Instead of a bag day, Tigers can thank the bag
Through coaxing, Leyland able to get third base after the game
DETROIT -- Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont wants a World Series ring. He still has an opportunity to win it this year after they pulled out Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday, and he tried to grab the bag that helped save that chance for him.
"I tried to get the base after the game, but it had a camera in it," Lamont said after Detroit's 7-5 victory over Texas.
Whether it had any luck left in it after the Tigers milked some out of it is unknown.
"Sometimes you need a little luck," Lamont said with a smile. "Sometimes a lot of luck."
Lamont makes his living at third base, even if he doesn't make plays there. It's his job to judge balls all over the field and decide whether that runner heading in from first or second has a chance to score on it. He has had an active and much-discussed series at that, from his decision to hold Ramon Santiago at third base in Game 2 on Monday as the potential winning run to his choice to send Miguel Cabrera on Delmon Young's eighth-inning fly ball in Game 4 on Wednesday.
All in all, Lamont has proven to be a pretty good judge, especially on balls headed past third base and into left field. But he had no way of anticipating what was going to happen once Cabrera's ground ball in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game headed that way.
Lamont saw Rangers Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre playing the line and getting in front of the ball, behind the bag, ready to start a double play. He saw Beltre put his glove up at what ended up as thin air and look behind him in bewilderment.
He saw Ryan Raburn charging for third while the ball was still bouncing around the left-field corner, making his job easy -- Raburn waved in, Tigers pulled ahead.
Lamont still couldn't quite believe it. He has seen plenty of balls hit the bag over his years coaching there, but very few react like that.
"It happens," he said, "not very often. Just lucky it hit kind of the front [of the bag] and skipped up. If it just hit on the top, he would've probably caught it."
Lamont figured the topspin helped determine the hop. To him, though, that was the first break. The second lucky bounce was the way the ball rolled into the corner, strong enough to get there yet not quickly enough for left fielder David Murphy to have a play at the plate.
"When it went down there, I could see it go into the corner, and it kicked," Lamont said. "It was slow. That's what happens sometimes. This one took a long time to get there. That makes a difference.
"It was hit hard enough that it got down in the corner. It could've just stopped. If it had done that, he would've run straight for it."
After the game, it took a little negotiation from the higher powers to procure the base. Eventually, manager Jim Leyland ended up with it.
"I have that bag in my office right now," Leyland said. "And that will be in my memorabilia room at some point in my life, I can promise you."
For now, it's going to stay in the clubhouse.
"You know, it put us to Game 6," Lamont said. "[It's] not for me, for the team. Between that and Victor [Martinez] hitting the triple standing on there, it's quite a bag."