By: Dan Dickerson
Ninth inning comebacks are rare in baseball. The Detroit Tigers had rallied to win twice all season when they trailed after eight innings. And going into last night’s game with the Tigers, the Cleveland Indians were 51-1 when they took a lead into the ninth, and a perfect 29-0 at home. But Alex Avila changed all that with one swing of the bat. Thanks to Avila’s three run home run, the Tigers rallied for four runs in the ninth, and beat the Indians 4-2 in the first game of a four game series.
Pitching dominated this game: Corey Kluber shut the Tigers out on six hits thru seven and one-third innings, and Anibal Sanchez used dominating stuff to limit the Indians to two runs through seven and two-thirds innings of work. The Tigers had few threats all night against Kluber, and trailed 2-0 going to the top of the ninth. Closer Chris Perez – who had allowed just two runs in his previous 19 innings of work – came on for the Indians, and the Tigers bats immediately came to life: Fielder started the inning with a double into the left field corner. Victor Martinez singled him home to make it a 2-1 game. Andy Dirks walked, and then on a 1-0 pitch, Avila launched a high fly ball that carried the 19 foot wall in deep left-center, and the Tigers had a 4-2 lead. Joaquin Benoit worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for his 13th save.
The Tigers have now won nine straight, 13 of 14, and lead the Central by four games over the Indians.
Listen below to Victor Martinez’ RBI single in the 9th