For most of this season, manager Jim Leyland and general manager Dave Dombrowski have talked about the importance of Austin Jackson.
"He's our catalyst," Leyland likes to say.
On some nights he is more than that. Monday at the Rogers Centre, in the series finale against the Blue Jays, the Tigers put runners at the corners in the fourth inning.
The Tigers had already put two runs on the board to tie the game. Jhonny Peralta smacked a line drive right at the shortstop for the first out. Alex Avila drew a walk to load the bases. Ryan Raburn struck out swinging for the second out.
Suddenly, Toronto ace Brandon Morrow looked like he was about to get out of the inning in a way that could give his team momentum. (Starter Max Scherzer had looked shaky up to that point).
Then Jackson stepped to the plate. He took a strike. Then a ball. Then mashed a line drive to the wall in the left-centerfield gap. The shot cleared the bases and gave the Tigers a three-run lead. Jackson stopped at second.
"Huge," Leyland said, "biggest hit of the game."
Jackson downplayed it.
Austin Jackson on a roll; clutch hitting propels Tigers
Detroit Free Press | May 10