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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tigers pull ninth-inning Houdini act to stay in game

Trying to keep Monday’s deficit to one run in the ninth inning, the Tigers had to wiggle their way out of a first-and-third, one out situation.

And they did, miraculously, getting an unorthodox double play, turned by first baseman Prince Fielder.

“It was an unbelievable play, unbelievable play. Just a heads-up, instinctive baseball play,” said manager Jim Leyland, whose team lost 3-2 anyway. “Prince made a great play in the ninth, a tremendous play, we just couldn’t come up with the big hit.”

With Brent Lillibridge on third and Shin-Soo Choo on first, Jason Kipnis hit a Phil Coke pitch solidly down the first-base line, right at Fielder, who had to decide which way to go with it.

“In that situation normally he’ll go wherever the ball takes him. If the ball is to his right, he’ll probably go to second, turn a double play that way. In that case, the ball was right to him, it was hit hard enough to where he had time to take a peek at third and Lillibridge was far enough off,” Alex Avila said. “He did a good job of tagging the runner before he continued on. Normally your attention veers off and you go straight to the runner, but he did a good job of getting the tag in. That was pretty heads-up right there.”

It was something that Fielder had already contemplated.

“Before the play happened, I was trying to figure out what I would do. I just figured I was going to get the out at first. No. 1, I don’t think my skills are that good to try and turn that. I felt that it’s better just to get the out and be safe in that situation. Make sure you get the out and try to hold the guy at third,” said Fielder, who also could have tried to throw to second.

“I felt like that would be tough to turn that, so when I caught it, I was going to look the guy back at third. Once he got caught halfway, I was just going to throw it, but Kipnis ran by me and I accidentally stuck it out.”

After scooting down the line, right at Kipnis, and applying the tag, Fielder turned to look Lillibridge back to third. Then he noticed the runner caught in no-man’s land.

“I was going to freeze him and I figured he’d go back,” Fielder said. “He kind of got stuck there. Once I tagged him, I was going to run him, but he didn’t really move yet. So, I just threw it to Miguel (Cabrera) to see what happens.”

Fielder fired to Cabrera at third, behind the runner, sending Lillibridge back toward home plate. Cabrera tossed over Lillibridge to catcher Alex Avila, who tagged the runner out.

“That definitely got us out of a tough situation,” Fielder said. “Coke did a good job of getting a ground ball there to make sure the guy (stayed) at third.”


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