Indians 5, Tigers 4, 11 innings
DETROIT (AP)—Ivan Rodriguez just missed his storybook ending.
But the ball curled foul and Rodriguez grounded out to end the inning on Tom Mastny’s next pitch.
“I hit the ball hard and I missed the homer by three feet,” he said. “Then I hit the next one hard, but right back to the pitcher. That’s baseball.”
Casey Blake made sure Rodriguez and the Tigers didn’t get another chance, hitting a two-out homer in the top of the 11th to give Cleveland a 5-4 win.
“I was just trying to get something going with two outs,” Blake said. “I just happened to run into a slider.”
Blake hit his 12th homer off Jose Capellan (0-1) to help Cleveland pick up its sixth straight win. Capellan was making his debut with the Tigers two days after being acquired from Milwaukee in a trade.
“Capellan hung a breaking ball, and they hit it out,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s baseball.”
The Tigers then loaded the bases on two singles, a wild pitch and an intentional walk. Mastny (6-2) was facing back-to-back All-Stars, but got Carlos Guillen to pop out before Rodriguez’s dramatic at-bat.
“T-Mas was outstanding,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “He really bowed his neck to get a couple of real good hitters there. That wasn’t easy. That was a big lift for us.”
Leyland wasn’t worried about two of his stars failing in a key situation.
“I’ll take that situation every day—Guillen and Pudge with the bases loaded and one out,” Leyland said. “It just didn’t happen today. This was a great baseball game between two great teams, and we came up a little short.”
Joe Borowski was perfect in the bottom of the 11th for his 25th save.
Detroit made it 4-3 with a two-out rally in the fifth. Placido Polanco and Sheffield singled before Magglio Ordonez became the first batter to receive an unintentional walk from Paul Byrd in more than two months, a span of 77 2-3 innings.
Guillen followed with a bloop single to left, scoring Polanco, but Michaels threw out Sheffield at the plate from left field to end the inning.
Rookie Ben Francisco tied the game 4-4 with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth, his third in 13 career at-bats.
“I’m having a blast,” he said. “The whole team is in a good mood right now. We’re winning games. We’re just out here enjoying it.”
Tigers starter Nate Robertson allowed three runs and six hits in five innings. Byrd allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Rodriguez caught the 2,000th game of his career, making him the fifth player in major league history to reach the milestone. Rodriguez received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd of 40,741 when the game became official after the fifth inning. “That’s an incredible achievement,” Leyland said. “You can understand a shortstop or center fielder playing 2,000 games, but it’s pretty incredible for a catcher.” … Zach Miner went two innings for the Tigers. He last pitched June 5 before going on the DL with a strained elbow. … Mastny’s six relief wins lead the AL.