Texas Rangers: Gene Lamont
October, 11, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Take your pick on chances the Detroit Tigers had to score and failed -- particularly in the first two innings of Games 1 and 2 -- but they've got to be second-guessing the ninth-inning decision not send Ramon Santiago home.
With two outs in the top of the ninth of Monday's 3-3 tie, Santiago singled to bring up Don Kelly, who ripped a double off Michael Gonzalez into the right-field corner. Santiago rounded second, headed to third and looked to third-base coach Gene Lamont.
"With two outs, I'm expecting to score," Santiago said. "But I got the stop sign early, so I know it hadn't bounced around out there."
Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, the game's eventual hero with his 11th-inning grand slam, said he had bobbled it, but "Picked it up as quickly as I could."
Cruz made a strong throw to the cut-off man and had Santiago tried to score it did have the makings of a bang-bang play at the plate. However, at the rate the Tigers were producing runs this series, it might have been worth the risk.
Still, Detroit had AL batting champ Miguel Cabrera ready to swing the stick and that might have also figured into Lamont forcing Santiago to slam on the brakes. But, Cabrera was walked intentionally for Neftali Feliz to go after Victor Martinez, who popped out thanks to a circus catch made by Elvis Andrus to end the threat. In the bottom of the ninth, Detroit closer Jose Valverde pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam.
Had Santiago made it home Detroit could have flown home with a series split.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland backed up his base coach, saying Santiago could not have scored.
"The ball came back to him," Leyland said of Cruz playing the bounce. "We were hoping it would kick back, but it didn't. It just came back to him and that's kind of the luck of the draw."