Tigers defy odds with comeback win in extra innings; how rare was it?

0.5%. That was the chance of victory for the Tigers after Brennan Boesch grounded out in the tenth inning for the second out.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably as amazed as I am.

Going into the bottom of the tenth inning, the Tigers had every reason to mail in the ending. The ninth inning ended with Quintin Berry grounding into a double-play with the bases loaded, despite the winning run on 3rd base for virtually the entire inning. The tenth inning began with two back-to-back Cleveland home runs, and an additional insurance run, followed by two quick Tiger outs.

At this point in the game, the Tigers had a 0.5% chance of victory, according to Fangraphs.com, the leading source for this type of thing.

At this point, miraculously, everything started to go to the Tigers. Indians closer Chris Perez lost his control, walking Alex Avila and a returning Andy Dirks to bring the tying run to the plate. That guy, Austin Jackson, has been a catalyst for so much this season, and he came through again with a run-scoring double. Omar Infante tied the game with a bloop hit into centerfield, scoring Dirks and Jackson to bring Detroit all the way back. Lastly, it came down to Miguel Cabrera, who promptly launched a shot to left-center that seems to barely clear the wall just for more drama. 10-8, Tigers win. What a game, what a team.

Up until the last innings, Sunday’s game was relatively uneventful. Max Scherzer had a quality start. Jim Leyland and Gerald Larid were ejected in the second inning. Both teams combined for many run-scoring but typically forgettable rallies. Even with the Tigers getting hot again at Comerica Park and the Indians dropping in the standings, this game wasn’t really one to remember…until the very end.

‘s game is already being hailed as a turning point in the 2012 season. I agree with that, for both teams. For the Tigers, last week’s rough road trip ended with an alright win in Boston, followed by a huge sweep of Cleveland. Disregarding the way that today’s game was won, the Tigers have put themselves 1.5 games back of Chicago, with tons of momentum and a homestand that may just continue the party that began this weekend. The Tigers are 10 games over .500 at home, with the Yankees coming to town for four games. This could be a huge week for the course of the season, and if the Tigers can figure out how to keep things going during the next road trip, August could be an incredible month (like last year). Having the incredible chemistry-creating comeback of today only can help further that process.

For the Indians, this loss may have ended their season. Just over one week ago, Cleveland rallied against Justin Verlander at home, to win a game 5-3 and win the overall series against Detroit. That put the Indians at 3.5 games behind Chicago for the AL Central lead, and it seemed to be the win that kept Cleveland’s management from rebuilding and preparing for next season. That game kept the Indians as playoff contenders. After today, and the three-game sweep by the Tigers, Cleveland is now 9.5 games out of the AL Central lead, and 8 games behind the Tigers, with only six games left against each of the two teams they are behind. Barring a giant comeback (which can always happen!), the Cleveland Indians are out of the AL Central race. It’s down to Chicago and Detroit for two exciting months.

On another note, Sunday’s game will go down in Tiger lore for years to come. If you were at this game, this is one to tell your kids about someday. From what I can find, and from what anyone else has posted, this kind of situation has not happened before. Five runs, with two outs, in extra innings, down by three, with a walk-off home run to end it? An incredible scenario. Usually, I’d have something about how this is the first time this happened since whenever, but no one has that statistic. It might very well be the first. No matter what happens in 2012, Sunday’s game will go down as one of the greatest endings in Detroit Tigers history.

Of course, with a World Series championship after a great August and September, this game may go down as something far more than a crazy comeback victory.

Gordie Fall

Gordon Fall has been around the Detroit sports scene for his entire life and even entered the world with a Red Wings hockey stick in hand. With a variety of connections around the Detroit area, Fall will be presenting the unspoken, yet optimistic truth of our city’s sports scene.