September 1, 2013
This win might have kept the Indians in the Wild Card race. If they had lost this one, they would have fallen 1.5 behind the Orioles and stayed a game behind the Yankees, not to mention keeping in contact with the Rays and the A's.
The reason the Indians won this game was because Danny Salazar pitched a gem. He threw 6 shutout innings, allowed six hits, struck out 5, and didn't allow a walk. What's even more impressive is that the Tigers had seen him before, and they still were shut out. Salazar threw only 77 pitches, and if this were next year, he would have gone at least seven innings. A rotation with an unleashed Salazar is something to look forward to, but even this leashed version is pretty cool right now.
Justin Verlander really struggled to get through the first inning, but the Indians didn't make him pay for his early wildness. He threw 35 pitches in that first frame, but still managed to give the Tigers seven shutout innings. Even when Verlander is "bad," he's still pretty good.
So the game remained tied up until the ninth inning. The Tigers sent Joaquin Benoit, their closer, out for the ninth, standard practice for the home team in a tie. But today Benoit couldn't throw strikes, and this time the Indians made a pitcher pay for it. The inning started when Carlos Santana walked. Terry Francona had several more players to work with, and used them here in the ninth. He pinch-ran Jose Ramirez for Santana, which marked Ramirez's major-league debut. The 20-year-old infielder is probably not going to get many at-bats, but he should pinch-run regularly in the late innings. And although Ramirez didn't steal a base, I do think he distracted Benoit, and Michael Brantley worked a walk after seeing 8 pitches. An Asdrubal Cabrera bunt pushed the runners to second and third, and the Tigers then walked Jason Kubel, another player making his Indians debut. The thinking was that loading the bases could set up a inning-ending double play, but Mike Aviles wasn't having any of that. He jumped on a hanging slider and pulled it out of the park for his first career grand slam. And the Indians went from playing for one run to getting four runs out of the inning.
Chris Perez finished off the Tigers despite some tense moments, and the Indians salvaged the final game of the series, ending an overall five-game losing streak and a seven-game losing streak against the Tigers. This win will make no difference whatsoever in the AL Central race (the Tigers have the division) but it does keep them (barely) in the AL Wild Card race.
Roll Call (21 Commenters)
|13||Denver Tribe Fan||8|