The Tigers scratched and clawed their way back into yesterday's season opener on two separate occasions. They trailed by two runs in the seventh, when they scored four runs to take a 6-4 lead. Pittsburgh scored two in the eighth to tie it up, then scored four in the top of the ninth to take a 10-6 lead. Not to be outdone, the Tigers pushed across four runs of their own to force a 10-10 tie going into extra innings.
This is when controversy struck.
After a wild pitch moved Nicholas Castellanos to second base with two outs, JaCoby Jones (who entered the game as a pinch runner in the seventh) lined a base hit to left with a drawn in outfield. Castellanos rounded third and appeared initially to have beaten a throw to the plate. Amidst the team's celebration, however, the Pirates challenged the play. After a lengthy review of the play, umpires determined that he was tagged before he crossed the plate.
“I didn’t feel him tag me or anything,” Castellanos told the Detroit News. “They said there was one angle from up top where his glove maybe touched my sleeve.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was far from impressed with the call. Upon seeing the signal that Castellanos was out, he rushed out to the field and had a rather short but quite heated conversation with an umpire, and was sent packing after kicking dirt over home plate.
“He’s pretty upset,” said bench coach Steve Liddle, who took over after Gardenhire's ejection. “That would be an understatement.”
Jones felt that the quick turn from jubilation to rejection was tough. “Such a change of emotion,” he said. “We were so happy, so pumped up and then, ugh.”
Despite rallying from multiple deficits and forcing extra innings, the Tigers fell behind for good in the 13th when Alex Wilson served up a three-run home run to Gregory Polanco on a 3-0 count.
“To come back like that, the guys just kept grinding out at-bats,” Liddle said. “It’s evidence of the message Gardy has been trying to bring to the guys this year. We’re going to be in it until we’re not.”