With every Tiger game being crucial and scoreboard watching becoming a bad habit, it's starting to feel like a pennant race. The Tigers topped the Twins 4-2 in the Metrodome tonight and for a while it looked like they might gain ground on both the Indians and Yankees. The Yankees for sure (or so it seemed).
The Indians were down 4-1 to the Royals after 6 and 4-3 after 7 but they eventually came back to win 5-4 on a walk off homer by Casey Blake. The other score we were watching looked even more promising. The Yankees were losing to the Red Sox 7-2 after 7. However, the Yankees exploded for 6 runs in the 8th inning off Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon and the Yankees won 8-7. So, the Tigers remain 3 1/2 in back of the Yankees and 5 1/2 behind the Indians.
The Tigers were trailing 2-1 after 5 innings and Twins starter Matt Garza was looking strong. However, the Tigers rallied for 3 runs in the 6th inning to take a 4-2 lead. Curtis Granderson led off the inning with a single. It took them a while to score him but they did that and more. Gary Sheffield and Carlos Guillen walked to load the the bases with two outs. Pudge Rodriguez then worked an improbable 9 pitch walk (only his 8th unintentional free pass of the year) to force in the tying run. Unlikely September hero Timo Perez followed with a 2 run single to put the Tigers in front 4-2. Perez is now batting .429 in 62 at bats for the season.
The on again off again Nate Robertson pitched one of his good games tonight allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 7 innings. Tim Byrdak hit Joe Mauer on a 1-2 pitch to lead off the 8th and was then immediately replaced by Fernando Rodney. Rodney ended the inning with 2 strikeouts and a caught stealing. Todd Jones preserved the lead in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning. He didn't strike out the side like he did in the previous game but he kept the ball in the infield for 3 easy outs.
The pennant chase continues tomorrow night as the Tigers throw Yorman Bazardo up against Yohan Santana. That is not a promising match-up but the Twins are playing poorly and have not given Santana much support this year. Hopefully, Bazardo can get through 5 innings and then the bullpen can take over.