throughout.  He allowed a single to Ichiro Suzuki to begin the game, then didn’t allow another hit until the fifth.  His only mistake was a hanging change to Josh Wilson, that turned into a game tying solo home run.  Porcello struck out a career best eight hitters.

Ryan Perry took over for Porcello in the sixth, escaping an inherited bases-loaded jam.  He struck out the side in the seventh before a lead off single by Wilson chased him after one batter in the eighth.  That’s when the wheels kind of fell off for the Tigers.

Bobby Seay was summoned to face Suzuki, but a double put runners on second and third with no one out.  Two sacrifice flies by the Mariners gave them a two run lead needing just six outs for the win.

Mark Lowe was summoned from the M’s bullpen to start the eighth, and he was promptly greeted by a man-sized opposite field home run from Alex Avila.  Ramon Santiago followed with a sharp pinch-hit single.  Two batters later, Placido Polanco hit a hard chopper that got past Wilson to put runners on the corners with one out.  A Carlos Guillen walk loaded the bases for Miguel Cabrera, who came through this time with a clutch two run single to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

The Tigers added another run on a botched pick-off attempt of Cabrera.  El Martillo got himself in a rundown long enough for pinch-runner Ryan Raburn to race home, beating Russell Branyan’s throw, and pushing the lead to two.  Fernando Rodney made things a bit uncomfortable in the ninth, but fanned Branyan and Jose Lopez consecutively to strand the tying runners on second and third.

Overall this was exactly the kind of win the Tigers needed after losing the finale against Kansas City.  Anytime you drop a game you probably should have won, it feels better when you steal a win you probably should have lost.  Seattle’s bullpen has been very good all season, they won’t let too many slip through.  The Tigers showed some moxie in coming back and taking the opener of this series.

Cheers for

  • Adam Everett– He had a clutch two-out RBI single to bring home the Tigers’ first run.  He did a lot of that early in the season, but had been in a long dry spell.
  • Porcello– There are still obvious inconsistencies, but Kid Rick continues to impress overall.  Seriously folks, he had never pitched above class A ball before this year.  The sky is the limit.
  • Avila– His third bomb of the year ignited the eighth inning rally, and he has been very good behind the plate.
  • Cabrera– He hasn’t been all that good with runners on base this year, but he came through in a big way last night.  I had visions of an inning ending double play, but El Martillo put the game in the win column with his hit.
  • The Royals– KC took care of the White Sox in Chicago last night and the division lead is now at three games.  With each passing day, the Tigers chances of holding off Chicago increase.

Jeers to

  • Curtis Granderson– Sure, Hernandez makes a lot of good hitters look bad, but Grandy had no idea what to do with King Felix.  He faced Hernandez three time and struck out in each at bat.
  • Bobby Seay– Bobby gets the win, but he didn’t have it last night.  He inherited a runner, then allowed a double.  Both runners scored.  Twice he needed to get a pop-up or strike out, but each time the left handed hitter he faced was able to drive in a run. 
  • Mark Lowe– Lowe dropped his sixth decision this year on his fifth blown save.  It was is second straight outing in which he’d given up the lead.  Ask Tiger fans about hard throwing relievers with a penchant for such antics.  Lowe is having a Joel Zumaya-like season for sure.

What’s on tap

The Tigers will look to win the series when Justin Verlander (13-6, 3.28 ERA) takes the ball tonight.  Verlander will look for his 14th win of the season, which would tie Josh Beckett for the American League lead.  Ian Snell (2-9 5.84 ERA) takes the mound for the M’s.  In his last start, Snell coughed up eight earned runs in an 11-1 loss to the Yankees.  He lost a 3-1 decision to the Tigers back on June 12 while pitching for the Pirates, allowing 10 hits in seven innings.