Sometimes you can fall back into your old bad habits and still manage to win. As Jim Leyland pointed out in his postgame interview, the Tigers were terrible with runners in scoring position today. They were 2-for-15 and stranded ten. It seemed like they were leaving the bases loaded throughout most of the middle innings. Grounding into three double plays didn’t help matters and those double plays are getting really tiresome to watch. Luckily, despite the Tigers’ best efforts to squander every opportunity to score, Miguel Cabrera is one of the best players in all of baseball, and he has the power to erase the day’s frustrations with one swing. With a runner on in the ninth and Matt Capps on the mound, he did just that, blasting one over the center field wall to give the Tigers the lead.
As for Rick Porcello, he was better than he has been, although he did leave the ball up a little too much and he gave up a few hard-hit balls, several of which were hit off him. Between slipping off the mound and rolling his ankle, taking a line drive off his leg, and diving into the dirt to cover first base, he seemed determined to hurt himself. You don’t often see a pitcher with his jersey all dirty. Still, three runs in six innings is not bad, and it’s a step in the right direction for him.
The bullpen was key, as Duane Below and Brayan Villarreal combined for two scoreless innings to set up the ninth inning comeback. Villarreal got an assist from Quintin Berry’s diving catch in center field to save a run (And yes, he made that into a tougher play than it needed to be and I know that’s a routine play for Austin Jackson, but it was still a nice catch). Berry was also a crucial factor in the scoring. I don’t know if his hot hitting will last once pitchers start to get a more comprehensive scouting report on him, but there’s no doubt he’s been a spark in these last few games. And it IS nice to have a speedy base stealer with the team for now. I’m not going to get into the “to bunt or not to bunt” debate (mostly because I don’t think it’s THAT big an issue, and either way, complaining about it isn’t going to make it go away), but maybe the basestealing ability will accomplish the same thing without giving up outs.
At any rate, it’s nice to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for once, instead of the other way around. Now onto Boston!