Detroit — There were several positives the Detroit Tigers could take from Saturday's dramatic, 4-2, 12-inning victory over the Cleveland Indians, but one really stood out.
Jeimer Candelario’s two-run home run in the 12th inning, his 10th homer this season, won the game.
Warwick Saupold (4-1) earned the win with two innings of shutout relief, capping a fine effort from the bullpen, after starter Mike Fiers was excellent over seventh innings.
But none of that was the historic aspect of this game.
That would be reliever Alex Wilson coming into the game in the seventh inning on the bullpen cart.
For the first time this season, a Tigers’ relief pitcher took the ride from the bullpen to the mound — actually dropped off near third base — with plenty of smiles all the way around.
Wilson hadn’t heard grief from his bullpen mates, or anyone, after the game ended.
“I haven’t yet,” said Wilson, who just returned to the lineup after missing several weeks with a left plantar fascia strain. “But I have no doubt it’s coming. For all the grief I hand out in this clubhouse, I have no doubt stuff is coming.”
Wilson needs to stay off his foot as much as possible, so that was the reason for the ride.
“I’ve said I’d never take it and then I blow my foot out,” Wilson said. “I just have to stay off the foot a little bit. But it was an awkward experience to say the least.
“I got to the mound and Gardy (manager Ron Gardenhire), Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) and Mache (James McCann) were giggling at me. It was hard enough to try to lock into the situation.”
Gardenhire, a Texas Longhorn alum, wasn't surprised Wilson, a former Texas A&M Aggie, would be the first to take the cart.
“The one guy I knew would do that would be Alex Wilson, I tip my hat to him,” Gardenhire said. “He had the courage to do it. Good for him.”
Wilson’s cart ride notwithstanding, it was another hard-fought, dogged win for the Tigers (31-35), who have had more than a few of them.
“We persevered and hung in there,” Gardenhire said. “Our bullpen did a great job, Mike Fiers was unbelievable, a heck of a performance, and a nice win for us, on a long night.”
Candelario's first hit of the game, off Indians closer Cody Allen, ended a 3 hour, 46 minute marathon that was delayed 1 hour, 51 minutes at the start because of rain.
The Tigers had a golden opportunity to end the game in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Leonys Martin and Nicholas Castellanos singled, and Miguel Cabrera was walked to load the bases with one out. But Candelario lined out, and Victor Reyes grounded into a force out, ending the threat.
In the 11th, Jose Iglesias tripled to right-center with two out. But Dixon Machado's looping fly ball to center field was snagged by former Tiger Rajai Davis, extending the game.
Candelario didn’t miss in the 12th, though.
“I was better and better each at bat and I just wanted to be in good position to be ahead in the count and try to drive the ball,” Candelario said. “Just be aggressive in the zone and try to hit the ball on the barrel.”
What seemed like multiple hours ago — and maybe it was — the Tigers received another admirable start from Fiers.
Battling through seven innings, Fiers only allowed one run on five hits, while walking one and striking out eight, frustrating the Indians.
“Everything is coming out of my hand great,” Fiers said. “I’m healthy, that’s No. 1, and I’m throwing the pitches I can throw, pitching the way I can pitch.
“It was kind of scuffle there in April, kind of a rough go, I didn’t feel the ball coming out of my hand, but this part of the season … it’s kind of where I want to be.”