10/17/12 3:51 AM ET
Tigers not sweating missed chance at big inning
By Anthony Odoardi / MLB.com
It took a gutsy full-count curveball from Phil Coke to escape the ninth inning with a 2-1 win and 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.
But there was an opportunity earlier in the game that could have given Coke some breathing room.
Second baseman Omar Infante singled with one out and center fielder Austin Jackson earned a walk to put runners on first and second. Outfielder Avisail Garcia -- pinch-hitting for Quintin Berry -- came through with his usual clutch base hit, but the speedy Infante, who had stolen second a few pitches earlier, was unable to score.
"I think I have to wait for the ball to pass," Infante said.
With it being a soft line drive and the ball just sailing over the infielder's head on its way to center, Infante hesitated. It was just long enough for third-base coach Gene Lamont to throw his hands up.
"He stopped me," Infante said. "I thought I had a chance to score, but I think it was a good decision by [Lamont]. I think I might've scored given my speed. My thought is to go to home plate and score, but he [told] me to stop and I had to stop."
Standing at first, Jackson had a similar view of Garcia's hit and said he mimicked Infante's reaction.
"Yeah, I think he froze a little bit. We both did. That's a tough read right there," Jackson said. "Kind of a soft line-drive hit. You don't want to get doubled off right there. That's a tough situation to be in, you know? The best thing to do is kind of just hold your ground until it gets past him."
Whether it turned out to be the right call is unknown. Curtis Granderson isn't exactly known for his strong arm, but given who was looming in the on-deck circle, holding the runner to load the bases with one away was considered no-brainer.
"We had [Miguel] Cabrera at-bat and you don't want to make an out in that situation," said Infante, who reiterated it was a good decision.
The Detroit third baseman, who led the American League in average, RBIs and home runs, appeared primed to further the lead.
However, he also paced the Majors in grounding into double plays, and that's what occurred as he scorched a first-pitch 94-mph fastball into the glove of Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez.
Chavez picked the ball, fired to Robinson Cano at second and Cano threw to first. Inning over. No runs cross the plate.
"He hit that ball right on the screws and [Chavez] made a tough play and he was able to get them out of the inning," Jackson said.
"Oh, he made a great play," Cabrera said. "Get out of the inning right there. I didn't get so lucky right there."
Fortunately for the Tigers, they got lucky and escaped with the victory. They won't reminisce on a tough break in the sixth inning as they sit one win away from the World Series.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.