Tuesday night's White Sox-Tigers game might've gone into extra innings had catcher Bryan Holaday not noticed Marcus Semien was playing back at third base in the top of the ninth inning.
Holaday wound up laying down a perfectly-placed bunt down the third base line, beating it out to first base and allowing Austin Jackson to score what wound up being the game-winning run in a 4-3 Tigers win. He made the call to bunt all on his own, even though his coaches were desperately trying to tell him to do just that.
"I gave (the bunt sign) to (third base coach) Dave Clark, and Clarky tried to give him the sign, and (bench coach) Gene Lamont and I were kind of yelling at him from the bench in code to look at it," manager Brad Ausmus said. "But I don't know if he heard us, saw Clarky, or just saw it on his own and took advantage of it."
Turns out, it was the latter.
"I didn't hear them," Holaday said. "I was just focused on the third baseman, seeing what he was doing and I noticed started in and backed up, so I thought I had a good chance to lay it down."
For Holaday, a light-hitting backup catcher playing in only his 30th career game, it was a stroke of genius. White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario hadn't allowed a run in his previous four appearances and threw a scoreless eighth, too. The game-winning bunt came with two out, so anything but getting on base would've sent things to the bottom of the ninth tied at three.
"That was a really heads-up play," Tigers starter Justin Verlander said. "I made the comment that I'd be really pissed if that was me pitching. But that's heads-up baseballI. That was a fantastic job."
Detroit is now 3-2 against the White Sox this season, but the games have generally been close. The two teams split a four-game set in Detroit earlier this month, with the White Sox winning their games by a combined four runs and the Tigers by a combined five runs.
While it's only through five games, the Tigers and White Sox have each scored and allowed 23 runs against each other. And after watching the White Sox spiral to a 99-loss season in 2013, Verlander sees some new life in the White Sox this time around.
"These guys, the way they've been scoring runs, they're absolutely a contender," Verlander said.