It went into the wee, wee hours. There were 40 strikeouts between the two teams. And then it all ended with the Tigers relying on their bullpen and the Mariners relying upon the foot speed of Justin Smoak.
Not exactly a strength against strength situation.
The game-ending play: Smoak on first, Dustin Ackley at the plate facing Joaquin Benoit. Ackley doubles to right field. Smoak is on his horse! His horse suffered shrapnel wounds at the Battle of the Vicksburg and is just barely holding on, but Smoak is on it! Torii Hunter fields the ball, relays to Prince Fielder who relays to Bryan Pena. IT’S GONNA BE CLOSE!
Oh, wait. It wasn’t particularly close at all, but it still was fairly spectacular.
Look, I don’t know why third base coach Jeff Datz sent Smoak. It was really, really late so maybe he was tired. Maybe he thought Smoak had another gear. An old riding lawn mower has another gear of course, and that doesn’t make it fast, but maybe that’s what he was thinking. I’m sure there have been worse sends in the history of the game. None come to mind at the moment, but there had to have been worse sends. They’ve been playing baseball for, like, 150 years. As I sit here now, I’m gonna say that it was the worst send since Walter Donovan made those soldiers go into the cave without Henry Jones’ Grail diary to help navigate the Three Trials.
But don’t get too down about it M’s fans. Here’s Dave Cameron to put it all in perspective for you:
The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.
When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.
Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.
A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”
In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.
The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.
Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.
In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.
Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.
The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.
Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.
The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.
The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.