It certainly was not a pretty win, but was certainly an exciting one for the Detroit Tigers, who took a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees on a game winning sacrifice fly by Omir Santos in the bottom of the ninth inning.
If you have been paying attention to the Tigers this year then you understand why so many were clenching their teeth before closer Jose Valverde even threw a pitch. Despite being perfect last year, Valverde has been up-and-down all year for Detroit and Saturday was one of his down nights. After loading the bases by hitting two players and walking another, Valverde walked in the winning run to allow the Yankees to tie it in the top of the ninth.
After Valverde’s choke job, it was an unlikely hero who took down the evil empire and bailed Valverde out. After a Brennan Boesch single, Jhonny Peralta single and an intentional walk to Ramon Santiago, the Tigers hero would step to the plate. Minutes after he failed to catch an easy foul fly to end the top of the ninth, Omir Santos strode into the batters box with the opportunity to make people forget about his inability to throw out runners and defensive errors.
Santos did just that, lifting a sacrifice-fly to Nick Swisher in right field to send Boesch home to score the winning run. It was one of the biggest hits of Santos’ career and an important one for the Tigers. They have the ability to take the series from the Yankees with Justin Verlander on the mound on Sunday and move one game closer to the lead in the American League Central.
Aside from Santos’ heroics and Valverde’s errors, Rick Porcello and Miguel Cabrera had very good games for Detroit. The inconsistent Porcello was able to turn in a sparkling outing, giving up just one run on six hits in six innings of work that also included a brief rain delay. It is a big step forward for Porcello, who has had trouble putting his team in a position to win.
Porcello got a little help from the big man in the Tigers lineup tonight too, with Cabrera hitting two mammoth home runs over 420-feet to dead center field. It gave the Tigers two of the three runs they would score before the ninth inning and really provided a jolt to the Tigers. The two balls were some of the deepest many have seen hit at Comerica Park and show why he is one of the best hitters in the American League.
Not to be forgotten, Don Kelly also had a very nice play in left field to take away a home run from the Yankees early on. It kept Detroit in the lead and was able to prevent New York from putting together an early inning rally to grab hold of a lead.
Tigers’ MVP: With almost 1,000-feet in home run distance, Cabrera is clearly the winner of tonight’s MVP Award. He is the best pure hitter in baseball and showed why on Saturday night.
Tigers’ Goat: Detroit needs to take a serious look at whether or not they want to continue to use Jose Valverde as their closer. It was another terrible outing and it almost cost this team the game. While yes he is 3-1, many of those wins have come after he has blown a save. If the Tigers hope to put a win streak together, they have got to get better pitching from their closer.