DETROIT -- With Miguel Cabrera's 910 feet worth of home runs, Jose Valverde's ninth-inning issues and Omir Santos's walk-off sacrifice fly, Don Kelly's homer-robbing play in the fourth inning of Saturday's 4-3 Tigers win over the Yankees didn't get nearly as much credit as it deserved, manager Jim Leyland said.
"I'm glad I had a tall left fielder for that one play last night," Leyland said. "That went unnoticed -- that nobody talked about after the game. It saved a home run."
Kelly drifted back to the wall on a high fly ball from first baseman Mark Teixeira, jumped and extended his glove just over the wall to pull back what would've been a go-ahead home run. Instead, the game remained scoreless.
"When you have a chance to prevent a run, and in dramatic fashion like that, it was a lot of fun to the crowd and it really, I think, got us going a little bit," Kelly said. "Then Miggy comes up and hits a moonshot to center, and it really got us rolling."
With the Tigers struggling, questions have come up about which players might be expendable so that the team can go to the farm system and possibly find a spark. However, Leyland said those critics aren't seeing the value in a guy like Kelly.
The 6-foot-4, 32-year-old is arguably the most versatile fielder on the team. Kelly has five gloves sitting above his locker -- one each for first base, third base, middle infield, outfield and a catcher's mitt. With the Tigers' injuries, that versatility is especially important.
"Don Kelly is a real effective player for us that hasn't hit too good for us so far this year," Leyland said. "But when we get rolling, Donny Kelly fits right into the piece. I think you saw last night. He got a hit, scored a run, jumped over the fence [and] caught a ball. We won the game because [Cabrera] hit two out of sight and we pitched pretty good and a guy like Kelly made his contributions."