In one of the most exciting games of the year, the Tigers topped the Red Sox 3-2 in 13 innings tonight. With two outs, Gary Sheffield on second base and Jonathan Papelbon pitching, Pudge Rodriguez drove one into the right center field gap just beyond the reach of Coco Crisp to end the game. Sheffield had reached base after getting hit by a Papelbon pitch. Papelbon then threw over to first base a half dozen times to keep Sheffield close. Sheffield took second base anyway for his 12th steal of the year. Magglio Ordonez then flied out to right and Carlos Guillen struck out leaving it up to Pudge.
The Tigers came into the game 2-6 in extra inning games mostly due to a leaky bullpen. This time the bullpen came through. Todd Jones who tends not to do well in non-save situations and in games where he has to pitch more than one inning handled both situations just fine tonight. He entered the game with the score tied 2-2 after 8 and pitched 2 scoreless innings although he did put two runners on base in the 10th. He was followed by Macay McBride, Zach Miner, Biobby Seat and Jason Grilli who combined for 3 scoreless innings. The biggest scare came in the 12th when Miner loaded the bases and Seay came into get the final out getting pinch hitter Kevin Youkilis on a fly to right.
Meanwhile the Tigers had opportunities to score themselves but left the bases loaded in both the 10th and 11th innings. The one guy that kept getting big hits was Rodriguez. He had 3 extra inning hits and it was the 3rd one that won it.
This was a great game before it went into extra innings. Jeremy Bonderman pitched 8 strong innings while rookie Kason Gabbard held the Tigers to 3 hits in 6 1/3 innings. Bonderman had his usual first inning problems allowing a triple to Dustin Pedroia and a home run to David Ortiz on a big fat changeup. He then allowed two more runners to reach base before striking out the final two batters to get out of it. He worked out of a couple more jams later in the game thanks mostly to his slider which was especially wicked tonight.
Most impressive was Jeremy's performance in the 8th. With runners on first and second and one out and Bonderman over 100 pitches, Jim Leyland surprisingly kept him in the game. He then got Manny Ramirez on grounder to third and struck out JD Drew to get out of it. It seemed as if Leyland was challenging him and he handled it beautifully. On the game, he tied a season high with 9 strike outs, most of them on sliders in the dirt.
The Tigers had only 7 hits in 13 innings tonight as the top three batters went a combined 0 for 17. The only extra base hits and the only RBI in the first 12 inning belonged to Craig Monroe who had a 2 run double in the 5th.
Placido Polanco had to be removed from the game, and replaced by Omar Infante in the 8th inning, with a strained right lat muscle. It is not supposed to be serious but it unknown whether he'll be available Sunday. Sunday's game will be at 1:05 and will feature Nate Robertson versus Daisuke Matzusaka.