April 11, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Fernando Rodney (56) pitches during the bottom of the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Justin Verlander and James Shields locked up in a pitchers duel in Detroit. Shields went 8 innings giving up 2 earned runs on 6 hits striking out 5 and walking 1. Unfortunately for Shields, he was paired up against an equally tough Justin Verlander who threw only 81 pitches through 8 innings while holding the Rays scoreless.
Saying that coming back against the Tigers is a tall task is an understatement. Dating back to opening day 2009, the Tigers held a record of 229-1 when leading after 8 innings. The last time the Tigers lost a game game when leading after 8 was July 31, 2010 versus the Red Sox when Phil Coke was pressed into the closers role and gave up a walk-off bases loaded double to David Ortiz to lose 5-4.
Jeff Keppinger pinch hit for Sean Rodriguez to begin the ninth inning and delivered a single. Verlander struck out Reid Brignac to get the first out of the inning before Desmond Jennings singled to put runners at the corners for Carlos Pena. Pena put up a professional at-bat falling behind in the count 1-2 and laying off two Verlander curveballs to run the count full. Verlander uncorked a 100-mph wild pitch to walk Pena and allowed Keppinger to score to cut the lead to 2-1. Evan Longoria followed Pena's walk with an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2 and send Verlander to the showers.
With Matt Joyce due up Jim Leyland went to the bullpen and summoned left hander Daniel Schlereth. Elliot Johnson came in to pinch hit for Joyce and after falling behind 0-2 came back and worked a walk to load the bases. Schlereth's day was done and he was replaced by Jose Valverde who was rudely greeted with a 2-run single off the bat of Ben Zobrist to give the Rays a 4-2 lead.
Fernando "Kung Fu" Rodney came in to work the bottom of the ninth to retire Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Jhonny Peralta to earn his third save (to go along with 1 win) and make a winner out of James Shields and run his record to 5-0 lifetime versus the Tigers.