DETROIT — One of the things that made the Detroit Tigers’ win on Tuesday night extra special was just how close things were to falling apart.
After the Tigers surged ahead of the Cleveland Indians with five runs in the bottom of the seventh, reliever Daniel Stumpf was on the verge of giving it right back in the top of the eighth.
Stumpf, who has struggled of late, loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit and a couple of walks,
Pitching coach Chris Bosio made a slow walk to the mound, but he wasn’t stalling for time. Right-hander Buck Farmer, who had been “warming up” in the bullpen earlier, was nowhere to be found.
This was Stumpf’s inning, for better or worse.
What happened to Farmer?
He was unavailable on Tuesday night due to recent workload and manager Ron Gardenhire had never planned to use him. He just told him to stand on the mound in the bullpen as a decoy to make the Indians think the Tigers had both a lefty and righty available in the eighth.
“I don’t know if it worked or not,” Gardenhire said.
As for Stumpf, Gardenhire shrugged and said, “Well, he created the stinking mess. Now get out of it.”
Stumpf did just that, striking out Brandon Guyer and then getting Jason Kipnis to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Whether through relief, exaltation or some combination of both, Stumpf pumped his arms several time and gestured in thanks to the middle infielders who bailed him out.
“You’re hoping to get at least one out, but two is the dream,” Stumpf said with a smile.
The inning was over, the lead was safe and the Tigers would win. (Though not without some more drama in the ninth).
Things are rarely easy with the 2018 Tigers, but they are usually a lot of fun.
Seventeen of their 41 games — 41 percent — have been decided by one run. They’ve played another eight two-run games.
“This team, there’s so much fight,” said Tigers catcher/first baseman John Hicks. “It’s awesome to be around. We never feel like we’re out of a game.”
In addition to Farmer, relievers Warwick Saupold and Joe Jimenez were unavailable Tuesday night. On Wednesday, those three should be OK to pitch, but Shane Greene and possibly Stumpf are likely to be off.
Tigers reliever Daniel Stumpf gets out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the eighth inning last night to help secure a 9-8 victory over the Indians. Our coverage starts with #Tigers LIVE at noon as we go for the sweep today. pic.twitter.com/0SgrEDZmyp
— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) May 16, 2018