The Tigers lost to the Royals 9-7 in 11 innings tonight and it was not pretty. They came into the game with a 14-1 lead in the season series against the Royals. They jumped out to a 5-0 lead after 3 innings thanks, in part, to a couple of solo homers by Curtis Granderson. It looked like another easy victory against the team with the worst record in baseball but it was not to be. They were still in front 5-0 in the 5th but, from that point on, they slowly let the game slip away. Wil Ledezma allowed 2 runs in the 5th. Jason Grilli gave up 1 in the 7th. Joel Zumaya surrendered another in the 8th. Finally, Todd Jones allowed them to tie it 5-5 in the 9th.
The Tigers had a chance to win it in the bottom of the 9th when they loaded the bases with one out. However, Pudge Rodriguez swung at the first pitch and hit a weak fly ball to shallow center. Surprisingly, Gene Lamont sent Brent Clevlen home but Joey Gastright threw him out by a mile. I thought it was a strange decision by Lamont but he apparently hoped to catch the Royals by surprise.
The Royals broke the game open in the 11th when they got 4 runs on 3 homers off Jamie Walker. It wasn't quite over yet though. Carlos Guillen got a bases loaded single in the bottom of the 11th to make it 9-7. Then Rodriguez hit into an inning ending doubleplay. And the ugly loss was complete. I'm going completely on memory but Pudge sure seems to hit into doubleplays in crucial situations quite often. Not to mention weak first pitch pop-ups.
The good news tonight was that the White Sox eked out a victory over the Twins. That one started to get scary too as the White Sox nearly blew a 4-1 lead in the 9th. It got down to 4-3 with the bases loaded but Bobby Jenks struck out Phil Nevin to end it. So, the magic number for the division title is down to 2 games.
With his 2 home runs tonight, Granderson continues to quiet his critics in the final month. After enduring an awful slump during July and August, Granderson has had a powerful September. He has 6 home runs, 14 extra base hits and has slugged .552 for the month. He is slugging .440 for the season. It's been an up and down first full season for Curtis but he seems to making an important adjustment down the stretch.
Ledezma allowed 2 runs in 5 innings in his final game of the regular season. After a lost season in 2005, the 25 year old lefty made some nice progress this year. After posting a 2.52 ERA and 66/23 k/BB ratio in 71 1/3 innings for Toledo, he had a 3.58 ERA in 60 1/3 innings for the Tigers, much of that in the fifth starter role. He won't start in the playoffs but should make the post-season roster as a reliever. His future is still up in the air but it's looking a lot better now than it was a year ago.