DETROIT -- For the second Saturday night in a row, Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez found a compelling way to beat the Tigers in a one-run game. And this time, he didn't even see the ball.
It was last weekend at Kauffman Stadium that Perez hit a two-run game-winning homer off Justin Verlander on Saturday night.
On Saturday night at Comerica Park, Perez made a tremendous catch of a one-hop relay from shortstop Alcides Escobar.
"I couldn't see the ball (around Fielder), but I know where the ball is going," Perez said. "I just put my glove out there and hoped for a short hop. It went into my glove, and I reached back and tagged him."
Perez tagged out Fielder just before Fielder would have touched home plate on a two-out double in the ninth by Omar Infante. Fielder thus became the final out in Kansas City's 1-0 win.
"I never run for Prince," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, addressing why it wasn't Hernan Perez instead of Fielder flying home from first when Infante lined Greg Holland's pitch into the left-field corner.
Indeed, the records on Baseball-Reference.com show that Leyland has never used a pinch-runner for Fielder in a close game in Fielder's two years with the Tigers.
Fielder runs better than most people might realize, and Leyland wouldn't want to be without his bat in extra innings. If Fielder isn't in the game, Miguel Cabrera really might not be either, because teams can then pitch around Cabrera to get to Fielder's substitute.
There's no comparison to this game-ending play and the one on which Fielder was thrown out trying to score from first on a double in last year's World Series. That play happened with none out; this one came with two out and thus, as Leyland said citing the Baseball 101, it was a "no-brainer" for third-base coach Tom Brookens to send Fielder. To hold Fielder there would have been hoping that a pinch hitter -- perhaps Brayan Pena -- would have tried to get a two-out hit off Holland, who's blown one save since May.
Like a lot of things in baseball, this stuff balances out.
The Tigers won a game in Seattle in April when Fielder made a relay home to nab the potential tying run and end the game.
And on this past Wednesday night in Chicago, Fielder sped home from second to score on Infante's single for a 1-0 win.
There were other chances. Miguel Cabrera flied to the track in deep left-center with a runner aboard in the sixth. "I thought it was gone," Cabrera said.
Nick Castellanos, in the biggest of his 12 big-league at-bats so far, pinch-hit in the seventh with runners on second and third and two out. He flied to center against left-hander Will Smith, who had just relieved right-handed starter Ervin Santana. "We liked Castellanos better than Pena batting right-handed," Leyland said.
Cabrera grounded out with Torii Hunter on second to end the eighth.
Cleveland posted its 11th straight win over the White Sox and moved within five games of the first-place Tigers in the AL Central. If the Indians had gone just 7-12 against the Tigers instead of 4-15, they'd be a game up on the Tigers now.
But if Perez hadn't come up with Escobar's throw after he took the relay from left fielder Alex Gordon . . . "All credit to Salvy," Escobar said of his catcher. "Two good throws, and one great play."
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