DETROIT -- The Tigers had used every available position player. The Mariners had used every available reliever, though they had starter Nathan Karns available in a pinch.With the chance at a series sweep and Mariners closer Steve Cishek headed toward 40 pitches Thursday, the Tigers went for it in the
DETROIT -- The Tigers had used every available position player. The Mariners had used every available reliever, though they had starter Nathan Karns available in a pinch.
With the chance at a series sweep and Mariners closer Steve Cishek headed toward 40 pitches Thursday, the Tigers went for it in the 10th -- pinch-hitting with Victor Martinez, pinch-running with Cameron Maybin and Mike Aviles. In the end, it came down to a walk-off wild pitch, the second in the Majors this season.
As getaway games go, it was pretty crazy.
"Hey, we were running short, too," manager Brad Ausmus said.
The oddities began in the first inning, before Mariners starter Adrian Sampson could throw his first official pitch. He felt discomfort in his elbow while warming up, forcing Seattle manager Scott Servais to go to his bullpen and Vidal Nuno. Tigers starter Daniel Norris, too, was gone by the fifth, having yielded three home runs -- two in his final frame.
"It definitely leaves a bad taste in my mouth, the last inning," Norris said. "I think for the first four, I felt strong. I think I just got kind of tired in the fifth. I'd been feeling pretty good in all my starts this year, but today, I just kind of hit a wall."
Add in an extra-inning game to open the series Monday, and both teams had extended their bullpen. Once Cishek took the mound for the ninth, the only Mariners reliever left was lefty Mike Montgomery, who tossed 3 1/3 innings Wednesday night and wasn't available.
The Mariners' hope was to give him a lead to finish off. But once Shawn O'Malley was thrown out between third and home, and Kyle Ryan struck out Robinson Cano, Seattle was stuck trying to extend the game, rather than finish it.
Ausmus couldn't be sympathetic. His bullpen was running low, too, leaving Ryan to pitch for the fourth time in five days.
"I didn't want to use K-Rod, but he was up a couple times," Ausmus said of closer Francisco Rodriguez. "I didn't want to use Justin Wilson. I didn't want to use Ryan, but the circumstances called for it."
So when Steven Moya drew a one-out walk off Cishek in the 10th, Ausmus went all in to try to win it there. Maybin, who got a day out of the lineup to rest his tight left quad, pinch-ran for Moya. Martinez, off Thursday to rest his knees, hit for James McCann.
Martinez's single moved Maybin to second, where he decided not to risk trying for third despite the defense scrambling to cover the base. Once left fielder Seth Smith overthrew Kyle Seager racing for the bag, Maybin had an easy stroll.
Though Martinez's run meant nothing, Ausmus didn't want him running. Thus, on came Aviles, Detroit's last position player. That left Andrew Romine to hit against Cishek, who struck him out swinging after a squeeze-bunt attempt went foul.
That left Ian Kinsler as Detroit's last hope to end it, until Cishek's 1-0 pitch in the dirt took care of it without a swing.
"Each baserunner has to decide on their own whether they think they can make it," Ausmus said, "depending on how fast they are and how far away the ball gets from the catcher. Fortunately, Cam's one of the faster guys on the team."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.