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Tigers Blow Through Ten Pitchers But Get 8-7 Win Over Rays

By Ashley Scoby

If nothing else, Tuesday night's five-hour, 13-inning slugfest between the Tigers and the Rays was an endurance test of baseball fandom. By the time James McCann slid into home after midnight off a Rajai Davis sacrifice fly to give Detroit an 8-7 win, hardly any fans remained at Comerica Park.

Those who stayed nearly saw the Tigers break a franchise record for the most pitchers used in a single game (11). Detroit trotted out 10 guys to the mound, and Tampa Bay wasn't terribly far behind, using six of their own.

"It's September baseball at its best," McCann said.

But it might be September baseball at its worst, too: blown-up relievers, balks and dropped flyballs made for ugly baseball in Detroit.

The teams got through five innings at a breakneck pace and yielded a 1-1 tie. But come the sixth inning, Detroit's bullpen started to implode. Al Alburquerque was brought in to replace Matt Boyd (who started, and yielded three hits and three runs in five innings), and his balk moved two runners forward that would eventually score. Tampa left the top of the sixth up 5-1 having gone through three pitchers in one inning.

The Tigers came back in the same inning, partially helped along by McCann getting nailed by a fastball that ricocheted off his helmet and Ian Kinsler scoring on the play. The tying runs came when Andrew Romine's single to left field batted in Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez.

By the top of the ninth, when Detroit held a 7-6 lead off a Martinez homer, fans were getting restless with the growing assumption that the relievers were going to blow it. Bruce Rondon was on the mound for the ninth, and fans took to sarcastically cheering when he threw a strike. He walked both Kevin Kiermaier and Daniel Nava before Davis dropped a flyball in left field, allowing Kiermaier to score and tie the game.

For four more innings of what oftentimes felt like pitching tryouts. Ian Krol, who had just been recalled to the Tigers that day, threw one-third of an inning, Drew VerHagen got in two-and-one-third and Kyle Ryan finished out the last one-and-a-third. Ryan also was the pitcher that tied the franchise record for most pitchers used in a game.

"The best closers in the game are going to be the most mentally tough," McCann said. "One swing of the bat they can tie the game. And one runner on, one swing of the bat, they can go up by one. So it's not an easy position. It's not a position that everyone can handle."

After five hours of several pitchers on both sides not being able to close the evening, Tampa's Andrew Bellatti broke first. Jefry Marte (also a Tuesday call-up by the Tigers) bunted for McCann, and reached first after Bellatti fumbled the ball on the throw to his first baseman. Two batters later, Davis – he who had the costly drop in left field earlier – stepped up and got the sacrifice fly that sent McCann home.

"It's tough. It can be very, very, very challenging especially when you make a mistake," Davis said of how mentally taxing a game like Tuesday's could be. "You drop a ball, and it can definitely wear on you. But that's why we're major leaguers and you've got to put those things behind you and focus on what you're about to do and keep going, keep moving."



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