Tigers scratch out historic, dramatic triumph
St. Louis — History was made, a 1 hour and 20 minute rain delay was endured, opportunities were squandered, but in the end, the Tigers walked away with a dramatic, 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in 10 innings on Saturday.
"It was a great game," said Miguel Cabrera, who provided the history by walloping his 400th home run in the first inning. "I am glad we were able to finish it off."
Heroes were plentiful for the Tigers on this day.
Jose Iglesias, who had left five runners on base in two of his previous at-bats, got redemption in the 10th inning with a clutch, two-out single off reliever Matt Belisle that scored J.D. Martinez with the winning run.
Then closer Joakim Soria had to cut through the heart of the Cardinals order in the bottom of the 10th to earn his 12th save. There was drama.
Matt Holiday led off with a single but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double on a strong throw by Rajai Davis.
"I wasn't surprised he ran at all," Davis said. "That's why I was ready to throw. You can't blame him for being aggressive. It's a risk you take. Chances are, pressure situation, the throw is going to be a little off."
Not this time.
Pinch-hitter Matt Adams followed with a slicing liner to left that Cespedes dove for but couldn't get to. It was originally ruled a catch, but replays showed the ball short-hopped into Cespedes' glove.
Cespedes injured the thumb on his left hand (glove hand) on the play, but stayed in the game. He said he was fine afterward, but had he not been able to continue, catcher Bryan Holaday was the last available position player on the bench.
"Cespedes was going to stay," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Soria struck out Mark Reynolds on a debated called strike on a 3-2 pitch for the second out, and with the crowd chanting "Yadie, Yadie," he fanned Yadier Molina to end the game.
"This was a good team win," Ausmus said. "A lot of people contributed."`
About those wasted opportunities; the Cardinals are kicking themselves over them.
Somehow, against all odds, they managed not to score in a 3-3 game in the seventh after back-to-back doubles.
With starter David Price well over 100 pitches, pinch-hitter Jayson Heyward poked an opposite-field double. Randal Grichuk followed with a long blast to the wall in left center. Inexplicably, Heyward had gone back to second, presumably to tag up.
He told reporters that the ball was hit so high, he figured it was either going to be a home run or be caught, so he tagged up.
"Apparently I had the worst seat in the house," he said.
He only advanced to third, which is where he stayed. Price stuck out Matt Carpenter on his 117th pitch — his most impressive at-bat of the game.
"I wasn't going to get beat with anything but my fastball," Price said. "I got beat three times on change-ups, once by Carpenter. That wasn't going to be the case that inning. If he beat me, it was going to be off my fastball."
Right-hander Angel Nesbitt came on and got Matt Holliday to pop out to first.
It was a Houdini-like escape for the Tigers.
And they pulled off another in the eighth. With Joba Chamberlain pitching and struggling to throw strikes, Jhonny Peralta led off with a walk and Mark Reynolds got ahead in the count 3-1.
Chamberlain got him to foul out to Cabrera, who made a nice running catch near the stands, and almost in one motion whirled and threw a strike to third base where pinch-runner Pete Kozma was dead out trying to advance.
It was an odd outing for Price. He threw two pitches before a hard, steady rain forced the delay. Often delays of more than an hour will end a starting pitcher's night.
"I was able to stay loose," he said. "If you throw a couple of innings, or 30 to 40 pitches, then it becomes more of a deal. I only threw two pitches. Plus, I have been in the bullpen in my career, in 2008. You would play catch at 4:30 p.m. and have a chance to be in the game at 9 or 10 p.m. It wasn't a problem."
After some early struggles, he settled in nicely. Until the seventh inning, he had given up four hits — three of them, though, were solo homers, all of them off his change-up. Carpenter got him in the first and Peter Bourjos in the second. With one out in the sixth and the Tigers up 3-2, Peralta whacked a change-up 426 feet to left to tie the game.
It was the fourth time in his career and the first with the Tigers that Price allowed three homers in one game.
"We stayed in the game and we battled," Price said. "It was a great game and we were able to get the win. It was a good day."