Rajai Davis' persistence pays off in Tigers' win

DETROIT -- Take a cursory look at the box score from the Detroit Tigers' 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park, and what you'll notice is Rajai Davis' two-out, two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning that fueled it.

But if you were in the stands or, more important, in the Tigers' dugout, it will be a different at-bat that will stand out.

On paper, it will appear to be just a routine flyout to left field in the seventh inning, yet it was anything but. Instead, Davis' inspired 14-pitch at-bat against Twins pitcher Casey Fien was the spark the Tigers needed when trailing 4-1 in the seventh.

"Unbelievable," Tigers reliever Alex Wilson said.

Wilson, who came on to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, has been on the other end of such arduous battles. He knows how much energy and effort they can siphon from a pitcher.

"It completely wears you down. Whether you get the guy out or give up a hit or walk 'em, you get out of that [at-bat] and you're like 'Goooooodnight. Give me the next guy already.' You could kind of see the life in the team kind of come back after that," Wilson said. "Rajai's been a blessing with his attitude all year long. For him to go have that AB and come back up and hit the homer, I told him, 'You earned that one on your last AB. I'm glad it happened for you.' "

Pitcher Randy Wolf called it even before Davis entered the batter's box, predicting the spark-plug outfielder would be rewarded for his previous efforts. The savvy veteran turned out to be right.

With his critical knock, Davis recorded his eighth home run and 20th multi-hit game of the year.

"When Torii [Hunter] took off running, I said it's going to get over his head," Davis said of his former Tigers teammate. "He ain't going to catch it. When it left my bat, I am just glad I hit it hard."

The Tigers might not have ever been in that position had it not been for Davis' perseverance at the plate just the inning prior. The at-bat wore on Fien and the Tigers could sense it. After Davis' flyout, he walked leadoff batter Anthony Gose and surrendered a ground-rule double to Ian Kinsler, which scored Dixon Machado and set up Victor Martinez' game-tying RBI double.

"I think it definitely helped, no doubt. It frustrated him a little bit, wore him down a little bit. He had a tough time finding the strike zone against Gose at the plate and I got a really good fastball to hit," Kinsler said. "That's the game of baseball right there."

Davis said he settled in -- fouling off six straight at one point with the count at 2-2 -- and felt an edge the further the at-bat progressed.

"I feel like the more pitches I see, the more advantage I have, being able to see the release point, able to pick it up faster. I think just feeling more comfortable in the box," he said.

The victory had no shortage of strange elements. After two walks and a throwing error by third baseman Nick Castellanos in the fifth, starting pitcher Matt Boyd surrendered a triple to Eddie Rosario. Rosario tagged up on Kurt Suzuki's extremely shallow sac fly -- barely beyond the infield -- and scored. All of a sudden, the Tigers were trailing by four runs despite having given up only a single hit.

"I felt great today," said Boyd, who gave up only one hit in six innings of work. "Honestly, I wish I had two batters back, the first two in the fifth inning. That's what it came down to. It's completely on me. That started the big inning and that's unfortunate."

Davis' at-bat helped erase that damage.

The win helped stave off mathematical elimination for the Tigers, at least for one more day. Manager Brad Ausmus, praised Davis' persistence in the "excellent" at-bat as just another example the team has not given up no matter what the standings indicate.

"I guess that says something for Raj. And we've had some other guys do that," Ausmus said of his 72-81 club. "Even though we're out of the playoff picture, they're still having at-bats like that, they're still battling. I don't know if it had any true effect on Fien, but it probably had a true effect on his teammates."