The Tigers needed a late rally to clinch a series win but they came up with two in the seventh off old friend Charlie Furbush to scratch out a 5-4 victory.
Things looked good for the Tigers early. Despite falling behind in the first inning, the Tigers roared back quickly. Torii Hunter homered, Miguel Cabrera walked, Prince Fielder took his spot via a fielders choice, and Victor Martinez scored him from first on a double. The Tigers got a third run in the third after Cabrera and Fielder went single-double and the Mariners once again elected to intentionally walk Martinez to load the bases with two out. This time it failed as Mariners starter James Paxton promptly walked Omar Infante on four pitches to force in a third run.
Doug Fister was excellent for the most part – with the exception of the fifth inning, where a big hiccup cost him the lead. Mike Zunino and Carlos Triunfel opened the inning with singles and Fister hung a 2-0 changeup to Dustin Ackley. Ackley didn’t miss it, hitting a three-run homer to give Seattle a 4-3 lead. It was a blemish on Fister’s day, though he struck out ten Mariners in 7.2 innings.
The score held until the seventh inning. Paxton was gone after five, and after Tom Wilhelmsen escaped the sixth unblemished, he returned to the mound for the seventh and ran into trouble. Torii Hunter doubled to start the inning and advanced to third when Cabrera hit a deep fly ball to right. The Mariners then turned to tough lefty Charlie Furbush to get Prince Fielder, but Fielder won the battle by singling into center and tying the game. Martinez then hurt the Mariners again, doubling into the left field corner. Tom Brookens elected to send Fielder home and he was ruled safe at the plate, though replays showed that Fielder was tagged in the face before his leg slid across the plate. It didn’t matter, though, as the Tigers led 5-4.
Fister got two out in the seventh before issuing a walk. Drew Smyly came on to strike out Nick Franklin and Joaquin Benoit pitched a routine ninth with a strikeout.
The Tigers had a scare in the sixth when Wilhelmsen hit Jose Iglesias on the hand with a 95 MPH fastball and there were fears that Iglesias’s hand was broken. X-rays, however, came back negative and Iglesias is considered day-to-day with a deep contusion.
The victory reduces the Tigers’ magic number to four. The Indians face Houston tonight. More importantly, the Oakland Athletics face Minnesota tonight. An A’s loss would lift the Tigers into a tie for the second best record in the AL and home field advantage in the ALDS.