It had not happened in over 70 years, but the Detroit Tigers used a five-run sixth inning to power themselves passed the Kansas City Royals and clinch back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since the 1930s.
Rick Porcello took the mound looking for his tenth victory of the year and the Tigers looking for the last one of the regular season that mattered against a Kansas City team who has baffled them in the past. With Bruce Chen on the mound for the Royals, it looked like it would be another classic game where the Tigers were lost and dominated by a mediocre pitcher.
The Chicago White Sox putting on a hurting to the Cleveland Indians early and it was clear it was going to take a Tigers win to clinch the division. Through four innings, many Tiger fans probably thought it was going to take another night for them to clinch as Chen did what he does best, mow down Detroit hitters. It wasn’t until an unlikely hero, Jhonny Peralta, took Chen deep to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the fourth that got the scoring going.
The one run gave the Tigers, and Porcello, the slimmest of margins possible. Procello, after working a relatively easy first four innings, started to get into trouble as he hit the 75-pitch plateau in the bottom of the fifth. He was able to work out of the inning and his team would continue to pick him up in the sixth.
Omar Infante, who was absolutely stellar in the field, started the inning off with a strikeout. Miguel Cabrera followed and not only continued to add to his batting average, he also added to his home run total with a screaming line drive home run to right field to make it 2-0 Tigers. Prince Fielder followed up Cabrera with a double and Peralta then scored him on an error to centerfield. Andy Dirks would follow up Peralta with a single and Avisail Garcia would be intentionally walked to bring up Gerald Laird with the bases loaded. G-Money made the Royals pay with a bases clearing double to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
Kansas City came back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth and one in the eighth, but would get no closer, as Jose Valverde slammed the door on the Royals and the White Sox in the bottom of the ninth inning. The win guarantees two games at Comerica Park this weekend, even though the opponent is still up in the air. Detroit is the first team to clinch a division in the American League and now can relax for the last two games of the season on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tigers’ MVP: Oh man does it look like Cabrera wants to win that MVP award. The “Big Fella” went 4-5 from the plate with a homer and another RBI. His average is now up to .329 which is at least six points higher than the next closest batter. He helped key the team to victory, will be a big part of any postseason success and is on his way to a triple crown.
Tigers’ Goat: Austin Jackson, how far you have fallen. Once you were hitting about .320, now you are hitting .298 after an 0-5 night with two strikeouts. If the Tigers want to continue to succeed in the playoffs, Jackson has got to be better.