The Tigers were down 3-1 to the Oakland Athletics going into the ninth inning today. It looked like a lost series after splitting the first two games. With their usual closer Huston Street tired and resting, Justin Duchscherer came into save the game for the Athletics. The Tigers had other ideas though.
Magglio Ordonez led off the top of the ninth with an infield single. Pinch hitter Alexis Gomez lined a double to right to put runners on second and third. Chris Shelton lined a single to left to score a run. Carlos Guillen tied the game with a line drive single to right. Craig Monroe then attempted to bunt the runners over but hit into a fielder's choice. Brandon Inge walked on 15 pitches to load the bases, an epic at bat by undisciplined Tiger standards. He hit 7 foul balls after two strikes. Curtis Granderson followed with a bases loaded walk to put the Tigers in front. Kirk Saarloos came in to retire the last two batters but the damage had been done.
When was the last time the Tigers had a ninth inning rally to take the lead? Not only that, but they did it without a homerun. They had long at bats. They got walks. They got key hits. They just kept pecking away in un-Tiger-like fashion. It was a great inning but the game was not over yet. Fernando Rodney, who entered the game in the eighth, came out again for the ninth and it wasn't easy. He loaded the bases with one out before getting Jason Kendall on a force out and pinch hitter Adam Melhuse on a strikeout.
For the second time this week (the other being Sunday's 1-0 victory over the Indians), the Tigers won the type of game that they haven't been able to win in the past - a tight hard fought game against a strong opponent. Hopefully, this is a sign that the team is improving. They now go to Seattle for a three game series.
Jason Beck reported yesterday that Todd Jones will be back with the team on Friday. Jim Leyland said that Jones will make one appearance in a non-save situation before going back into the closer's role.