Energetic Berry jolts Tigers to win over Angels

BY foxsports • July 16, 2012

DETROIT — Let's face it, there are a lot more Quintin Berrys than there are Miguel Cabreras and Mike Trouts.

Players who make the big leagues at 20 and succeed immediately are special, and not at all the norm.

That's why Berry's story with the Tigers has been so much fun to watch.

Berry was called up when Austin Jackson went on the disabled list with an abdominal strain. After 692 games in the minors, he finally made the show at age 27.

It would have been easy to send Berry back to Triple-A Toledo when Jackson got healthy, but Berry's play made it very difficult to do so.

Monday's 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels showed why.

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Tigers trailing 5-2 after the Angels scored four in the top of the inning, Berry laid down a perfect bunt for a base hit. After Cabrera walked, Berry scored on Prince Fielder's single.

"That was the first time I've seen anybody play back like that," Berry said. "I definitely wasn't going to let that go by. If they give it to me, I'll take it any day."

In the seventh inning, Berry led off with a single. He stole second and then after Cabrera grounded out and the Angels walked Fielder intentionally, Berry stole third, his team-leading 14th stolen base.

The play at third was a little close, which made manager Jim Leyland nervous.

"With a jump like that, he could’ve been thrown out pretty easily," Leyland said. "You just gotta be careful, particularly with those big guys up there — you gotta be sure you can make it. You gotta be sure. You steal with Cabrera up there, you almost gotta say that you can make it standing up."

Delmon Young's sacrifice fly scored Berry, tying the game at 5. Brennan Boesch untied it with a two-run home run.

"Usually you got Miggy or Prince up but I thought it was a good opportunity for Delmon, he's a guy that can drive the ball deep into the outfield," Berry said. "If it's not out, it'll be close. I thought it was a good opportunity to get to third for him."

Then after a bomb off Joaquin Benoit by Mark Trumbo cut the lead to 7-6, Berry came through again.

In the eighth, Alex Avila and Jackson walked. With one out, Berry hit a single to center field that scored Avila for the final margin of victory. It also gave closer Jose Valverde a little extra breathing room.

"He gives them a different dimension to their offense," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's got the speed to make plays, and he's obviously in a great spot in the order with Cabrera and Prince coming up behind him.

"That's helped Jackson a lot too, and they are both having great years and impacting the offense. You can see the things that Berry brings to that team, and a lot of those things helped them win the game tonight."

Berry agreed that having Cabrera and Prince behind him makes life a little easier for him.

"(With) Miggy and Prince, I get pretty good pitches to hit," Berry said. "And with Jackson, I'm in a pretty good situation. He's on first, I'm getting a lot of fastballs. Those guys, they don't want to mess around putting me on base. So it turns into three runs instead of just one."

Berry's final line for the night: 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI and two stolen bases.

"He’s been absolutely fantastic for us," manager Jim Leyland said. "He’s done a terrific job. He’s been absolutely terrific for us. He’s exciting. That gives us another way to score some runs sometimes. But the thing that I’m impressed with, is he’s knocked in some big runs. He’s had some big hits and knocked in some runs."

Although the Tigers lost 8-6 in 13 innings in Baltimore Saturday night, Berry had two big RBI, one to tie the game in the ninth and another to go ahead in the 13th.

In 46 games, Berry is batting .297 with 30 runs scored, 18 RBI and 14 steals.

"His play's been exceptional, that's just the bottom line," Boesch said. "He's got on base, stolen bases, big hits. That's what you want. It's great to see someone having as much fun as he is. It reminds me of when I was called up for the first time, too."

Berry has perspective that 20-year-olds don't have. He knows from hard experience that baseball is not a success-only journey.

"I'm happy with the success I have right now," Berry said. "I always want to get better. I always expected myself to be able to get here and be able to help a team win. That's all I wanted to do is be able to help a team win. I'm just happy for that.

"Like I said, things could go wrong. But I played this game in the minor leagues for a long time. To have any lack of confidence that I could be up here doing what I'm doing, I wasted a lot of time in the minor leagues."

And if Berry needed any more proof that he's in Detroit to stay, he got another sign Monday night. Via their official Twitter account, the Tigers said the D Shop at Comerica Park would start selling Berry's No. 52 on T-shirts this weekend.

"It’s a great story about somebody that finally gets a chance, waited a long time for it, and he’s taking advantage of it," Leyland said. "It’s nice to see."

Even without that news, Berry was already having the time of his life.

"I'm having a blast," Berry said. "This team is great, they're so much fun to play with and we're winning. It's so much fun."

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