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Blown opportunity: Tigers chuck it away in 15th

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Seattle — On a night when relievers Alex Wilson, Kyle Ryan, Blaine Hardy, Mark Lowe, even starter Matt Boyd, combined to pitch eight scoreless innings, the Tigers still managed to blow a three-run lead in the eighth inning and a one-run lead in the 15th. 

Baseball doesn’t always make sense.

“I’ve said it before, there is no rearview mirror in baseball,” manager Brad Ausmus said after the Tigers lost 6-5 in 15 innings, their third straight loss in a game that didn't end until 3 a.m. EDT Wednesday. “These guys are veterans. They will put it behind them.”

Victor Martinez hit his 20th home run of the season to lead off the top of the 15th inning. He hit it right-handed off lefty Ariel Miranda — normally a starting pitcher — into the second deck in left field.

That ended a string of nine scoreless innings by the Tigers. 

The euphoria didn’t last long. Closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up an RBI single to Kyle Seager to tie the game in the bottom of the 15th, then a walk-off sacrifice fly to Mike Zunino.

“We battled and to not be able to come through, it was frustrating,” said Rodriguez, who blew just his third save of the season. “I made a lot of mistakes all over the plate, mostly in. Balls up. It's time for me now to make adjustments and try to find a way to turn the page and make sure I'm ready for tomorrow.

Seattle Mariners' Adam Lind, right, scores the winning run as Detroit Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia waits for the throw in the 15th inning. Seattle won 6-5.

“I've been there many times. One thing that I have is a short memory.”

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Justin Wilson, the Tigers left-handed setup man, needs one, too.

With two outs and a runner on first and the Tigers up 4-1 in the eighth, Wilson gave up an opposite-field double to left-handed hitting Adam Lind. Then his first pitch to left-handed hitting Seager was bashed into the seats in right-center, tying the game 4-4. 

“It was a cutter right down the middle,” Wilson said. “It was a bad pitch to a good hitter. I wanted it down and away and left it over the middle.”

Wilson has given up five runs in his last two outings.

“It’s not so much over the last two,” he said. “I know they haven’t been good. But it’s more just the hit totals. I’ve been too much over the middle of the plate. If I get it to the corners and down and away, I’ll get better results.”

It was the first home run he’s given up to a left-handed hitter in 71 plate appearances this season (and just the fourth of his career). 

“Any loss is tough, but this one (stinks),” Wilson said. “But there is no panic around this team. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow and down the stretch.”

So many sterling relief efforts were wasted. 

Left-hander Hardy, making his first appearance since being recalled from Toledo, impressively got the Tigers to the 12th inning, pitching three scoreless innings. He allowed two singles and struck out five.

Lowe pitched scoreless innings in the 12th and 13th.  

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Boyd, a native of nearby Mercer Island making his first pro appearance at Safeco, pitched a scoreless 14th. He ended the inning by picking off Norichika Aoki from first. 

Why was Boyd used and not reliever Shane Greene? Ausmus explained afterwards that Greene has been dealing with a strain in his posterior oblique.

“We’re trying to work him through it without having to put him on the disabled list,” Ausmus said. 

Greene said it was bothering for “a while,” even before he last pitched Saturday.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “It didn’t affect me (when he last pitched) and I don’t plan on it affecting me. We’re just playing it day by day.”

Alex Wilson had the most dramatic inning. He inherited a bases loaded-no out mess from starter Daniel Norris with the three-run lead in the sixth inning.

The first pitch he threw to pinch-hitter Adam Lind was sent 350 feet foul down the right field line. It fazed Wilson not at all.

He got Lind to fly out to shallow left.

Next hitter, Seager, also hit one about 350 feet foul down the right field line. Wilson came back and struck him out. 

Next hitter, pinch-hitter Seth Smith worked the count to 3-2, before swinging feebly at a cutter off the plate.

Wilson retired three straight left-handed hitters with the bases loaded. It was his 14th straight scoreless appearance, spanning 13 innings.

Impressive stuff. 

Going back 25 outings, Wilson has allowed three runs in 30⅔ innings with 19 strikeouts. 

But the Tigers couldn’t do anything against six Mariners relievers — Nick Vincent, Vidal Nuno, Edwin Diaz, Arquimedes Caminero, Drew Storen and Tom Wilhelmsen blanked the Tigers from the sixth through the 14th. 

The one chance they had came against Wilhelmsen in the 14th. They loaded the bases with one but Jose Iglesias struck out and Miguel Cabrera flew out to right.  

Cabrera (26th) and J.D. Martinez (14th) hit home runs off Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc. 

Norris, who made his first start since July 4 when he injured his oblique, gave up a run on seven hits. 


Twitter @cmccosky