Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Tigers keep slim playoff hopes alive


The Tigers' Yorman Bazardo made his second major league start last night. He pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up six hits and walking three as Detroit handed the Twins their 14th shutout of the season.


DETROIT - The big-screen TVs in the Tigers clubhouse showed postgame coverage of their 8-0 win over Minnesota, plus highlights from the Oakland-Boston game.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland didn't have the set in his office turned on last night, as it usually is.

The defending AL champions - clearly - were not riveted to the end of the New York-Tampa Bay game, hoping hang to hang in the playoff race for at least another day.

"I know we're going home Monday. I'm not an idiot," Leyland said well before the Devil Rays beat the Yankees 7-6 in 10 innings.

"But I'm not going to sit around and be dejected tonight because the Yankees are going to clinch the spot."

Said Sean Casey: "We're not watching unless it comes down to the last day."

On the brink of being eliminated, Magglio Ordonez and the Tigers hit, pitched, and fielded as if something was at stake.

Ordonez homered and doubled, and Yorman Bazardo threw seven scoreless innings against the Twins, who didn't score for a baseball-high 14th time - tying the franchise record they matched last year.

To stay in contention, Detroit needed to win the rest of its games this week and have the Yankees lose all of theirs to force a one-game playoff for the AL wild card.

Ordonez's double in the three-run sixth marked the Tigers' 2,550th total base, surpassing the previous franchise record set by the 1987 team that went to the AL championship series.

"That's huge," Ordonez said. "It's an honor to be a part of Tigers history."

The outfielder leads the majors with a .359 batting average, giving him a shot at being the first Tigers player to win a batting title since Norm Cash in 1961.

"We can talk about the batting race on Sunday," the soft-spoken Ordonez said.

His 28th homer, a 437-foot liner over the left-field wall, put Detroit ahead 6-0 in the seventh and gave him a career-high 136 RBIs - the most by a Tiger since Rocky Colavito drove in 140 in 1961.

"It means I'm back," said Ordonez, who was limited to 52 games with the Chicago White Sox in 2004 and 82 the next season in Detroit because of injuries.

Curtis Granderson hit his major league-leading 23rd triple, the most by a Tigers player since Ty Cobb had 24 in 1917 and three short of Sam Crawford's record set in 1914.

Bazardo (2-1) gave up six hits and three walks while striking out five in his second major league start.

Matt Garza (4-7) was having a good night until he hit Placido Polanco to lead off the sixth and let him advance on an errant pickoff attempt.

"The game was going along OK, and Garza was throwing good, but he did it to himself again. He lost control of the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's so intense and he gets out of whack. When you're screaming at yourself on the mound, it doesn't bode well.

"He was OK until he got some adversity, but that's when you have to control the game. He's a young man with a great arm, and he'll get there."

Brandon Inge's two-out double in the second inning put Detroit ahead 1-0 and fired up what had been a quiet crowd in a mostly filled ballpark.

The Twins had their chances against Bazardo.

Minnesota had two on and one out in the second, but the threat ended with two strikeouts.

The Twins had three hits in the fourth, but came away with nothing because of a double play and an inning-ending groundout with two on. With two on in the sixth, Bazardo got another inning-ending strikeout.

Before Charlie Woody was born, Leyland was spending frigid winter days selling baseball tickets with a giant parrot.

As a rookie manager in Pittsburgh, Leyland was pulled out of spring training to spend a day with the Pirate Parrot in a promotional gimmick.

"We sold some tickets that day," he said. "That was a bad situation - people used to call and ask when the game was, and we'd say 'When can you be here?'•"

Two decades later, Woody has become a symbol of how far Leyland's managerial career has evolved.

The 10-year-old Plymouth resident was honored before last night's game as the Tigers' 3 millionth fan of the season, the first time the franchise has ever reached that mark.

"That's an unbelievable number, once you actually think about it," Leyland said. "You don't notice the fans while you are managing, but then you stop and realize that three million people have come to see us play this year. That's a lot of people."

In 2003, the Tigers drew only 1,368,245 fans, while losing a league-record 119 games. By 2005 they had drawn 2,024,485 fans. But everything changed last season, when Detroit drew just over 2.5 million fans.

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