INDIANS 12, Tigers 11
CLEVELAND — As if Detroit’s sports fans weren’t already angry enough at Clevelanders.
Their beloved Pistons are on the verge of being bounced from the NBA playoffs by the Cavaliers and their Michigan Wolverines have lost five of the last six games to archrival Ohio State.
A near certain Detroit victory was blown to tatters Friday night at Jacobs Field when the Indians rallied for five runs in the ninth inning to win 12-11 and beat the Tigers for the fifth straight time.
David Dellucci’s two-out, line-drive single to center off Todd Jones scored Trot Nixon with the winning run, touching off a mob scene of celebratory Indians players who piled on the surprising hero by first base.
“It was an incredible win,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge, whose team upped its Central Division lead to 41/2 games over the defending American League champion Tigers. “Our guys just kept fighting. We had to keep coming back.
“It was just an incredible game and an incredible finish.”
The Indians overcame three four-run deficits, entering the ninth inning down 11-7.
All of it came in front of the first sellout crowd of the season (41,365) at Jacobs Field, where the Indians, who own the majors’ best record at home (19-4), have won 12 of their last 13 games.
“Being home with everybody still in their seats, that was stupid. It was unbelievable,” said Indians first baseman Ryan Garko. “I don’t think we ever thought we were out of it.
“I think when Vic (Martinez) hit that home run we really started feeling like we had a shot.”
Martinez’s three-run shot off Jones — his second homer of the game — brought the Indians to within a run of the Tigers’ lead. Cleveland went deep four times on the night.
Jhonny Peralta doubled to keep the momentum going before Garko struck out for the second out of the inning. Trot Nixon was walked intentionally, and moved to third on a bloop single from Josh Barfield, who advanced to second on indifference.
Dellucci, who has struggled at the plate for much of the season, delivered on a 2-1 fastball.
“This one was crazy,” said Martinez, who drove in a run for the eighth consecutive game. “It looked like they got the game.”
The Tigers lost for the seventh time in eight games (five to Cleveland), with Jones allowing five runs in an inning of work, while blowing his fourth save.
“We needed a win against these guys and I didn’t get it done,” said Jones, who came on to allow an RBI single to Nixon in the eighth before getting the final out of the inning. “I just got crushed tonight. There’s not much else I can say.”
Detroit was in control for much of the night, including the start, when they touched up Fausto Carmona for two runs in the opening inning.
It was clear early that Carmona, who entered his ninth start of the season with a 6-0 record and 2.08 ERA over his last seven outings, had left “The Zone,” with the right-hander allowing a triple to the first batter of the game — Curtis Granderson.
Carmona allowed five runs on 10 hits through six innings — the hit total a season high and the run count the most he’s surrendered since his debut this year on April 13.
Carmona was able to steady himself after the first to allow just a run over the next four innings, but let the Tigers build their lead back up to four on a two-run homer from Craig Monroe in the sixth.
“Fausto still pitched a good ballgame,” Wedge said. “He was just a fraction away from giving us six innings and three runs.”
Carmona was able to avoid the loss when the Indians tied the game at five with a four-run sixth inning off Tigers starter Mike Maroth, who left without a decision, surrendering five runs on seven hits through six innings.
The Indians’ relief corps was the first to unravel.
After Cleveland fought back to tie the game through six innings, Tom Mastny failed to make it out of the seventh, allowing four runs on two hits and two walks before giving way to left-handed specialist Aaron Fultz.
With the bases loaded, Fultz walked the first batter he faced on four pitches before allowing a sacrifice fly to Monroe that put Detroit in front 9-5. It was fourth time in five outings that Fultz walked the first batter he faced and the third time it forced in a run.
Cleveland scored twice in the eighth before Indians reliever Fernando Cabrera allowed two more in the ninth to set the stage for the remarkable comeback.
It was a magical victory for the Indians, who have conjured up plenty at Jacobs Field this season.
“You’ve got to keep it in perspective,” Garko said. “More than anything I think it will continue to build our momentum and our team chemistry.”
And more hatred from the Detroit folks.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Detroit
WHERE: Jacobs Field
PITCHERS: Lee (2-2, 5.86 ERA) vs. Durbin (4-1, 4.39)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WMMS 100.7-FM