Miguel Cabrera’s walk-off HR gets K-Rod, Detroit Tigers off hook

Jun 15, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Miguel Cabrera hits a walk-off two-run home run to rightfield in the ninth inning to lift the Tigers past the Rays, 5-3, at Comerica Park.

Francisco Rodriguez wants to pitch in the late innings.

He said as much two days ago, when he expressed his ire at being eased back into high-leverage roles with a heavy dose of low-leverage roles, leaving the veteran reliever with a 6.35 ERA wondering about the kind of communication — or lack thereof — he has had recently with manager Brad Ausmus and pitching coach Rich Dubee.

Rodriguez got what he wanted Thursday night at Comerica Park. The result was perhaps predictable: The right-hander blew a late lead on a monster home run, serving up a solo shot to Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr., In failing to protect a one-run lead in the top of the eighth inning.

But the Detroit Tigers backed Rodriguez in a big way an inning later, when Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off home run to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3. It was Cabrera’s first home run in 22 games.

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    With the win, the Tigers avoided falling five games under the .500 mark for the first time this season.

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    Souza Jr.’S home run caused the Tigers’ big break go to waste: They took a late lead an inning earlier, when Victor Martinez’s routine ground ball went underneath the glove of Rays shortstop Daniel Robertson at shortstop.

    Taking the no-decision was Justin Verlander, who fought through struggles once again but turned in an otherwise solid seven innings. The ace righty’s mechanics seemed out of whack early, his pitch count climbed much too high too quickly once again, but he kept the Tigers in the game and was, for a brief second, in line for the win.

    Verlander allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. He walked five batters and struck out six. He has walked 42 batters this season, tops in the American League.

    After the Tigers spotted him a lead when Victor Martinez singled home Ian Kinsler in the first inning, Verlander gave it back in the second on an RBI groundout by Daniel Robertson.

    The Rays notched another run an inning later, when Logan Morrison rapped a hard-hit RBI double over the head of centerfielder Alex Presley. It would be their last against Verlander, who, despite battling command issues, was steady the rest of the way.

    Verlander was matched by Rays righty Alex Cobb, who nearly matched him over seven strong innings. Cobb allowed three runs — two earned — over seven innings.

    Cabrera’s walk-off home run was the seventh of his career.

    Detroit Tigers top prospect Joe Jimenez off DL, will pitch in Lakeland.

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    Contact Anthony Fenech: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.

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