Tigers 7, Orioles 5(11)
For three hours Tuesday, Johnny Damon’s 2,500th career hit
seemed sure to be the highlight of his night.
It didn’t end up that way.
Damon’s next hit was a game-ending homer in the 11th inning as
the Detroit Tigers rallied to beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-5.
“The ball from my 2,500th hit is going in the trophy case, but
No. 2,501 is the one I’m going to remember for a long time,” Damon
said. “Hitting a homer in a situation like that never gets
Austin Jackson led off the inning with a single off David
Hernandez (3-7). Damon followed by hitting an 0-2 pitch so hard
that Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis immediately walked off the
field, not even turning around as the ball sailed over his
“I thought about having him bunt, because we had Magglio
(Ordonez) and Miguel (Cabrera) coming up, but I decided that the
guy has 2,500 hits, so I might as well let him have a chance,”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It might have looked smart, but
it wasn’t any more complicated than that.”
Damon had singled in the third inning for his milestone, and
received a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd of 22,532.
“This is my first year here, and I’ve been OK, but I’ve wanted
to do a lot more than I have,” Damon said. “That’s why it meant
the world to me to get that kind of reaction. I’ve always thought
Detroit had great fans, but tonight cemented that in my
Hernandez was pitching his second inning after Baltimore closer
Alfredo Simon had blown what would have been the first multi-inning
save of his career. The Orioles bullpen was depleted after Kevin
Millwood had lasted just one inning in Monday night’s game.
“We’re not getting wins in bunches right now, so we decided to
go for it when we had the chance,” Orioles manager Juan Samuel
said. “We thought Alfredo could get five outs, and we thought
David had looked strong in his first inning, but that team has a
lot of dangerous hitters.”
The Tigers trailed 4-1 going into the eighth, but Cabrera led
off with a triple and scored on Brennan Boesch’s single. Brandon
Inge’s one-out triple scored Boesch to make it 4-3 before Simon
struck out Alex Avila.
Ramon Santiago walked, but Jackson, pinch-hitting, bounced out
to end the inning. Julio Lugo made it 5-3 with an RBI single in the
Damon walked to lead off the ninth before Cabrera tied the game
with the long homer off Simon.
“That guy throws too hard to try to hit a homer off him,” said
Cabrera, who fell a double short of the cycle. “If you do that,
you are just going to pop it up. I was trying to make contact, and
I hit it hard.”
Cabrera and Damon’s late-inning homers both landed deep in the
“There’s no defense against balls hit like that,” Leyland
said. “When you’ve got guys who can hit them out there, there’s
nothing the other guys can do about it.”
Ryan Perry (2-4) got the win with a scoreless inning of
The Orioles stranded 10 runners in the first six innings, but
finally broke through against Armando Galarraga on Markakis’
two-run homer in the seventh. Felix Pie, activated from the
disabled list before the game, added an RBI single later in the
Baltimore got a break in the bottom of the inning. After
Santiago walked, Don Kelly hit a hard grounder off first baseman Ty
Wigginton’s glove, but the ball bounced right to Lugo, who threw
back to Wigginton for the rare 3-4-3 putout.
Markakis added an RBI single in the eighth before Detroit’s
rally in the bottom of the inning.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score more runs, but even
then, we still had the lead going into the ninth inning,” Samuel
said. “At some point, we’ve got to start closing out these games
and get some wins.”
Detroit had taken a 1-0 lead on Avila’s RBI single in the
second, and kept the lead in the third when Don Kelly’s diving
catch in center field robbed Wigginton of an RBI single.
NOTES: After the game, Galarraga was optioned to Triple-A Toledo
in a planned move. Because of the All-Star break, the Tigers will
not need a fifth starter until July 20, so Galarraga will make a
start in Toledo on July 15 to avoid rust. … To replace Galarraga,
the Tigers purchased the contract of reliever Robbie Weinhardt. …
Pie replaced Millwood, who was placed on the DL with a strained
forearm. … Wieters hit his second career triple in the seventh
inning – both coming against the Tigers. … Damon joins former
teammates Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as the only
active players with 2,500 hits, 1,500 runs and 1,000 RBIs. …
Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 15 games. … Michigan
native Mike Modano, currently a free agent, spent the game in the
suite of Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch.