After uncharacteristically sleepwalking for the first six innings, the Detroit Tigers offense was forced to do something they haven’t had to do in weeks; wake up late to lead the team to victory. Rick Porcello did a decent job holding the Tigers in the game, only surrendering three runs while striking out four over six innings pitched. The Tigers would rally in to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth, take the lead in the seventh, and break another tie in the bottom of the eighth for a thrilling 5-4 win.
Following the continuation of Al Albuquerque’s wizardry in the top of the seventh, Wilson Betemit’s clutch triple put the lead run into scoring position in the bottom of the inning, and a wild pitch gave the Tigers a slim 4-3 lead. Ryan Perry would waste no time giving the lead right back in the top of the eighth, but then Jhonny Peralta just cleared Shelley Duncan (and the left field fence, not sure which is taller) with a solo home run to put the Tigers ahead for good 5-4. As you can imagine, with Jose Valverde, that lead was in good hands. He struck out two in the ninth to finish the 2011 regular season with his 49th save in a row. The late innings were a microcasm of the second half for both teams. The Indians have figured out how to blow games in every way possible, and the Tigers have found every way to win them.
The win gives the Tigers a 50-31 record in front of the home fans this year, and the over 2.6 million fans who packed the stands at Comerica Park this season can certainly appreciate that sterling home field effort. The bad news? The Texas Rangers won as well, so that means the Tigers will not open at home. They are headed to the Bronx for another postseason date with the New York Yankees.
Tigers’ MVP: Miguel Cabrera. Though Peralta was the hero and certainly deserving of MVP honors thanks to his winning home run and fantastic season, Cabrera clinched a batting title with two more clutch hits tonight. With his hot September, he’s also snuck into the discussion for the American League MVP in recent weeks as well. The big fella has been the Tigers’ offensive MVP all season long, so it is wise for us to give him one final shout out here prior to the playoffs for his hard work over 162 games.
Tigers’ Goat: Ryan Perry. It might sound cliche, but look up the definition of inneffective in the dictionary and you will see Perry’s face. With a win on the line, the reasoning behind using Perry instead of Benoit is mysterious. Still, Jim Leyland trotted him out there in the eigth, and he was wild again, allowing a double and walking two runners before giving up the lead. Perry did induce a ground ball to preserve a tie and his offense rallied to get him the win, but if Leyland is wise, he keeps a human gas can in Perry as far away from the playoff roster as possible.
Where They Are At: Resting up prior to the playoffs and traveling to New York.
What’s Next: Game one of the 2011 American League Division Series on Friday. The Tigers will send their consummate ace Justin Verlander to the hill. Expect the Yankees to counter with C.C. Sabathia.