Aug 5, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila (13) rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run as Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Chris Perez (54) watches the ball during the ninth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a big series. Huge series. Possibly — being four games and on the road and everything — the most important series remaining on the Detroit Tigers’ schedule. But for eight innings the offense didn’t play like it. Anibal Sanchez pitched his behind off — allowing just two runs in 7.2 innings on four hits and two walks to go with eleven strikeouts — but his teammates still hadn’t supported him with even a single run when he exited the game.
But then the ninth inning happened.
Cleveland closer Chris Perez came in to close out the game with a 2-0 lead to face the 4-5-6 hitters, but it wasn’t going to be his night. Prince Fielder led off the inning with a double, and Victor Martinez followed with an RBI single to left. Hernan Perez would come in to pinch run for Martinez, but he wouldn’t need to do any sprinting. Andy Dirks moved him over to second base by drawing a walk, and Alex Avila sent them all trotting home with a three-run homer to left center.
Joaquin Benoit came in and nailed down the save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. The Tigers heap the pressure on the Indians over the next three days with the win tonight. If the Indians can’t take two of the next three to at least force a split, they’ll have lost two games in the standings in their last home head-to-head series. A lot can happen though, and this thing is obviously far from over.
- Alex Avila is now hitting .302/.362/.605 since the All-Star Break.
- Victor Martinez had three hits on the night — all singles — to raise his wRC+ on the year to 99. After an atrocious start he’s clawed his way back to a league average line.
- Anibal Sanchez has now made six starts since missing some time with arm soreness. In those starts (37.0 innings), he’s allowed a 2.19 ERA .
- Since the DFA of Jose Valverde, Benoit has made 17 appearances, saved nine games, and allowed just one run (0.56 ERA).