SEATTLE — Detroit catcher Brayan Pena held onto Prince Fielder’s relay throw and absorbed a collision with Justin Smoak at home plate for the final out, and the Tigers outlasted the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in 14 innings Wednesday night.
Smoak singled with one out off Joaquin Benoit, and with two outs Dustin Ackley doubled into the right-field corner. Third-base coach Jeff Datz didn’t hesitate in waiving Smoak around with the potential tying run. The relay from the outfield was up the third-base line a bit, but Pena caught it in plenty of time and held onto the ball during the collision.
Detroit took the lead in the top of the 14th when Pena’s bases-loaded groundout scored pinch runner Don Kelly.
The conclusion came long after starters Felix Hernandez and Max Scherzer pitched gems in a game that included a whopping 40 strikeouts.
Drew Smyly (1-0), the seventh of eight Tigers pitchers, worked the 13th inning for the win. Benoit earned his first save of the season.
According to the Mariners, it was the second time in major league history that both teams had more than 18 strikeouts. The only other time was June 16, 2001, when the Giants and Padres both struck out 20 times in a 15-inning game.
Detroit batters tied the team record for most strikeouts in a game with 21 — five by Fielder, who was hitless in six at-bats.
Victor Martinez opened the 14th with a single on a 1-and-2 pitch from Seattle reliever Charlie Furbush. Kelly entered as a pinch runner, and Matt Tuiasosopo walked on a 3-and-2 pitch to put two on with no outs.
Furbush (0-1) was replaced by Blake Beavan, making the second relief appearance of his career. Jhonny Peralta got down a sacrifice bunt, and Seattle catcher Jesus Montero opted to go to third to try for the lead runner. Kelly beat the throw, loading the bases.
Pena, who struck out three times, hit a grounder up the middle against a drawn-in infield, and shortstop Robert Andino made a diving stop. But his only play was to first base, and Kelly scored to break the tie.
Hernandez and Scherzer almost became afterthoughts thanks to the long night, but their performances will be tough to top the rest of the season.
Both pitchers finished with 12 strikeouts. Each threw eight strong innings. And neither could get help from their offenses.
Scherzer threw 105 pitches with 75 strikes; Hernandez threw 106 with 76 strikes.