Indians beat Tigers on walk-off balk

Tim Timmons motions for Asdrubal Cabrera, who was on third, to take his base after Al Alburquerque balked with the bases loaded.

Tony Dejak


Things could probably get worse for Detroit in Cleveland this week.

Other than Ohio invading Michigan, though, it is hard to see how.

While the Cavaliers knocked the Pistons out of the first round of the NBA draft, the Indians were sweeping the Tigers, including a barely believable 11-10 victory on Wednesday afternoon.

In a game that lasted well over five hours, the Tigers led 4-0 in the first inning, 9-7 in the bottom of the ninth and 10-9 in the bottom of the 13th, but lost when Al Alburquerque balked in the winning run with the bases loaded and two outs in the 13th.

It hurt more to lose Miggy, but we were able to take the lead a couple times without him.

Brad Ausmus

Alex Avila had given the Tigers their latest lead with a homer in the top of the inning, but Phil Coke became the third Detroit pitcher of the day to blow a lead. Mike Aviles led off with a single, took second on a bunt and Coke then drilled Asdrubal Cabrera on the left kneecap.

After a lengthy delay, and with the Indians almost out of players — they had already used Thursday’s scheduled starter, Josh Tomlin in relief — Cabrera slowly limped to first base. Michael Brantley followed with an RBI single, scoring the tying run.

Coke got David Murphy to ground out, with the runners on second and third, and Gene Lamont — we’ll get to why he was managing in a little bit — brought Al Alburquerque in to face Yan Gomes. Alburquerque badly missed with his first two pitches, and the Tigers walked him to load the bases for Ryan Raburn.

As Alburquerque prepared to throw his first pitch to Raburn, the hobbled Cabrera took a couple quick steps toward the plate. Even though he could barely walk, the movement was enough to distract Alburquerque. He flinched obviously enough that Raburn threw his hands up in victory before home-plate umpire Tim Timmons even had a chance to signal the game-ending balk.

"It was pretty blatant," Avila said. "He was coming to a set and he stopped. The home-plate umpire, third-base umpire and second-base umpire all called it at the same time, so there wasn’t much question about it."

That wasn’t the only time Timmons had been unusually involved in the game. In the sixth inning, with the game tied at 7, Timmons called Ian Kinsler out on strikes, even though replays showed that Kinsler had checked his swing in time. On the next pitch, with Miguel Cabrera at the plate, Timmons made the same call, again without consulting first-base umpire Tim Welke.

Cabrera gestured toward first, and Timmons ripped off his mask to bark back. Within moments, an argument had ensued, and Cabrera was quickly ejected. That brought Brad Ausmus sprinting out of the dugout, and within seconds, he had also been ejected.

"I got ejected — so be it," Ausmus said. "That stuff happens. It hurt more to lose Miggy, but we were able to take the lead a couple times without him. He’s not always going to be there, and we have to be able to score runs without him."

Even though it appeared that Timmons made the right call on Cabrera, Ausmus was more upset about the third strike to Kinsler.

"Clearly, in my mind, he didn’t swing," he said. "He didn’t come close to swinging. That’s why the first-base umpire is there, so you can check those things, and if they had checked, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been called a strike."

Cabrera missed three plate appearances, but it was the pitching that cost Detroit the game. 

Max Scherzer gave up the early lead, allowing seven runs in seven innings, while Joe Nathan couldn’t hold a two-run lead in the ninth and Coke fell apart yet again in the 13th. 

"That’s a good team over there, and I never felt like I could cruise against them," said Scherzer, who allowed all seven runs in the first three innings before shutting Cleveland out for the next four. "They were beating me up with two strikes, and I was able to make some adjustments and at least keep us in the game. Give them credit, though, they just kept coming back on us."

At the end of the season’s craziest game, the Indians had finished off a three-game sweep, and a road trip that started brilliantly was ending with the Tigers limping back to Comerica.

"This was a tough loss," Ausmus said. "We came in here having won six straght on the road, and we got swept. But this is baseball, and there’s always another game coming up."