Johnny Damon’s Walk-Off Lifts Tigers in 11


Baltimore 5, Detroit 7 (box)

What started as something of a pitcher’s duel became a wild affair at Comerica Park last night.

Tigers starter Armando Galarraga and Orioles hurler Jake Arrieta each pitched into the seventh inning, and the score was 1-0 Tigers after six. Baltimore finally got on the board when Nick Markakis lined a two-run homer to right off Galarraga, and extended their lead to 3-1 when Matt Wieters, who tripled, was driven home by Felix Pie.

At 4-1 Baltimore entering the bottom of the eighth, the Tigers began their comeback. Miguel Cabrera opened the inning by tripling to deep centerfield, his first triple since 2008. Brennan Boesch followed with an RBI single and he came home one out later when Brandon Inge drove the gap for a triple of his own. (more after the jump)

It looked like the Tigers would tie the score right then, but Alex Avila fanned with one away, and the Tigers wound up stranding Inge at third. When the O’s added a run in the top of the ninth, the game figured to be over.

Orioles closer Alfredo Simon opened the inning with a walk to Johnny Damon and one batter later he hung a splitter to Cabrera on the very first pitch of the at bat. Cabrera nearly came out of his shoes, but swung and missed. After Simon showed a fastball, he went back to the splitter and hung another one. This time, Cabrera hammered it deep into the left field stands to tie the game at five.

It would stay that way until the 11th, when Austin Jackson singled against David Hernandez to lead off the inning. The next batter was Damon and Baltimore was expecting a bunt, but Damon watched two fastballs and fell behind 0-2. Hernandez went back to the well one too many times, however, and Damon dropped the barrel on another fastball and launched a no-doubt walk-off homer to right field.

Cheers for

  • Johnny Damon– Damon became just the 92nd player all-time to collect 2500 hits with his third inning single. Obviously the homer won the game, but his walk to open the ninth gave Cabrera a chance to tie the score.
  • Miguel Cabrera– My oh my, he is fun to watch. Cabrera’s flair for the dramatic came through once again last night. He has 21 bombs and 73 RBI so far, and he has committed to the Home Run Derby.
  • Armando Galarraga– Galarraga sort of fell apart in the seventh, but he’s pitched well enough for Detroit this year. After the game, he was optioned to AAA, where he will make one start before returning to Detroit as the Tigers don’t need a fifth starter until July 20.

Jeers for

  • Alex Avila– Avila just needed a fly ball to tie the game in the eighth, but struckout instead. Cabrera bailed him out, but that doesn’t change the fact that Avila failed to make a productive out in a big spot.
  • Scott Pickens– As I mentioned above, Cabrera will be a participant in the Home Run Derby this year and Pickens, the bullpen catcher, will be throwing to him. Pickens has been there twice before, and probably holds the record for lowest ERA ever in HR Derby competition. He held Brandon Inge without a homer last year and served up just one to Magglio Ordonez a few years back. I’m not sure he understands the concept.

As stated above, Galarraga was optioned out after the game, and the Tigers are purchasing the contract of RHP Robbie Weinhardt to take his place. Dave Dombrowski stressed that this was a planned move made simply to give the Tigers an extra reliever for the next few weeks as the schedule combined with the all-star break allows them to go with just four starters for a while.