CLEVELAND -- The electricity and buzz of a playoff game reverberated throughout a packed Progressive Field on Saturday night as the host Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers battled into extra innings.
A valiant ninth-inning rally by the Tribe handed Tigers closer Joe Nathan his fifth blown save of the season. But the Tigers returned the favor against the Tribe's new closer. Cody Allen entered the tied game in the 10th inning and promptly allowed a rare go-ahead run on three hits -- capped by a Miguel Cabrera double off the base of the center field wall that scored Ian Kinsler and resulted in a hard-fought 5-4 victory.
The Tigers led 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Nathan couldn't find his put-away pitch despite having three Indians batters down to their last strike with two outs.
After opening the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, Nathan lost his command. David Murphy lunged at a pitch he tapped up the middle, Yan Gomes followed with a single and Michael Bourn tied the score 4-4 when his single to left field scored Murphy.
The sold-out crowd of 40,721 -- many on hand to watch former shortstop Omar Vizquel inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame -- found themselves on their feet in the ninth inning as Nathan labored. After giving up the tying run, Nathan retired a first-pitch swinging Asdrubal Cabrera on a groundout.
But in the bottom of the inning with another one-run lead, Phil Coke did what Nathan couldn't, holding the Tribe scoreless on three strikeouts to clinch the Tigers' second win in the three-game series that wraps up today with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch.
Earlier in the evening, Victor Martinez got his usual home run out of the way early -- one of three solo homers dished up by starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Martinez, the former Tribe catcher and current Tigers designated hitter, led off the second inning by drilling a 415-yard home run down the right field line, his 19th of the season, to put the Tigers on the board first.
After Bauer needed just 11 pitches in a quick first inning, the Tigers made him throw 24 in the second, beginning with three consecutive hard-hits balls. After Martinez's longball, back-to-back base hits by J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos followed.
But Bauer managed to wiggle out of the two-on, no-out jam. He survived an Alex Avila shot to deep center field that speedy outfielder Bourn had to turn on the jets to grab at the wall. Then he froze Eugenio Suarez on a called strikeout and got Rajai Davis to send an easy fly ball to center field for the third out.
In the bottom of the inning, a smash off the bat of Nick Swisher ate up Kinsler, tagging the Tigers second baseman with his second error of the season. While Swisher dashed to second base, Lonnie Chisenhall hustled home from second to even the score, 1-1.
Carlos Santana tipped the scale back in favor of the Indians with a 2-1 advantage in the fourth inning via a leadoff homer -- his fourth career homer off Tigers starter Justin Verlander.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Tigers tried to manufacture a run -- again. Twice in Friday's game they attempted to steal, and twice Indians catcher Gomes threw them out. Saturday, Gomes erased the speedy Davis, who ranks second in the American League with 20 stolen bases.
Eventually the Tigers took advantage of a tiring Bauer, who gave up back-to-back solo homers in the seventh inning that snapped the deadlock and ended his 6 1/3 inning-outing with four runs on eight hits. On the other hand, Verlander entered the game with a 2-5 record and 4.98 ERA over his past seven starts.
But the veteran ace returned to form Saturday, limiting the Tribe to one earned run with eight strikeouts over seven strong innings. But once Verlander was gone, the Indians offense got back to work against Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque. Bourn was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Cabrera laced an RBI double to left center field, trimming the deficit to a run, 4-3.
(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services