Detroit — This game belonged in old Tigers Stadium. It kind of had a 1987 feel to it.
The Blue Jays and Tigers, a huge, enthusiastic crowd (34,674), half in blue and half in English D, a back-and-forth tussle — the only things missing were George Bell, Lloyd Moseby, Alan Trammell and Frank Tanana.
"Both teams got after it pretty good," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The crowd was unbelievable, for both sides. The stadium was electric. It was really a nice atmosphere today."
That's how it used to be when these teams battled in the old American League East. Alas, they only play two series a year now, but in terms of intensity, this was a throw-back.
The Tigers, after fighting back to tie the score twice, scored three times in the bottom of the eighth to beat the Jays 7-4 Saturday. It was their fourth straight win, their eighth in the last 10 and they secured their fourth straight series win at Comerica Park.
"That's what you're supposed to do," Gardenhire said. "You are supposed to protect your home. We want to win in front of our fans. We want them to appreciate this ballclub and I think they do."
They are especially loving the Rally Goose. Before the Tigers batted in the bottom of the eighth, with the score 4-4, the Tigers showed a Rally Goose montage on the big scoreboard
"I think it's awesome," said John Hicks, who delivered the winning hit. "The fans love it. We have the goose in our dugout and it's great. But this team had a lot of fight before we got the goose."
Miguel Cabrera started the rally with a single off Blue Jays reliever Seunghwan Oh. Victor Martinez followed with a ground-rule double to left center. Victor Reyes ran for Cabrera and Ronny Rodriguez for Martinez.
Niko Goodrum was walked intentionally to load the bases for John Hicks.
Hicks had struck out three straight times in the game. And he got two strikes on him again, quickly. But after spoiling a couple of high fastballs, he lunged at an off-speed pitch and dunked it into center field for a two-run single.
"He threw me all fastballs and I was able to just get a piece of it," Hicks said. "He finally went off-speed, just off the plate and away. I got just enough of it to punch it out there."
All three of his strikeouts were against starter J.A. Happ, against whom Hicks has had six at-bats and struck out five times. He was glad to face somebody else in the eighth.
"Each at-bat is its own thing," he said. "You just focus on each pitch and trust that you are prepared. I'm glad I was able to get through it."
JaCoby Jones followed with a sacrifice fly and the Tigers’ fans in the house started chanting, “Goose, goose, goose.”
The legend lives on.
"The goose is loose around here," Hicks said, laughing. "It's a big thing around here."
There was still work to be done, though.
With closer Shane Greene unavailable — he'd worked in the three previous games — the Tigers again had to juggle their bullpen. Louis Coleman moved up into the eighth-inning set-up role and worked a clean inning.
Joe Jimenez, the usual eighth-inning guy, worked the ninth for his first career save.
The Tigers twice tied the score against Happ, a left-hander who had won his last three starts, had an ERA under 4 and was among the leaders in strikeouts.
Jeimer Candelario whacked the second pitch he saw with an exit velocity of 109 mph. The ball traveled 406 feet deep into the seats in left field.
Nick Castellanos, who continues to abuse any and all left-handed pitching (leading the major leagues with a .465 average), got in his licks, too. He doubled home Dixon Machado in the third to tie the score at 2.
In the fifth, with the Tigers down 4-2, Castellanos singled home Machado to tie it again. Machado had driven in Jose Iglesias with his second double of the game prior to that.
"Machado had a great day," said Gardenhire, who had announced on Friday that Machado would be part of a three-player rotation at second base. "It was nice to see him get back out there after sitting the bench watching somebody else play your position.
"It was nice to see him get some hits, make some big defensive plays and get that smile back on his face."
There was nothing but smiles in the Tigers' clubhouse after this one.