One risky call, two insurance runs
Lost amid Rick Porcello’s strong outing, Austin Jackson’s game-tying homer and the back-to-back hits Cabrera and Fielder put together for the go-ahead run was the call from Jim Leyland to put runners in motion on a full-count pitch to Ryan Raburn.
With runners at first and second and nobody out, it could have literally killed the rally and left closer Jose Valverde to protect a one-run lead. Instead, with Clete Thomas beating Sean Rodriguez to second base and spoiling what would’ve otherwise been a double play, it extended the inning for two more runs.
Raburn went hitless on the day, but he put the ball in play four times. His last, a ground ball to Rays shortstop Reid Brignac, came with Prince Fielder on second and Clete Thomas pinch-running at first. Both took off on the 3-2 delivery from former Tigers prospect Burke Badenhop.
That was Leyland’s call, though he was trying not to take credit.
“You’re taking a chance,” Leyland said. “If he hits a line drive to somebody, it’s a triple play, and you look like a fool. If he strikes out and they throw Prince out at third, you look like a fool. I just took my chance that you’ve got a sinkerball pitcher and I thought Raburn could put it in play. I thought he might hit it on the ground, so I sent them. It worked out.”
If it’s a double play grounder, Jhonny Peralta’s fly ball is the third out instead of a sac fly. And Gerald Laird never gets to the plate for his flare hit for an RBI single.