Detroit – On a night where sports stopped across the country, the Tigers and Cubs decided to finish up their three-game series Wednesday at Comerica Park.
In Kenosha, Wisc., police shot a 29-year-old, unarmed black man named Jacob Blake, sparking outrage and protest across the country. The NBA, WNBA and MLS canceled their schedules Wednesday. Also, Brewers-Reds, Mariners-Padres and Dodgers-Giants games were canceled on the MLB slate.
“Given the pain in the communities of Wisconsin and beyond following the shooting of Jacob Blake, we respect the decisions of a number of players not to play tonight,” read a statement from commissioner Rob Manfred’s office. “Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice.”
Both the Tigers and Cubs players apparently discussed the possibility of not playing. Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward opted to not to play in the game, but he encouraged his teammates to play.
And, though the Tigers lent their support flashing Equality Now on the giant scoreboard, the show did go on.
The Tigers erased a two-run deficit with a five-run sixth inning to beat the Cubs 7-6 and take their second straight series.
Things got a little dicey in the ninth. The Tigers had already used Joe Jimenez, Bryan Garcia, Jose Cisnero and Gregory Soto when Buck Farmer took the mound in the ninth with a 7-3 lead.
A double by David Bote, RBI single by Nico Hoerner and RBI double by Albert Almora, Jr., made it 7-5 with nobody out. After Ian Happ singled, Anthony Rizzo hit a ball to the wall in center field.
Victor Reyes tracked it and caught it as he ran into the wall. Instead of a go-ahead home run, it was a sacrifice fly and Farmer was able to close the door.
Cameron Maybin and Austin Romine each had three hits in the game and ignited the pivotal sixth with back-to-back doubles. Romine’s came after Cubs catcher Willson Contreras misplayed his foul pop up in front of the Chicago dugout.
Reliever Rowan Wick was replaced by Ryan Tepera and the Tigers responded with five straight two-out hits – an RBI single by Jonathan Schoop, single by Miguel Cabrera, RBI single by Jeimer Candelario, two-run double by Niko Goodrum and an infield single by Jorge Bonifacio.
That came after Tigers’ closer Joe Jimenez, working in the sixth inning for the first time since 2017, gave up a solo home run to Kyle Schwarber in the top of the sixth.
The Cubs brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh against reliever Bryan Garcia. Anthony Rizzo sent a low-flying missile to right field. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 112 mph, but it straight at Maybin for the second out.
Next up, Javier Baez. Manager Ron Gardenhire summoned power right-hander Jose Cisneros and the at-bat of the night ensued.
Cisnero got ahead of Baez with two 97-mph fastballs, both fouled back. Cisnero then hung a slider that Baez fouled back. He was furious with himself for doing so. Cisnero didn’t throw another slider.
He threw him two straight 98-mph heaters, one Baez fouled off, the last he whiffed on.
Cabrera, who had three hits and a walk, singled home Victor Reyes with what ended up being a vital add-on run in the seventh. Schoop got his third hit of the game in that inning, as well.
The Tigers, climbing back toward .500 (13-16), banged out eight hits in five innings off starter Jon Lester. But they were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and managed just one run off him – that on an RBI single by Romine.
They posted 18 hits on the night.