Justin Verlander had to wait out a 20-minute delay for lack of lights at Comerica Park before he could take the mound on Friday for the Detroit Tigers against Johnny Cueto and the Kansas City Royals. He would leave the game in a similarly frustrating way. Nonetheless, the Tigers fought off a deficit in the 12th inning as Dixon Machado was the walk-off hero in the 5-4 Detroit win.
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The Tigers have now won three straight, all over playoff contenders. win
Trailing 4-3 in the 12th, the Tigers went to work with base hits from Anthony Gose and Miguel Cabrera. J.D. Martinez was walked to load the bases and V-Mart struck out on three pitches. Tyler Collins then came up and worked a walk on five pitches to tie the game again.
Machado, facing two strikes, laced a ball down the left field line that dropped in, allowing Rajai Davis (pinch running for Miggy) to score the winning run.
As has been the case for most of his 2015 starts, the Tigers’ bats were sluggish providing run support for their ace (scoring just nine runs over his previous 40+ innings), until they plated two runs in the eighth inning to seemingly put J.V. in place for a complete game victory.
Verlander just missed out on his second complete game of the season, departing after Eric Hosmer hit a soft line drive into right with two outs in the ninth inning. His final line was driven up because his replacement, Alex Wilson, allowed a two-run tying homer to Perez in the top of the ninth inning. He finished by allowing five hits and two runs, striking out seven batters.
Brad Ausmus was lustily booed when he removed Verlander from the game, and this no doubt will cause controversy for the more than likely lame duck skipper of the Tigers after what happened immediately after.
The Tigers had a good shot to walk off in the ninth inning when they started a two-out rally. With runners on the corners and two-out, Cabrera engaged in a 9-pitch at-bat that ended with a harmless pop-up.
It stayed tied until the top of the 11th when Drew VerHagen allowed a lead-off single in the top of the 12th inning. A stolen base, a sacrifice bunt and an fielder’s choice (another great play by Kinsler to keep the ball out of the outfield) gave the Royals the go-ahead run.
It looked like perhaps it would be a different offensive story early on Friday night as Detroit plated the first run with a Miguel Cabrera double that pushed home Ian Kinsler. It snapped Miggy’s 0-for-20 slump, his second longest hitless streak as a Detroit Tiger. The Tigers hit Cueto hard in their last meeting (4ER, 9H, 6IP), part of a stretch in which he allowed 28 runs over his last five starts, yet he regained control quickly.
A resurgent Victor Martinez got a base hit and Dave Clark waived Cabrera around, but he was out by a mile–yet another lost run at home by the Tigers. It was their 24th out at home for Detroit, easily the largest number in the majors this season.
Verlander was sharp, retiring 10 straight batters at one point, but got into trouble in the fifth inning when he allowed a Salvador Perez base hit. He stole second and was brought home by Paulo Orlando for the tying run. It was nearly untied one batter later when Alcides Escobar hit it in the hole between first and second base, but Kinsler ranged far to his left and threw from the outfield to record the run-saving out.
It stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth inning when a leadoff double by Anthony Gose chased Cueto. With lockdown setup man Wade Davis in, Kinsler laced a single to right field and Cabrera hit a fly ball that scored Gose with the tie-breaking second run. It was the first time all season long that Davis had allowed an inherited runner to score.
Davis attempted a pickup throw to first and airmailed it down the right field line, allowing Kinsler to go all the way to third. After a J.D. Martinez walk, V-Mart hit a sacrifice fly to score the Tigers’ third run of the evening.