By: Dan Dickerson
Going into Tuesday night’s game with Oakland, the Detroit Tigers found themselves in a spot they had never been in under Jim Leyland – facing elimination in Game 4 of a first round series. And for four innings on Tuesday night, the chances of playing a Game 5 weren’t looking very good. Oakland A’s starter Dan Straily had no-hit the Tigers through four innings, and the Tigers trailed, 3-0, going to the bottom of the fifth. And then the Tigers’ bats came alive, leading to one of the greatest finishes ever in Tigers post-season history.
Prince Fielder led off the 5th with a bloop single down the left field line. Victor Martinez followed with a single. Jhonny Peralta then hit a 2-2 pitch just over the glove of a leaping Yoenis Cespedes for a home run to tie the game, 3-3.
Then things got really interesting.
Max Scherzer came out of the bullpen to start the 7th, and gave up a run on a single, sacrifice and another single. With nine outs left, the Tigers now trailed, 4-3. But Victor Martinez led off the bottom of the 7th with what appeared to be a home run off of reliever Sean Doolittle. The A’s claimed fan interference – which there was – but the umpires reviewed it, and determined Reddick had little chance to make the catch, and Martinez had his home run, tying the game, 4-4.
In the very next half-inning, the A’s loaded the bases with none out against Scherzer. But then – in an electrifying sequence – Scherzer struck out Reddick on a 3-2 changeup in the dirt, struck out Vogt on a fastball, and then got Alberto Callaspo on a line drive to Austin Jackson in center field to end the inning, and preserve the Tigers 5-4 lead.
The Tigers added three runs in the bottom of the 8th – Omar Infante’s two-out, two-run double brought home the final two runs – to take an 8-4 lead. Those final two runs were big, because the A’s scored two in the 9th off Joaquin Benoit – and had the potential tying run at the plate – before Benoit closed it out by striking out Seth Smith.
The 8-6 win means the Tigers will playing a deciding Game 5 on the road for a third straight year, and in Oakland for a second straight year. Sonny Gray – who was incredible in Game 2, dominating the Tigers in eight shutout innings – will start for the A’s. The Tigers will go with Justin Verlander, who threw seven shutout innings in Game 2, and who beat the A’s with a complete game shutout in Game 5 of the ALDS last year. The winner will face the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series starting Saturday in Boston.
Listen below to Jhonny Peralta’s 3-run HR