With forks buried into their sides, the Cleveland Indians players walked off the field on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in devastating fashion. They were done. The clubhouse was a mortuary where nails were being pounded into coffins. Their season is finished. The AL Central is now a two-team race. The 2012 season for the Indians is effectively over.
The Tigers rallied in amazing fashion after it once looked as though they would win, only to blow a golden chance, then crumble in the 10th, only to pull off one of the most amazing wins in several years.
The game was tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth. Austin Jackson, already with one triple on the night, led off the inning with another. Omar Inante was next. He had to get the job done. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were coming up next. The Indians would no doubt walk the bases loaded to avoid the fearsome duo. Infante failed. With the infield pulled in, he struck out. With Cabrera and Fielder walked, Quintin Berry then had a great chance with the bases loaded. The Indians used five infielders and two outfielders to try to cut down a ground ball. With Berry's speed, they would need to be quick. Berry grounded one to first, and Carlos Santana turned an impressive 3-2-3 double play to wiggle out of an impossible jam.
In extra innings, it looked as though the Tigers had blown it. Joaquin Benoit served up back-to-back home runs to Travis Haffner and Ezequiel Carrera. The Tribe added another run on a double. The Indians players were all smiles in the dugout. They had pulled out a win against ridiculous odds in the ninth. This looked like a devastating loss for the Tigers. Fans streamed for the exits. This one was over.
It was 8-5 heading into the bottom of the 10th. They would need to come back against closer Chris Perez. Perez had dominated the Tigers this season. He was 7-for-7 in save opportunities against Detroit. He got the first two batters quickly to put the Tigers down to their final out, down three runs with no one on base. No way they could come back from this.
Alex Avila started the rally with a walk. Then, Andy Dirks, who's finally returning from an Achillies injury, drew another walk. They tying run was at the plate. It was the red-hot Austin Jackson. He kept it going with a shot down the left field line for a double. Jackson went 4-for-6 on the afternoon with a double and two triples. The score was now 8-6 Indians with Dirks on third and Jackson on second, representing the tying run. Infante came up again. He had failed in embarrassing fashion with the game on the line only an inning earlier. With two strikes, he served a slider into center, just out of the reach of the shortstop to bring home the tying runs. The Tigers bench went crazy, along with the half-full Comerica Park.
This time, Miguel Cabrera would get a chance to hit. Why Manny Acta decided not to walk Cabrera is a mystery. Sure, it would put the potential winning run at second, but we're talking about Miguel Cabrera here. Acta should've walked Cabrera and Fielder to bring up Berry again. It worked before, why not this time?
Cabrera made them pay. He crushed a bomb, high and deep into left-center. The ball barely made it into the bullpen for a walk-off, two-run homer. The Tigers won it, 10-8.
The win improves the Tigers record to 58-50, while the Tribe drops to 50-58. The Tigers remain 1.5 games back of the White Sox. If the season were to end right now, the Tigers would be one of the Wild Card teams. The Indians are 9.5 back, while riding a nine game losing streak. This one was crushing. Their season is over. This game was reminiscent of one from last year where the Tigers rallied from a 8-1 deficit, and hit two homers in the ninth. Ryan Raburn tied it with one, then Cabrera won it with a walk-off. That one effectively ended the White Sox season.
This one hurts even more than usual. To be one out away with a three-run lead and no one on, and still lose it, is crushing. With 54 games to go, the Indians are finished. They're professionals, and they'll try their best to get over it, but how can you just simply turn the page when you cough one up like that? Simple answer - they can't. They'll probably go through the motions out there for awhile. See you in 2013, Indians.