Tigers manager Jim Leyland talked Tuesday afternoon about the challenges of managing a high-scoring game, rehashing Oakland’s thrilling 14-13 win over Minnesota on Monday night.
Several hours later, Leyland was in the middle of his own crazy game.
Magglio Ordonez hit a grand slam to help Detroit build a seven-run lead after two innings, then they nearly gave it all back before holding on for a 9-7 win over the Seattle Mariners.
“That might have been the hardest game I’ve had to manage all year,” Leyland said. “We talked about it in the pregame press conference, and then it happens to us. That game had disaster written all over it – I could just feel it.”
Leyland’s fears were almost realized as the Mariners put their first two batters on in the ninth inning, but Tigers closer Fernando Rodney retired the next three hitters for his 20th save in 20 tries.
“I wasn’t feeling too good when they got those two on,” Leyland said. “But we came out of it with a win, so it turned out OK.”
Detroit scored just five runs while being swept in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium last weekend, but Ordonez’s first-inning slam helped them match that total before making their first out against Seattle.
“We had a tough trip to New York, but we got things going tonight,” said Miguel Cabrera, who had three hits including a homer. “All we can do in games like that is keep trying to score runs.”
Rookie Rick Porcello (9-6) got the win despite allowing five runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings. Porcello hadn’t started in 16 days after being skipped in his last start before the All-Star break.
“There were times where he looked like he was right on schedule, and there were times that he looked rusty,” Leyland said.
Seattle’s Jack Hannahan hit two of the seven home runs in the game. Placido Polanco homered for Detroit, while Wladimir Balentien and Ryan Langerhans connected for Seattle.
“When you make bad pitches like I did tonight, you are going to pay big time,” he said. “My fastball was up, so I couldn’t get ahead of hitters, and I didn’t make pitches.”
The Mariners went up 1-0 in the first on Jose Lopez‘s RBI single, but the Tigers quickly took command with five in the bottom half and three in the second.
Curtis Granderson led off with a single and scored on Polanco’s double. Olson walked Cabrera and Marcus Thames to load the bases, and Ordonez gave the Tigers a 5-1 lead with his first grand slam in seven years.
Polanco homered in he second and Ryan Raburn added a two-run triple later in the inning when Seattle center fielder Franklin Gutierrez injured his left elbow and knee while crashing into the right-center scoreboard. X-rays on his elbow were negative.
“We’re happy that it is just bruises – it looked a lot worse,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He should be able to play in the next couple of days depending on how sore he is.”
The Mariners, though, outscored Detroit 6-1 over the next five innings to make the finish too interesting for Leyland’s tastes.
“When you’re down that many runs early, it isn’t easy to come back,” Wakamatsu said. “The bullpen did a tremendous job against a big-hitting team and kept us in the game.”
Seattle got a run in the third on Balentien’s RBI single and another on Hannahan’s solo homer in the fourth.
The Mariners pulled to 8-5 on Langerhans’ two-run homer in the fifth and made it a one-run game on Hannahan’s second of the game in the sixth. Cabrera, though, restored Detroit’s three-run lead with a homer in the bottom of the sixth.
Balentien’s homer mad it 9-7 in the seventh, but Detroit’s bullpen was able to hold Seattle scoreless in the final two innings to clinch the win.
OF Carlos Guillen is scheduled to move from Single-A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday as he continues his rehab from a shoulder injury. Leyland said that he will be evaluated after two or three games with the Mud Hens. … Ordonez’s last grand slam had been against the Tigers on July 2, 2002, in Chicago.