DETROIT – Emmanuel Clase rocked like a fleeing freight train trying to find a track to jump.
He had a 6-5 lead in the ninth inning with one out. It was throwing gasoline at 100 mph, but the Detroit Tigers weren’t impressed. He walked Robbie Grossman on a 3-2 pitch. Jonathan Schoop made a single left on the first pitch he saw. Jeimer Candelario sent a double play point at first base, but Jake Bauers blew it up and had to settle for one out as Clase sprinted from the mound to cover the sack.
This brought rookie Akil Baddoo to the plate with two strikeouts. In April, he had hit the first big league field he had seen for a home run. The Indians remembered him because he did it against Aaron Civale, who will face the Tigers on Tuesday night.
So they turned around Baddoo to take on their former wide receiver Eric Haase with the bases loaded and the game on the line.
Haase has been on a roll with the Tigers. He caught the non-hitter from Spencer Turnbull on May 18. The day before, he played on the left court and hit two home runs.
The first two Clase throws at Haase were over 100 mph and were off the plateau for balls. Receiver Rene Rivera, with bases loaded, was reluctant to call Clase’s cursor as he had already bounced a couple in the dirt. With the tying point at third base, it was too big a bet to take.
But Clase threw a chopped fastball at 100.9 mph for the first strike to put him back to bat at 2-1. On the bench, manager Terry Francona expired. But not a lot.
Clase’s next pitch was another sliced fastball at 100 mph that Haase lined up on right field. When asked how it felt to see the ball rolling towards the outfield, Francona replied, “It’s really hard to explain. Your stomach is in your throat and you have to understand that the game is going to be over one way or the other. This is torture. But it’s fun. I love it, but it’s torture.
It turned out to be sweet torture because Jordan Luplow, who replaced Josh Naylor in right field in the eighth inning, took a head first dive for the ball and caught it just before he kissed. the grass of the outfield for the final.
“It’s as close as you can get to losing without losing,” Francona said. “It was fun. When I say fun, it was awfully fun.
Rookie southpaw Sam Hentges was in the clubhouse watching the game on TV after pitching the game’s first five innings. Asked about the final game of the match, he said: “It was great. Everyone was standing to look at this land. Then we heard a roar and we weren’t sure if it was from our canoe or from the fans in the stands.
“It was an incredible take. It was really nice to come out of here with a win.
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