For eight innings tonight, this was looking like a ballgame to forget. The Tigers were stymied by Ubaldo Jimenez, ran into outs on the bases every time they seemed to threaten, and appeared on their way to a frustrating 1-0 defeat at Camden Yards tonight.
In one inning, though, everything changed, as Miguel Cabrera hit a dramatic three-run homer off O’s closer Tommy Hunter and the Tigers came from behind to beat Baltimore 4-1.
It was largely a pitchers duel, though Drew Smyly’s line looks a little bit better than it actually was. Smyly’s only blemish came on a solo home run by Adam Jones in the first inning, but Smyly was inefficient, struggled a bit with his command at times, and had to work out of a few big jams early on. Still, Smyly battled hard, and while he may have gotten a bit lucky to only give up the one run, he gave the Tigers the chance to come back. Baltimore will be kicking themselves after going 0-for-7 with RISP and leaving 7 men on base.
Meanwhile, the Tigers couldn’t touch Ubaldo Jimenez. Ubaldo was himself early on – inefficient, lots of full counts, lots of pitches. That said, the Tigers did very little against him. Two of the runners they got on against him were erased on strike ‘em out throw ‘em out double plays.
In the seventh, the Tigers’ lineup saw Jimenez for a third time, and batters hit .348 against Ubaldo that time through the order. For a while, it looked like that might hold true. Torii Hunter, who was booed all night by O’s fans, led off the inning with a two strike single. Miguel Cabrera took a four pitch walk, and the Tigers had a legitimate threat…. until Hunter made an awful decision trying to take third on a ball in the dirt that did not get away from O’s catcher Caleb Joseph. Joseph threw Hunter out at third, Victor Martinez hit into a double play, and it seemed the Tigers may have just blown their chance.
Justin Miller pitched two scoreless innings to keep things tight, and the Orioles brought in closer Tommy Hunter for the ninth to face Detroit’s 8-9-1 hitters. Alex Avila was first, and the O’s shifted on him, but he beat them with a grounder down the third base line for a single. Rajai Davis pinch-ran for him, and on the third pitch, he took off. Davis was initially ruled out at second, but Brad Ausmus challenged and, despite the objections of the crowd and NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the call was overturned as replays showed that Davis’s hand got to second just before he was tagged. This meant a base hit would tie it, but Don Kelly lined out softly to short and Ian Kinsler hit one hard, but not hard enough to get over the head of Adam Jones in center.
So it all came down to Torii Hunter vs. Tommy Hunter, with Torii being the designated villain for the evening. Torii worked Tommy for a nine pitch walk, taking some remarkably close pitches in the process and showing some uncharacteristic plate discipline. This, of course, set things up for Miguel Cabrera with two on and two out. Despite having 96 in his back pocket, Hunter threw Miggy a slider that stayed up, and Miggy managed to pull it into the bullpen in left for a three-run homer to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead. He pounded his chest, the dugout went nuts, Austin Jackson stared at him in shock. Scenes, and all that.
Not to be outdone, Victor Martinez hit one even further to go back-to-back. Victor’s blast barely stayed fair but made it all the way to Eutaw Street, making him the second Tiger to hit one there since the stadium’s opening in 1992 (Mickey Tettleton was the first, for you trivia buffs out there).
Joe Nathan handled the ninth, gave up a one out single, but got a 4-6-3 double play to end what might’ve been the most dramatic game of the young season so far.
That’s seven straight road wins for the Tigers. They can sweep the series and make it eight with a win tomorrow behind Justin Verlander.