The Detroit Tigers used the long ball to stave off elimination and defeat the Oakland Athletics 8-6 at Comerica Park on Tuesday.
A series-deciding Game 5 will be played on Thursday in Oakland.
Trailing 3-0 in the fifth inning, Detroit got on the scoreboard with a three-run home run from Jhonny Peralta, who returned to the club at the end of the regular season following his 50-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy in August.
Two innings later with Oakland ahead 4-3, Victor Martinez tied the game with a solo home run to right field. The Athletics claimed that a fan interfered with the ball, but the umpires did not agree. The Tigers would score another run in the seventh to capture the lead at 5-4.
The turning point in the game was the eighth inning. The Athletics had the bases loaded and no outs in the top frame, but were unable to score any runs off of Tigers ace Max Scherzer, who picked up his second win of the series with two innings of relief.
Following Oakland’s inability to score any runs in the top half of the inning, Detroit added three more runs to its total in the bottom frame to take an 8-4 lead. The Tigers’ offense explosion was a bit of a surprise after they had scored just six runs in the first 31 inning of the ALDS. In the first three games of the series, the Tigers hit .077 against Oakland relievers, but they improved to .455 in Game 4.
The Athletics gave a valiant effort in the ninth inning to cut the Tigers lead to 8-6 with a two-RBI single from Yoenis Cespedes, but Joaquin Benoit was able to strike out Seth Smith to end the game.
Closing a series has been an issue for Oakland this century. Since 2000, the Athletics are 1-11 in potential series-clinching games. They will get another chance to earn a trip to the ALCS in front of their home fans on Thursday.
Justin Verlander is the likely choice to start Game 5 for the Tigers. Sonny Gray and Bartolo Colon are the Athletics’ top candidates.