Courtesy of a clutch two run double from Prince Fielder in the 14th inning, the Tigers were able to overcome some questionable substitutions, and extend their winning streak to 11 games.
Tigers’ manager, Jim Leyland, seems to have what can only be called an asinine obsession with Andy Dirks. No matter what, come hell or high water, Leyland has to figure out a way to get Dirks into the game. Why? Am I missing something? Is Dirks some kind of defensive wizard or offensive juggernaut? Tonight, with the Tigers down 3-2, Leyland brought in Dirks to pinch hit for, arguably the best defensive player on the team, Jose Iglesias to lead off the 8th inning. I understand that Iglesias hadn’t done much against Indians pitcher Danny Salazar but not too many other Tigers had either. In fact, at that point, Salazar had struck out the best player in the game, Miguel Cabrera, 3 times.
If bringing Dirks in wasn’t strange enough, Leyland wasn’t done tinkering. Unbelievably, after Cabrera hit a two-run shot to give the Tigers the lead 4-3 in the 8th, Leyland pulled Miggy out of the game for a defensive replacement. Should Miguel Cabrera ever be taken out of a close game unless he’s injured? As a result, Dirks went to left field, Don Kelly went to third, Santiago went to short and Hernan Perez, now hitting in Cabrera’s spot, went to second. If the Tribe tied the game, Miguel Cabrera would not bat again.
The Tribe came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 8th. Cabrera didn’t bat again.
Luckily the Tigers were able to pull this game out in extra innings, but WOW! You’re in extra innings, against your closest division rival, and Miguel Cabrera was out of the game.
On the bright side, Bruce Rondon and Jeremy Bonderman were very impressive. Rondon bailed out the usually lights out Drew Smyly, in the bottom of the 8th. He inherited runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. He blew Ryan Raburn away with a 103 MPH fastball, He got Yan Gomes to ground out to shortstop, who for some reason was playing back. The Tigers got the out at first but the tying run scored. Rondon then got Mike Avilies to pop out to short to end the inning. He would stay in and pitch a 1-2-3 9th. This was a big pick-me-up for the usually solid Smyly.
Jeremy Bonderman was equally impressive in his first appearance as a Tiger since 2010. Bonderman pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only 1 hit while striking out 3. Bonderman looked like he did when he was the ace of the Tigers staff back in 2006.
In the top of the 10th, I saw two of the most horrible swings I’ve ever seen in 35 years of watching baseball. Hernan Perez struck out on a pitch that was three feet outside. The pitch was so bad it got by Indians’ catcher Yan Gomes and Perez was able to make it to first without a throw. Next, Prince Fielder, struck out on a pitch that HIT HIM. That’s right, he swung at the pitch, he missed it, and the ball hit him in the left thigh.
This was a very strange game. I’m just glad the Tigers came out on top.
Update: I just heard Leyland in a post game interview. He said the took Miggy out for defensive reasons. He said Miggy wasn’t moving too well at 3rd so he moved Kelly to 3rd to solidify the defense. So, remind me again, why you took Iglesias out?
“God, I love baseball.” – Roy Hobbs | The Natural