DETROIT — The Tigers and Rays started an hour earlier than usual Sunday afternoon to help mitigate the traffic jam with the Lions opening their football season next door at Ford Field. By the end, the toughest jams they had to endure were on their own bases.
The Tigers were six outs away from a series win against the owners of the American League’s best record. Then they were a strike away from what would’ve been a difficult loss. Jeimer Candelario’s 10th-inning home run kept them alive, before Robbie Grossman’s bases-loaded walk in the 11th earned Detroit an 8-7 win Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
The Tigers had a 2-1 lead entering the eighth behind six strong innings from the piggyback tandem of Tarik Skubal and Jose Ureña. Brett Phillips’ go-ahead two-run homer powered a four-run inning off José Cisnero for a 5-2 Rays lead, but Miguel Cabrera’s two-run single helped the Tigers rally back in the bottom half. Pinch-runner Derek Hill scored the tying run from second base on Harold Castro’s fly ball when Phillips overthrew his cutoff man, the ball bouncing off Joey Wendle’s glove.
Gregory Soto stranded the potential go-ahead run on third in the ninth, but the Rays scored twice off him in the 10th. Andrew Kittredge was a strike away from holding on, but Candelario shrugged off a 1-2 slider in the dirt before crushing a 2-2 slider for a game-tying home run.
It marked the third time since 1916 that the Tigers hit a game-tying home run when down to their final strike in extra innings, and the first since Bobby Higginson on Sept. 14, 1998.