Tigers come back from three down in ninth to make it 12 in a row

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As Hawk Harrelson would say if he weren’t limited to moans and groans at the moment, the Tigers have owned the White Sox this year.  They rallied from three runs down in the ninth and prevailed 6-5 in the 10th today, giving them a 12th straight victory.

It’s the longest winning streak by a team this year and the longest for the Tigers since 1934.  They finished the season series with the White Sox winning 13 out of 18 games.

Alex Avila, who didn’t start, and Carlos Guillen, who hadn’t started in 11 days, were the heroes in this one.  Serving as a pinch-hitter for just the second time this year, Avila hit a game-tying two-run homer off Sergio Santos in the ninth.  Guillen homered in the second and delivered the go-ahead single in the 10th as part of a 3-for-5 days.

The comeback denied Dylan Axelrod a victory in his first major league start.  He left with a 5-2 lead after striking out eight in six innings.  Tigers starter Brad Penny gave up all five White Sox runs.  Four of them were unearned, but it was Penny’s own error that preceded the runs.

Avila’s homer was his 19th and gave him 77 RBI on the season.  Miguel Cabrera is the second Tiger expected to get some down-ballot MVP votes this year, but I’m not sure Avila isn’t more deserving.  He’s played in 128 games this season and has a .919 OPS.  The only primary catcher within even 100 points of OPS of him is Atlanta’s Brian McCann at .841.

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.