For a brief moment it looked like all was right with the world. The Tigers had been held in check for eight innings, only producing five hits to that point. Then J.D. Martinez stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning and did what he has done all year. He came up with a clutch three run home run to right field. As he ran down the first base line, he put his index finger in the air, knowing he had just given the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
However, this is baseball and it doesn’t always work out the way you think it will. Joe Nathan came on in the bottom of the ninth to close the game, but promptly gave up a RBI double to Kurt Suzuki and a walk-off infield single to Aaron Hicks. The Tigers went from elation to despair in a matter of 15 minutes. This one was a tough loss to take as the Twins were able to get the 4-3 win, with Nathan blowing his seventh save of the season and taking the loss.
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The game turned out to be a pitchers’ duel between Rick Porcello and Ricky Nolasco. The Tigers had no answer for Nolasco’s breaking ball all evening. Nolasco was painting the strike zone with one breaking pitch after another. He gave up no runs in eight innings of work, but would not factor in the decision. Prior to the ninth inning, the Tigers were only able to get a runner to second base two times, with Victor Martinez reaching second in the fifth and seventh innings.
Rick Porcello was effective, but did not get any run support for the second outing in a row. He went eight innings, giving up two earned runs. Kennys Vargas provided all the offense for the Twins with a triple in the fourth inning and a no doubt home run in the sixth. Kid Rick probably wishes he had that home run pitch back as he threw one too many change-ups to Vargas.
Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera set the stage for J.D. Martinez’s heroics in the ninth as both reached base, putting runners on first and third with one out. Victor Martinez was unable to come through as he popped out to second. J.D. Martinez then stepped to the plate and hit a three run home run to right field. Time after time this season, J.D. has been absolutely clutch after the seventh inning.
Sep 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez (28) reacts after hitting a three run home run in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Twins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nathan was able to get the first batter he faced in the ninth, but then gave up a costly walk to Trevor Plouffe. Kurt Suzuki promptly stepped to the plate and drilled a line drive to center. Ezequiel Carrera tried to make the diving catch, but was not able to make the play. Doug Bernier, who came in to pinch run for Plouffe, scored the game tying run all the way from first. Somewhere Austin Jackson is watching and screaming out loud, “That’s why you don’t dive!”. Aaron Hicks then came up with two outs and hit a ground ball up the middle. Andrew Romine fielded it, but was not able to make the throw to first in time, giving the Twins a walk-off 4-3 win.
This was a tough loss to take for Tigers fans. In a matter of minutes, feelings of joy were soon shot down with sadness and frustration. J.D. Martinez was clutch yet again, but it was not meant to be this evening. The team will re-group and attempt to win the series tomorrow night as David Price (14-11) takes the mound against Kyle Gibson (11-11). First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM EST.
As I write this recap, the Chicago White Sox hold a 7-5 lead over the Royals in the seventh inning. Hopefully the White Sox can hold on and keep the Tigers 1 1/2 games up in the AL Central.