10/13/11 1:05 AM ET
Inge relishes curtain call, laments painful loss
By Chris Vannini / MLB.com
But with two outs in the seventh and down 0-2 in the count to a dominant Alexi Ogando, Inge blasted a game-tying home run to left field. Inge got his curtain call. Comerica Park was rocking. It was set up to be another storybook finish.
But the Tigers ended up on the short end of the stick in a 7-3, 11-inning disappointment to fall behind the Rangers 3-1 in the American League Championship Series.
While he struggled mightily this season -- a season that included a trip to the Minors -- Inge's homers have had a flare for the dramatic. Of his three in the regular season, two were walk-off shots and the other was in his first at-bat back from the Minors. Wednesday's home run was just the second on an 0-2 count in his career.
3-1 hole not insurmountable
"That one was special," Inge said. "Trying to keep the team in it, we battled as long as we could. It just didn't work out for us."
Inge took a 98-mph fastball on the outside of the plate for a called strike to start the at-bat. He then took an 84-mph slider. With the hard-throwing Ogando dominating the Tigers with his fastball this series, Inge didn't want to be beat with one. If he saw another pitch, he would try his best to foul it off.
Inge got his fastball -- right over the middle of the plate.
"It was probably more a location mistake than anything," Inge said. "I don't know where [Texas catcher Mike] Napoli was set up or anything. When I was catching, in a situation like that, I'm not calling a fastball down the middle. It's a fastball either in or up, and I'm sure he [missed]."
Inge said before the game he could sense the atmosphere at Tuesday night's game was dead until the Tigers got things going late. There was a similar feeling around the park in the bottom of the seventh. Detroit had squandered a 2-0 lead and was looking at a 3-1 series deficit.
Inge brought the crowd back to life Wednesday and gave the Tigers a chance, albeit a missed one in the end.
"I got chill bumps," outfielder Austin Jackson said. "He told me they gave him a curtain call for the first time in his career. That was pretty cool. When a guy does that, you try your best to keep the momentum going."
It was a curtain call that had eluded Inge his whole career. He's been an underdog for most of his career, which is what drew the Detroit fans to him. After having gone through perhaps the most tumultuous season of his career, Inge was understandably emotional about being able to tip his cap to the fans.
"The curtain call was pretty cool," he said. "I got chills."
With Ogando's dominance of the Tigers this season well-documented (three earned runs in 23 innings entering Wednesday), Inge also hoped the blast could ignite the confidence of an offense that averaged 4.86 runs per game in the regular season but is averaging 3.25 in the ALCS with so many big bats injured.
"Ogando, he is an incredible pitcher," Inge said. "I'm not taking anything away from him ever. So getting to him, maybe I thought the guys would think we'd have an edge. If we could get to him, maybe we could get to everyone. That was the best part about it."
But the Tigers couldn't, and now they're in a 3-1 hole that only 10 teams have rallied from in an LCS.
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.