June 27, 2008

Sheffield lines walkoff hit, Tigers outlast Cards, 8-7

A June 26 4thebirds post from another network, by permission:

After a lengthy rain delay, the Tigers and Cardinals took the field at Comerica Park, playing out a 5-5 tie from the fifth inning.

Rick Ankiel had just homered to tie the game. Duncan had been on first base with two outs when the game had been delayed by rain for two hours and fifteen minutes.

Upon the game's restart, Zach Miner took over for starter Armando Galarraga, who got the Tigers out of the inning.

After the long delay, Cardinals' staring pitcher Kyle Lohse couldn't continue. Chris Perez took over on the hill, keeping the Tigers from a quick strike.

In the top of the sixth, Miner hit Adam Kennedy with a pitch, but any potential scoring opportunity was snuffed when Nick Stavinoha grounded in a double play.

Perez remained on the mound, holding the Tigers again, only Carlos Guillen reaching on a double and then left on the bases.

In the Cardinal seventh, Schumaker lead off with a walk, but Aaron Miles grounded into a double play. With two outs, Rick Ankiel drew a walk. Troy Glaus followed him with a single to left, and Tigers' manager Jim Leyland brought in fire-baller Joel Zumaya. The pressure mounted for the reliever when he walked Chris Duncan, loading the bases for Yadier Molina. The tension really thickened in Comerica Park, filling in the empty seats where the bulk of the crowd had bailed after the long rain delay. The count went full to Molina, but Zumaya's next pitch was nowhere close to the strike zone, making it easy for Molina to take the RBI walk, the Cardinals going up 6-5. But bases were still full, however, with Kennedy at the plate. Zumaya got ahead of the recently hot-hitting Kennedy, who fouled off several offerings before flying out to Curtis Granderson in center field.

Jason Isringhausen relieved Perez, and got himself in a jam when Miguel Cabrera singled to start off the Tiger seventh. Isringhausen then walked Clete Thomas, and Gary Sheffield singled. Just like that, the bases were full of Tigers with no outs. The Cardinals were content to trade some outs for the tying run, Edgar Renteria grounding to Brendan Ryan at short, over to Miles covering second, the pivot to Kennedy for a double play, Cabrera scoring, Thomas advancing to third. Troy Glaus scooped an Ivan Rodriguez ground ball and fired corner to corner to end the inning.

Hitting with the game tied, Nick Stavinoha ground out. Ryan drew a walk, however, and with Skip Schumaker at the plate, advanced on a Zumaya wild pitch. The crafty reliever mixed the rest of his pitches to Schumaker, getting him to swing at strike three on a breaking ball in the dirt. Miles would get a shot at him, shooting a single near the foul line in left field. Ryan scored easily on the RBI basehit, the Cards going up by one yet again, now at 7-6. Leyland took a walk to the mound, getting the ball from Zumaya and handing it off to reliever Bobby Seay. Ankiel face Seay first, who has trouble with left-handed hitters. Seay had not trouble with Ankiel, however, striking him out while tending to Miles leading off first base.

Now with Schumaker in left field, Chris Duncan at first base, and Ryan Ludwick in right field, Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa went to left-handed reliever Randy Flores. Granderson had his way, however, singling to center, and La Russa pulled Flores for Kyle McClellan, bringing in the right-handed rookie to face Placido Palonco. The Tigers put on the sacrifice bunt, but Molina pounced on the ball, gunning the throw to Ryan covering second base to get the lead runner. Polanco then took second on a wild pitch by McClellan, making up for his bunting miscue. Carlos Guillen advanced Polanco to third base with a ground to the right side. Magglio Ordonez supplied the RBI this tie, singling home Polanco, and the tying the game at 7-apiece.

Tigers' reliever Tom Jones came on to shut down the Cardinals one-two-three, giving his team a shot at a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth.

Clete Thomas came to the plate at a quarter to one in the morning, eastern time in Detroit. Still on the hill, McClellan fell behind him 3-0, fighting back to a full count before Thomas rocketed a high fast ball to the left field fence. On second base and with no one out, Thomas would read whatever came off the bat of teammate Gary Sheffield. McClellan fell behind Sheffield in the count, then worked another full count, this time Sheffield ripping a walk off single into center field, scoring Thomas for the 8-7 victory.