BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH: TIGERS 16 (7) – 4 MARINERS
More runs in a single inning than you’ll see all year—nineteen in the game, nine in the fifth, storming home in front of Detroit’s home faithful. The first warm breeze of almost-summer easing into the ballpark, thinking they might not squander away the Miguel Cabrera years after all. That there may yet be something left.
He’s on the bench, healing, recovering. Watching. Thinking. Trying his best to hope.
Chris Heston on the mound for Seattle. Fifth inning, a buzz in the air in downtown Detroit. Black and white “Mr. I” patches on the Tigers’ sleeves—just two months after beloved owner Mike Ilitch passed away.
The half-inning begins as Austin Romine leads off with a single to right. Kinsler follows with another base hit, his third of the game.
“Attaboy, Kinze,” says a voice on the TV broadcast, more familiar than maybe any other.
The Man Who Can’t Leave Michigan, Kirk Gibson. Grew up in Waterford. Starred with Michigan State football. Starred with the Tigers, won a championship. Left for L.A., for Kansas City, for Pittsburgh. And back for three years to finish a career back in Detroit. Then on into the TV broadcasts, into the coaching staff. Another trip away, for five years, off to Arizona to manage the Diamondbacks. And now, again, back. For the howeverth-many time. Fox Sports Detroit. A Michigan Man. Watching the best inning since—
Anyone remember from last year?
With two men on, Tigers up 7-4 Heston’s pulled and Evan Marshall comes in from the Mariners’ bullpen.
Tyler Collins steps up. On the third pitch, lines a hanging changeup to deep left over Heredia’s head, a bounce off the wall, back onto the grass as he scrambles into second and Romine scores.
Still no outs. Castellanos up. First pitch single up the middle and two runs are in. Four pitches from Marshall, three runs already in.
The Tigers at 15 hits, the season high.
Then, Victor Martinez. Pulls one fair down the first-base line. Jogs in to second. Castellanos on to third.
“Evvvvrybody hits tonight,” they say on the TV broadcast.
Five straight hits, until a groundout from Justin Upton. And then Alex Avila, up after a home run in the fourth. The intentional walk from Marshall—early 2017’s still-weird sight of the auto-advance to first base, skipping past the four-pitch toss and trotting down the line without a single pitch.
James McCann comes up, RBI-walks on five pitches. Castellanos trots home. Batted all the way around and it’s 11-4 Tigers. Austin Romine comes up, again, knocking a Baltimore chop up over the pitcher and off the glove, bouncing down to Segura at short as the barehand attempt slips away. Everyone safe. Another run scores. 12-4 Tigers.
And the hits, well, they just keep on coming:
They keep on coming, indeed. Ian Kinsler steps up again, reaches down on a curveball and knocks a one-handed bloop single into center. Two more score. Avila sliding home safe with Joe West behind, making the call, the throw in time but Zunino missing on the tag. Kinsler dashes into second. 14-4.
First pitch base hit from Collins on a hard line drive to center. Dyson bobbles it and two more score. 16-4 Tigers. And they score and they score and they score and they score.
“We’ll have to check the record books,” Gibson says on the broadcast, “for runs and hits in an inning.”
The claws are out in the stands. Orange and foam and pride coming back to Tigertown. The fans all rise and clap. Miguel Cabrera looks out from the dugout elated.
It’s baseball season in Detroit.
“What an inning for the Tigers,” says Impemba—“their biggest of the year, a nine spot!”
We’re all behind our baseball team, one of them seems to say, Go get ’em, Tigers!