Brandon Inge Delivers on Record Setting Night


Minnesota 10, Detroit 11 (13 inn.) (box)

Brandon Inge began the night just one strikeout behind Lou Whitaker for most in Tigers history. By the time, he came to the plate with one out in the 13th, Inge had not only tied Whitaker, he had passed him, and then added one more. With one swing, Inge turned the focus from negative to positive and gave the Tigers their third straight win.

If you managed to tune in on time on Saturday, you saw a vintage Jeremy Bonderman performance. Bonderman allowed a clean single to the first batter of the game, no harm done. After getting ahead on the next batter, he lost him to a walk. Bonderman didn’t seem unnerved by that, nor did he when he retired the third batter. But then he hit Michael Cuddyer with an 0-2 pitch and now you can visibly see him seething. The next batter fights off a two strike offering and singles home a run and Bondo’s frustration grows. Then Danny Valencia cleared the bases and put the Twins up 5-0 with still just one out.

It took a little while, but the Tigers began chipping away at Carl Pavano and his five-run lead.  Trailing 5-2 in the fourth, the Tigers broke out the big sticks. Alex Avila began the inning with a home run that cut the deficit to two. Don Kelly‘s two-run blast tied the game and Miguel Cabrera put the Tigers ahead with a mammoth two-run blast of his own.

What did Bonderman do with this wonderful gift from his teammates? He threw it back in their faces by serving up back-to-back homers to re-tie the game, that’s how. The Twins would add three more in the fifth, scoring once the Tigers turned to Eddie Bonine. He’s lucky that’s all they scored.

Once Bonine was lifted for Brad Thomas in the sixth, the Tigers staff held Minnesota without a run the rest of the way. Thomas and four others worked eight innings and allowed only four hits to the Twins. The Tigers plated two in the fifth and tied the game in the seventh. That was the last time either team scored until the 13th.

But it almost didn’t matter. In the top of the 13th, Minnesota loaded the bases thanks to an infield hit, a sacrifice, a double steal, and two intentional walks. With no room for error, Daniel Schlereth caught Jason Kubel looking and sat down Danny Valencia with a slider in the dirt, stranding the runners and keeping the game tied to set the stage for Inge’s heroics.

Just as the Twins had done in their half, the Tigers loaded the bags in the bottom. Johnny Damon‘s fourth hit of the night was a lead-off single, Cabrera followed with one of his own and all hands were safe when Jhonny Peralta‘s groundball was bobbled by Valencia at third. After a force at the plate, Inge stepped in against Randy Flores, desperately needing to put the ball in play. Considering that he had already become the most prolific Tiger in history at not putting the ball on play, this was no sure thing. But Inge lined a sharp single into right field, bringing home Cabrera, and winning the game for the Tigers.

So that’s just about it. Tomorrow afternoon is the final home game of 2010. I’ll be there, sitting in section 105A, hoping like hell that I’m not going to witness the last home game in the Tigers career of Inge. The guy is still too good with the glove to let him walk. I know there are other players that can do a passable job at the hot corner, but nobody plays like Inge on defense. Sure, he’s bad at hitting, but he doesn’t need to be great, just okay. He’s shown he can be okay at the plate most of the time.

I’m also wondering about Magglio Ordonez. He’s been absent from the team since breaking his ankle. I’m wondering if he’ll be back for the game tomorrow. It would be nice to have an opportunity to thank him for the past six years, you know, just in case this is the end of the road for Maggs.

If the Tigers can take down the Twins tomorrow, they’ll split the season series and that would mean that no Central opponent would have won the season series against Detroit. The Tigers have already wrapped up season wins over the Royals and White Sox. Detroit holds a 9-6 edge on Cleveland, whom they will take on for three games starting on Monday.