Detroit — The Tigers thought it was over in the bottom of the ninth. They thought they had their second straight walk-off win against the American League Central-leading Kansas City Royals.
They did not. Not right then, anyway.
“Ironically, a couple of days ago we were watching something and I told (pitching coach) Jeff Jones that eventually somebody is going to walk it off and they are going to dump Gatorade all over the person and then tell him to go back into the field,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
“Unfortunately, that happened to us.”
This one had a happy ending for the Tigers, though. Ian Kinsler, whose first winning run was taken off the board following a video review in the bottom of the ninth, led off the 11th with a line drive home run to left, giving the Tigers their first four-game winning streak since April — 6-5.
“That one was guaranteed,” Kinsler said. “It went over the fence. So the game was over right there. There was no reviewing that one. It's always nice to win a game like that.”
Kinsler, who continues to play inspired baseball, singled to start the ninth and after Miguel Cabrera was hit in the hand, he daringly stole third base. Then, with one out, he challenged the arm of center fielder Jarrod Dyson on a line drive to short center by Andrew Romine.
The throw beat Kinsler but was high. Home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called Kinsler safe and the Tigers began to celebrate.
But, on the urging of Royals manager Ned Yost, Cederstrom, the crew chief, called for a video review. After 2 minutes and 10 seconds, the call was overturned. The replay showed catcher Salvador Perez barely touching Kinsler’s toe.
“Gary absolutely has to (review the play),” Ausmus said. “He can’t let the game end on that, if it’s something that needs to be looked at. I was angry at the time, because from what I saw on the big screen, it didn’t look like he was tagged.
“It wasn’t until after, when we started the next inning, I was able to go downstairs (and look at the video). I mean, Perez’s glove, maybe the width of a hair, you can see it hit Kinsler’s cleat.”
Kinsler said it took the team several extra minutes to regroup before going back on the field for the 10th.
“It’s definitely a huge downer,” Ausmus said. “You’re going from one extreme to the other. It’s probably most difficult for Romine, because he’s got Gatorade all over his shoes.”
Helping settle things down, though, was veteran lefty Tom Gorzelanny. He hadn’t pitched in six days, but he shut the Royals down in the 10th and 11th innings.
“Gorzo did a great job,” Kinsler said. “There wasn't even a threat. So that helps — not having to deal with runners on base, and different situations. It was pretty easy work for him, so he did a great job and he deserves that win.”
It was the Tigers’ third straight extra-innings win.
“You don’t want to play extra innings,” Kinsler said. “You want to win in nine. It’d be nice to win in nine, but it’s always fun to be on this side of the game.”
It was a bullpen battle from the seventh inning on and usually that favors the Royals. But they were without their top three arms. Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland were unavailable.
Instead, the Tigers saw Chris Young in the seventh inning, Franklin Morales the eighth, Luke Hochevar the ninth and Miguel Almonte in the 10th and 11th.
The teams traded punches from the seventh inning on.
The Royals scored twice primarily off Al Alburquerque in the seventh to take a 4-3 lead. In the span of three batters in the seventh, he allowed the tying run to score on an 0-2 wild pitch, balked, walked two (one intentionally) and gave up an RBI single.
But Victor Martinez bailed him out. Having already doubled and hit a 397-foot sacrifice fly center field, he hit a dramatic two-out, two-run home run off Young — his first since Aug. 8 — in the bottom of the seventh to put the Tigers back up 5-4.
“This game can make you crazy,” Martinez said. “The hardest ball I hit the whole night was an out. That’s how funny this game is. But something for sure — we are still going out and playing hard, no matter what.”
Bruce Rondon, who had been closing games for the Tigers, came on in the eighth inning and promptly gave up a tying blast to Eric Hosmer — 5-5.
Lost in all the late-inning drama was an encouraging outing by Tigers rookie Matt Boyd. He pitched six innings and allowed three hits — two of them solo home runs (Kendrys Morales and Mike Moustakas).
“It was strange. It was exciting. It was fun to be a part of,” Boyd said. “Guys were really pulling to get this series win and that in itself was awesome. It was a great feeling today.”
The last time Boyd faced the Royals, Sept. 3, he got bashed around a fair bit — six runs and seven hits in just 11 batters faced.
“Last outing I was all over the place,” he said. “I just couldn't throw anything I wanted to. I'd get 2-0 and I walk guys and was in unfavorable counts. Today, I was just getting ahead of fastballs and just really locating and executing pitches.
“I’m just glad it worked out.”