Tigers let one get away in Texas
Rodney surrenders three runs in ninth inning
ARLINGTON -- Jim Leyland, the straight-shooting Tigers manager, has made a reputation as a man of many words and zero excuses during his four decades in the big leagues.
He lived up to the reputation again Tuesday. He had no other choice. His club gave up three runs in the final inning to turn a near-victory into a 5-4 loss at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"It's been the same story," Leyland said. "We got a two-run lead in the ninth and we don't hold. They got three runs before we got an out. That's not good. I can't make it any more simple than that. I'm sorry. I'm not mad at anybody or upset with anybody, but last night we come in and don't hold it, tonight we don't come in and don't hold it. That's as simple as it is."
Leading, 4-2, in the bottom of the ninth, Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney got ahead of Michael Young with a 0-2 count, but the Rangers shortstop eventually drew a walk after an eight-pitch battle. Josh Hamilton followed with a single and eventually scored along with Young on a triple by Marlon Byrd to tie the game at 4. Intentional walks to Hank Blalock and Nelson Cruz loaded the bases for rookie Chris Davis. Davis followed with a line drive to left field that scored Byrd for the game-winner.
The Rangers dugout erupted in cheers. Leyland erupted in anger, expressing his displeasure with home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez over the result of Young's at-bat to start the inning and Rangers' rally.
The skipper did not mince words.
"Michael Young was struck out," Leyland said. "Everybody thought Michael Young was struck out including, Michael Young. He started to walk away to the dugout. That's no excuse for us not winning the ballgame, but Michael Young was struck out clearly. I don't say anything, but you get tired of not saying something every time."
Rodney's breakdown ruined an effective outing for Tigers starter Zach Miner. The young right-hander outdueled Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, allowing only five hits and two runs in 7 1/3 innings. Miner struck out three batters and walked one in the 104-pitch outing, his 11th start of the season. His first 32 appearances with the Tigers came in relief, so he could sympathize with Rodney's plight.
As for Millwood, he allowed four runs on five hits in seven innings. He struck out seven hitters.
"I've been there myself," Miner said. "You just feel for the guy, and obviously Fernando is going to get the job done more often than he does not. You just got to forget about this one and go get them tomorrow."
The Tigers scored first in the first inning, when Curtis Granderson scooted home on a two-out single by Miguel Cabrera. Miner made the lead stand for the first two innings until Davis scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Boggs to tie the game at 1 in the third. Hamilton scored on a single by Cruz in the fourth inning to give the Rangers a temporary 2-1 lead.
But the resilient Tigers rallied for three runs in the seventh inning, the first two coming on a single by Brandon Inge that brought home Cabrera and Matt Joyce for a 3-2 lead. Inge advanced to second on a throwing error by Byrd on the play and scored on a single to center by Dusty Ryan for the Tigers' fourth run of the game.
With Miner on the bench, Tigers reliever Casey Fossum retired the last two hitters of the eighth inning with a two-run lead to set up Rodney in what appeared to be a Tigers victory. It wasn't.
"I'm upset we lost the ballgame. I don't put the blame anywhere," Leyland said. "I'm just saying when you are in something, you should get it, and Michael Young struck out. The rest of it we didn't earn. If they beat us with one out and nobody on, I don't have any problem with that."
The Tigers close out the series on Wednesday hoping to avoid the sweep by sending veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia to the mound against Rangers righty Dustin Nippert (3-4, 6.20 ERA). Garcia, who is making his first start since June 2007, doesn't expect to throw more than 75 pitches.
"I'm looking forward to it," Leyland said. "It will be exciting to see him get back out there. He's a workmanlike pitcher. He's very sharp and very smart. He knows how to pitch. We'll see what he brings to the party [on Wednesday]."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.