BY RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Writer
Sunday definitely had its fair share of drama and fireworks around the league, with three teams walking off to victory.
The Tigers fought their way back into the ballgame all day in the series finale with the Cleveland Indians. They managed to tie things up at 5-5 to send the game to extra innings which allowed the late inning drama to set in.
Detroit sent Joaquin Benoit back out to pitch into the top of the tenth inning. This move didn’t quite work out like the Tigers hoped. Benoit allowed back to back home runs to Travis Hafner and Ezequiel Carrera.
Darin Downs was brought in to relieve for Benoit, but allowed Jack Hannahan to score on a double by Lou Marson giving the Indians what seemed to be a comfortable three run lead with All Star closer Chris Perez ready to take the mound.
The Tigers never got the memo as they kept battling back with the words of their slugger Miguel Cabrera on mind: “You’ve got to make 27 outs.”
Perez looked sharp with two outs, eyeing his 30 save of the season. Surprisingly, the wheels fell off for the usually dominant Perez as he walked Alex Avila and the pinch hitter Andy Dirks. The top of the order was due up for the Tigers which was terrible news for the Indians even with a three run lead with only one out between.
Austin Jackson came through with a clutch RBI double to score Avila shrinking the Indians’ lead to two run. Omar Infante, who arguably had the best game of his Tigers’ career, tied things up at 8-8 on an RBI single, scoring Dirks and Jackson.
With the blown save already in his back pocket, Perez had to face his toughest threat all series, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera made him pay with a two run walk off homer right into the Indian’s bullpen sending the small crowd that remained to see it into frenzy.
Cabrera’s 27 home run provided much more than a dramatic win. It gave the Tigers a three game sweep over the rival Indians. It extended their winning streak to four games, helped the team inch closer to the White Sox in the AL Central race, and propelled Cabrera straight into the MVP race.
He is now hitting .325 with 91 RBI’s to go along with those 27 home runs. Fans and analysts can definitely see that the offseason signing of Prince Fielder has paid Cabrera in every way, as he is having one of the best seasons in his nine year career. His amazing season goes unnoticed outside of Detroit because of the Tigers’ failures so far next to the high expectations expected of them at the start of the season.
This improbable comeback win could be the thing that takes the Tigers to the next level. Justin Verlander’s one hitter in May and the team’s 16-5 July run prove they have it.
The team on the field yesterday didn’t give up even when in crucial situations. Who would’ve expected, or even dreamt, that the Tigers would’ve scored five runs with TWO outs? It’s near impossible especially while facing an All Star closer.
The offense is starting to take notes from the way Cabrera and Fielder play the game, and it’s helped the club stay in contention into August. After the long search for a solid second baseman, the Tigers have Infante beginning to enliven the lineup.
The comeback win could take the Tigers to the next level, but it’s also a great way to prepare for the real test with the New York Yankees coming into town.