Before Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning tonight, it had been a frustrating series for the Tigers and their fans. Last night, they had 16 base runners but managed only four runs in a 6-4 loss. In the first first eight innings tonight, the Bengals had 14 batters reach base versus Edwin Jackson and two Chicago relievers but plated only two runs. It seemed like they should be dominating this game, but instead it was tied at two after eight.
Austin Jackson then led off the ninth with a triple off of reliever Jesse Crain. Nobody out and a man on third. Surely they should score here but we remembered the first 17 innings of the series and feared the worst. Donnie Kelly followed with a weak pop out to shortstop. Brennan Boesch then struck out and two were down with Jackson still on third.
Cabrera was up next. He's been intentionally walked a lot in this situation in the last couple of years. Not so much recently though, not with the way Victor Martinez has been hitting behind him. So, the big guy got his chance. Crain got two quick strikes on Miguel and it looked like another scoring chance would go by the boards. However, Cabrera belted a 1-2 pitch to left field for his 12th home run of the year and the Tigers were up 4-2.
The Cabrera blast was one of the biggest moments of the Tigers' season so far but there was still work to be done. Closer Jose Valverde frightened us by walking lead-off batter Alex Rios in the bottom of the ninth. He then retired the final three though for his 15th save of the season.
Ace Justin Verlander, who came up big in his last appearance versus the Red Sox, had another big assignment tonight against the Pale Hose. He pitched eight innings allowing two runs, with the only tallies coming on a two-run homer by Gordon Beckham in the fifth. He did have to work out of a couple of jams. He allowed the first two batters to reach in the fourth but got out of it with a strikeout and a double play ball. He also worked out of a first and third one-out situation in the eighth.
The only other Tiger runs came in the first inning when Brennan Boesch hit a towering shot to right for a two-run homer. Boesch later added a single and a walk. The only other Tiger with multiple hits was Jackson who had two singles to go with his triple.
The win left the Tigers just 3 1/2 games behind the now slumping Indians. The final game of this series comes tomorrow afternoon with Brad Penny facing Jake Peavy.