DETROIT -- The weather was chilly again at Comerica Park, but despite a 36-degree first-pitch temperature, Dixon Machado didn't seem to notice."Today was great," said Machado, whose first career walk-off home run finally decided a back-and-forth affair with a 6-5 Tigers win over the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon. "When the
DETROIT -- The weather was chilly again at Comerica Park, but despite a 36-degree first-pitch temperature, Dixon Machado didn't seem to notice.
"Today was great," said Machado, whose first career walk-off home run finally decided a back-and-forth affair with a 6-5 Tigers win over the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon. "When the sun is out, it doesn't feel that bad."
Between the sun, the hitting and the bullpens, a frigid afternoon for hitters heated up late, with the two teams scoring eight runs over the final two innings. For Machado, the bigger discomfort was the dogpile that awaited him as he rounded the bases on his second Major League home run, making sure he put his foot on each base.
"They punched me. They threw water, ice, everything," Machado said. "That's OK. If we're winning, that doesn't matter."
That's the philosophy seemingly guiding the Tigers through the comebacks and opposing rallies of the first few weeks. Whatever happens during the game, from an early pitching duel to two blown leads over the final two innings, Detroit never seems to be out of any contest. The Tigers keep competing, as manager Ron Gardenhire emphasizes, right to the final out. They've brought the tying run to the plate in the final inning of their losses more often than not, and they boast more ninth-inning runs (11) than in any other frame.
"This team is fun to watch. Nobody can deny that," said catcher John Hicks, whose three-run homer in the eighth gave the Tigers a short-lived 5-4 lead entering the ninth.
What had been a pitching duel for the first six innings broke open once the bullpens took over. Matthew Boyd's 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball and Jose Cabrera's sixth-inning solo homer on his 35th birthday sent the Tigers into the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead. The top third of the Orioles' lineup reached base safely and scored to begin the inning off Daniel Stumpf and Drew VerHagen, highlighted by Manny Machado's RBI single up the middle.
Once Chris Davis doubled off the top of the left-field wall, the Orioles had a 4-2 lead to hand to setup man Darren O'Day, who struck out Cabrera for the first out before back-to-back one-out hits set up Hicks, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his first three at-bats of the day, and 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts on the season up to that point.
"After my third at-bat, I was sitting at the end of the bench like, 'Get past it,'" Hicks said, "'go up there with a fresh mindset and, honestly, just get yourself comfortable in the box.'"
Said Gardenhire: "You can do one of two things: You can sit there and let it happen, or you can do something about it. And this team did something about it."
This is what the Tigers continue to do, even after the Orioles' Luis Sardinas greeted closer Shane Greene with a home run leading off the top of the ninth to erase the lead Hicks' homer had just created.
"When Hicks hit his home run, we thought we had it, but they came back," Machado said. "That's baseball. But we didn't give up. We keep looking forward."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Machado ends it: Machado had never faced O's reliever Pedro Araujo at any level, but the second baseman admitted he was thinking about a home run as he stepped into the batters box. After taking a first-pitch fastball outside, he was anticipating Araujo trying to come back inside on him. Machado turned on Araujo's heater and sent it just over the left-field wall.
"'If he throws in, just try to hit it out,'" Machado said he told himself. "He threw it right in my spot. When I saw the left fielder turn around and kind of give up, I said, 'OK, that's a homer.'"
While Boyd became the first Tigers left-hander since at least 1908 to deliver six or more innings of one-run ball or better in his first three starts of a season, his no-decision also made him the first Major League pitcher since Pedro Martinez in '94 to do that and not earn a win in any of those starts, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
HE SAID IT
"I'm good now. We won. I hit a home run [and] a double." -- Cabrera, on what he wants for his 35th birthday
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
JaCoby Jones went from first to third on a hit-and-run play as Jose Iglesias grounded to short following Jones' leadoff single in the seventh. After a quick look on replay, however, the Tigers challenged, arguing Iglesias beat the shortstop Machado's throw to first. A 57-second review overturned the out call, giving Iglesias an infield single and putting runners on the corners with nobody out.
Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 8.18 ERA) faces Orioles starter Alex Cobb (0-1, 17.18 ERA) in his first start since taking a line drive off his right jaw in Cleveland last week as the Tigers wrap up their series against the O's with a 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch Thursday at Comerica Park. MLB Network will pick up the telecast for fans outside the Detroit market.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.