The Seattle Mariners scored three runs in the ninth and walked it off against the Detroit Tigers on Monday night, 3-2. That happened.
The Tigers were without their regular back-end relievers Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit because they were receiving a night off, so Jim Leyland went to Octavio Dotel in the ninth inning with the Tigers up 2-0. The usually reliable Dotel couldn't throw a strike, though, walking the first two batters and falling behind 3-0 on the third batter he faced, Jesus Montero, before Montero ultimately doubled on a full count to tie the game. Dotel was pulled in favor of Duane Below, but the Mariners would sacrifice bunt a pinch runner over to third and score the winner on a sac fly off the bat of John Jaso.
Of course, many are going to question Leyland's decision to ever go to the bullpen in the first place when Doug Fister, returning from injury, needed only 73 pitches to make it through seven stellar innings. Even after deciding to go to the bullpen, Coke needed only eight pitches in the eighth, so Leyland may have jumped the gun again when he decided to go to Dotel. And then, ironically, Leyland may have been too slow in pulling Dotel in the ninth. That's baseball, and stuff.
No matter how you break down Leyland's decisions, though -- and I will in more detail -- the Tigers really need to find a way to pull these kind of games out. It's not too concerning yet here in early May, but 2009 shouldn't be too far out of painful memory banks to realize that these are the kind of games that could come back to haunt.
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