Machado's clutch hit lifts Tigers over Royals in 12th
By Jason Beck and Jeffrey Flanagan
DETROIT -- Rookie Dixon Machado drilled a two-out RBI single in the 12th inning off Royals closer Greg Holland as the Tigers rallied for a 5-4 walk-off win on Friday night at Comerica Park.
Kansas City's magic number to clinch the American League Central remained at six as the Twins were rained out against the Angels. The Royals' lead over the Blue Jays for home-field advantage throughout the postseason dropped to one game (Toronto owns the tiebreaker). By beating the Royals, the Tigers ensured that Kansas City will not be able to clinch the division this weekend in Detroit.
Royals rookie Paulo Orlando produced an RBI groundout that scored speedy pinch-runner Terrance Gore in the top of the 12th to give the Royals a 4-3 lead. But Holland walked Tyler Collins with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 12th, tying the score and setting up Machado's heroics.
"It was calm and nervous at the same time, because it's a moment that you've been dreaming of all your life," Machado said. "But he left that pitch high and I just got a good swing on it."
Holland blew his fifth save of the season, but said his confidence level remained high. Asked why, he said, "I think I've thrown some pretty good outings the last nine or 10 times so I didn't even think I was struggling."
Royals manager Ned Yost said he thought Holland was going to get out of the jam. But later in the postgame session when asked further about Holland, Yost said, "I'm done talking about Greg."
Royals ace Johnny Cueto, who had lost five straight over a span in which his ERA was 9.57, was terrific on Friday. Cueto held the Tigers to one run through seven innings before giving up a leadoff double in the eighth. He gave up eight hits and two runs overall, while walking one and striking out four.
Justin Verlander went 8 2/3 innings for the Tigers, giving up two runs and just five hits. He struck out seven. Verlander was pulled after giving up a two-out single to Eric Hosmer. Right-hander Alex Wilson came in and served up a two-run homer to Salvador Perez, tying the score at 3.
"It was a good win," Verlander said. "Obviously the ninth inning didn't go the way we wanted, but we battled back against a really, really tough bullpen and came back and were able to win it. I'm really happy for Dixon and the team."
Royals second baseman Omar Infante, who had a career-high seven RBIs on Thursday, left the game with a left oblique strain. Shortstop Alcides Escobar also left the game after getting hit by a pitch on his left elbow.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Big homer by Salvy: Perez nearly hit a two-run homer off Verlander earlier in the game, but the long blast hooked foul. This time off Wilson, Perez belted it to deep to left-center and into the Royals' bullpen. Perez now has the club lead in homers with 20, one more than Mike Moustakas.
Miggy ends slump: Miguel Cabrera entered the game in an 0-for-20 slump that ranked as the second-longest hitless streak of his Tigers tenure, and the third-longest of his career. He promptly ended the drought with a first-inning double down the right-field line to score Ian Kinsler from first base with the opening run, then drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth with just his second sacrifice fly of the season.
"He had a couple doubles tonight, obviously," Ausmus said. "He had a couple good at-bats, good at-bat against Herrera. Miggy's human, but it's just a matter of time until he starts hitting like Miggy again."
Paulo from Sao Paulo: Orlando continues to produce even though he is being played sparingly. On Friday, he got a spot start as Lorenzo Cain heals from a slight ankle sprain. With Alex Rios on second and two out in the fifth, Orlando ripped a double down the left-field line. That tied the score at 1. Orlando then produced the RBI groundout in the 12th.
No victory for Verlander: Perez was 21-for-44 for his career off Verlander, and 6-for-9 this season, when he stepped to the plate as the potential tying run with two out in the ninth inning. With Verlander at 114 pitches, manager Brad Ausmus decided against the matchup and went to Wilson, his best right-hander for most of the season. Two pitches later, Perez had tied the game. More >
"He was at 115 pitches, Perez has hit .450 off him over the course of 40 plate appearances, he's got nine extra-base hits," Ausmus said. "The last three guys barreled the ball up on Ver. I thought it was a no-brainer."
"When I saw Collins walk, I was like, 'OK. This is the moment.' I never thought that I would get to hit at that moment. -- Machado, on getting a chance to win the game
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Verlander has delivered a quality start without getting a win eight times in 17 outings this season. He had the same number of quality starts go unrewarded in 32 outings last season.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (13-8, 3.59 ERA) will start the middle game of this road set on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Volquez went just five innings, allowing four runs in a loss to Cleveland on Monday.
Tigers: Left-hander Matt Boyd (1-5, 8.02) will get the ball on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET for the rematch in this series against Kansas City at Comerica Park. Boyd will make his first start in 11 days, having skipped his last turn due to back-to-back rainouts in Cleveland.