Detroit — It turned very quickly into a bullpen game for both teams on Saturday. And 14 pitchers and five lead changes later — it was hard to tell which team had the sixth lowest bullpen ERA (the Cubs) and which had baseball’s highest bullpen ERA (the Tigers).
But in the end, it was the Tigers celebrating a walk-off win.
After the Cubs had scored a run in the top of the 10th off Michael Fulmer, the Tigers won it in the bottom of the inning off closer Craig Kimbrel. A one-out RBI single by Nomar Mazara tied it, then after pinch-runner JaCoby Jones stole second, Harold Castro, who had struck out in three previous at-bats, lined a winning single to left.
Tigers 9, Cubs 8.
Fulmer ended a clean ninth inning by striking out Cubs shortstop Javier Baez with a 98-mph fastball. But as the rules dictate, Fulmer had to start the 10th with Baez on second base.
With one out, Matt Duffy knocked in his fifth run of the game with a line single to right giving the Cubs the lead, 8-7.
Both bullpens had this game in lockdown from the sixth through the ninth. For the Tigers, Tyler Alexander (two innings), Jose Cisnero and Fulmer pitched scoreless, hitless baseball through the ninth.
Six different relievers limited the Tigers to just one run over the final five innings. Craig Kimbrel, the 14th pitcher to enter the game, closed it out, stranding Niko Goodrum at third.
Jump aboard this seesaw.
The Cubs wrested the lead from the Tigers in the fifth inning with one swing. Duffy smacked a three-run home run off reliever Alex Lange, his first of the season, taking the Cubs from two runs down to one run up, 7-6.
The Tigers, after scoring three runs in the first inning and chasing Cubs starter Trevor Williams in the second, parlayed three hits, two walks, a stolen base and a wild pitch into three runs and took a short-lived 6-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Jonathan Schoop, who had a three-hit day, ripped an RBI double in the fourth. Willi Castro ignited the rally with an infield single and a stolen base — the first stolen base of his 99-game career.
But the Tigers gave that lead right back in the top of the fifth. Lange yielded singles to Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but with one out had right-handed hitting Duffy in an 0-2 hole.
He’d thrown Duffy two well-located curveballs down in the zone, but the third one hung up and Duffy didn’t miss it. Duffy, who had four RBIs on the day, also doubled in a run in the third inning, chasing Tigers starter Jose Urena.
The Tigers pulled even with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Cubs lefty reliever Rex Brothers gave up singles to Castro and Akil Baddoo and with one out walked Robbie Grossman to load the bases.
Right-hander Ryan Tepera was summoned. He struck out Niko Goodrum but lost a six-pitch battle with a future Hall of Famer.
Miguel Cabrera, who had knocked in a run with a ground ball in the fourth, fought out of an 0-2 hole, worked the count even and then, seeing a cutter for the fourth time in the at-bat, reached out on one ankle high and rolled it up the middle.
Shortstop Javier Baez flagged it down but had no play.
The Tigers lost the services of third baseman Jeimer Candelario in the sixth. He’d walked and singled earlier in the game. But leading off the sixth, he was hit on his left knee with a slider from Cubs reliever Dan Winkler.
He left the game with what the Tigers announced as a left knee contusion. Goodrum replaced him.
It was the second straight short outing by Urena. The bigger worry, though, is how his lower right leg is going to feel in the morning.
Urena, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings, was drilled in the right leg with line drive by Joc Pederson that left the bat with an exit velocity of 109 mph leading off the third inning.
The ball caromed right to Miguel Cabrera at first base for an out. Albeit a painful out.
Urena stayed in the game but didn’t finish the third inning. He’d given up a two-run double to his nemesis Anthony Rizzo in the first inning and he was tagged for a single and two doubles — and two more runs — before he was replaced by Daniel Norris.
Rizzo is 8 for 16 against Urena in his career.
The initial report from the Tigers was Urena suffered a lower leg contusion, though he was lifted from the game for performance reasons, not health reasons.
Our special thanks to:detroitnews.com