Tigers show off speed in walk-off win over Royals
DETROIT -- These are not the Detroit Tigers of even two years ago, not with this speed.
It's that speed that helped the Tigers come back in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals' dominating bullpen for a 6-5 walkoff win at Comerica Park Friday night.
The Tigers (19-11) moved a half-game ahead of the Royals (18-11) for the Central Division lead.
Anthony Gose led off the bottom of the ninth with a double that he thought about extending to a triple.
Then Gose thought better of it.
"I was thinking three but when I saw him get to the ball as fast as he did, then get it to the cutoff man, with the heart of our lineup coming up, you don't want to be out at third with two, three, four, five, six coming up," Gose said. "Our whole lineup, basically, you don't want to be out."
Ian Kinsler was bunting towards third base when Royals pitcher Yohan Pino fielded the ball.
Pino, just called up from Triple-A earlier Friday, threw wildly to first, which allowed Gose to score, ending the game.
"That was an exciting walk-off," Kinsler said. "I've had walk-off hits, I've had a walk-off home run and that one was probably more exciting than both."
Kinsler finished 4-for-4 with two RBI, his team-leading 14th multi-hit game of the season.
"That guy's probably one of the most professional guys in baseball," Gose said. "Every year he's as consistent as anybody in baseball, he shows up every day, he plays hard, he plays to win. He's a leader on this team. That guy, he's unbelievable and he keeps us going."
Royals manager Ned Yost said if they had managed to field the bunt successfully, he was going to walk Miguel Cabrera intentionally and leave it up to Victor Martinez.
But these Tigers no longer have to rely on station-to-station baseball.
They nearly had a chance to get the go-ahead run in the eighth, a seemingly impossible task against Wade Davis.
J.D. Martinez, who is in the midst of an 0-for-25 skid, worked a walk.
Rajai Davis pinch ran for J.D. Martinez and stole second, despite the presence of catcher Salvador Perez, who had caught 8-of-11 stealing before Friday.
It was Davis' team-leading eighth stolen base.
"Him and Raj, everyone in the building knew Rajai Davis was going to steal that bag and he still got it," Kinsler said. "Anthony's the same way. Those two guys are premier at stealing bases in the game and it's really nice to have them on the team."
Although the Tigers did not score against Davis, he did have to throw 20 pitches to get through the inning.
Gose stole second base in the seventh, his sixth of the season.
"He's unafraid when he's on the bases, he has the ability because of his speed to distract the pitcher," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's done a nice job at the top of the lineup when he's been in the game."
The Tigers have 28 stolen bases as a team. In 2013, they ended the season with a total of 35 stolen bases.
With Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes and the two Martinezes in the lineup, the Tigers will get their home runs this season.
But on Friday, for one night they showed they didn't any to win.