A's 8, Tigers 6: Coco Crisp, A's take advantage of Tigers' bullpen's soft white underbelly, Miguel Cabrera hits 43rd home run

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera hit his 43rd home run, but Anibal Sanchez was not on his game, and neither was the Tigers' bullpen. The A's made the most of 12 hits and eight walks to break a 4-4 tie, while a Tigers' comeback fell short in an 8-6 loss.


Final - 8.26.2013 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Oakland Athletics 0 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 0 8 12 0
Detroit Tigers 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 1 1 6 13 0
WP: A.J. Griffin (11 - 9)
SV: Grant Balfour (33)
LP: Jose Alvarez (1 - 4)

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The Oakland Athletics exposed on of the Detroit Tigers' few weaknesses, clubbing the soft, white underbelly which is their middle relief for seven hits and four runs, breaking a 4-4 tie to pull away late, taking an 8-6 victory. The Tigers stranded six runners in scoring position over the final three innings, the A's pitching out of bases loaded jams in the seventh and eighth.

A's starter and winner A.J. Griffin (11-9) gave up his league leading 31st and 32nd home runs, but hung around long enough to get the win. Griffin pitched to one batter in the sixth, allowing four runs on seven hits.Grant Balfour allowed a ninth inning run, but was able to close out the Tigers for his 33rd save.

Tigers' starter Anibal Sanchez did not have one of his better games, giving up four runs on five hits, He also allowed only his seventh home run of the season, walking an uncharacteristic three. but Sanchez earned a no-decision. It would be Jose Alvarez (1-4) who took the loss in relief of Sanchez, giving up two runs on four hits in just 1/3 of an inning. Al Alburquerque and Jeremy Bonderman combined to allow two runs, three hits and five walks over 3 2/3 innings, allowing the A's to close the door.

"We just didn't pitch good tonight." "I just don't know what else to tell ya." -Jim Leyland, succinctly summing up the loss

The A's offense was led by Coco Crisp, who had three hits, a home run and two RBIs. Entering the game hitting .143, Daric Barton drove in two runs with a pair of hits. Alberto Callaspo added two hits and an RBI.

Miguel Cabrera clubbed his 43rd home run of the season for the Tigers. He also drove in a pair, and now leads MLB with 130 RBIs. Victor Martinez homered for one of his four hits, Omar Infante adding a two run home run.

Sure, the Tigers left the bases loaded twice, wasting some big opportunities. But the real story of the game was the A's exposing the Tigers' soft, white underbelly - their frustrating and inconsistent long and middle relief. After pitching decently in New York, tonight Alvarez was awful, channeling his inner Phil Coke. Alburquerque remains little more than a coin flip, never knowing what you're going to get from him outing to outing, or even inning to inning. Bonderman is a nice story, but allowing five base runners over two innings on two hits and three walks is not making a case for being on the playoff roster.

In the end, it was a frustrating loss. But don't forget the A's are a playoff caliber team, they showed as much tonight. Also keep in mind when October arrives, we won't be seeing the likes of Jose Alvarez pitching in the sixth inning.

One pitch in, Anibal Sanchez found himself in a jam. First pitch swinging at a fastball over the plate, Coco Crisp sent a line drive over the head of Torii Hunter, a one-hopper off the right field wall for a standup double. One out, Josh Donaldson slapped a ground ball to center to drive in Crisp, the A's up 1-0 three batters into the game.

The rally wouldn't stop there. Brandon Moss sent Donaldson to third with a hard single to right. Miguel Cabrera tried to start an around-the-horn double play on Yoenis Cespedes's ground ball. But a hustling Cespedes beat Omar Infante's throw to first, Donaldson scoring to give the A's a 2-0 advantage.

Sanchez got out of the inning on his 29th pitch, snagging in (more in self -defense) a smoked line drive off the bat of Seth Smith.

A's starter A.J. Griffin has a proclivity for giving up home runs, leading the league by serving up 30. But he was able to navigate past the Tigers' big bats, allowing a single to Hunter, otherwise striking out the side. Which included a peeved Cabrera, who was punched out on a borderline called strike three.

After a rough first inning, Sanchez set down the A's in order in the second. Meanwhile, Griffin's proclivity for the big fly returned in the bottom half of the inning.

Andy Dirks had a great Mets series (4-for-7, .571 average), which carried over into his first at bat tonight with a one out single. Two down, Infante stayed alive by fouling off an 0-2, 67 MPH off-speed pitch. Good thing, as Griffin's very next pitch was an 88 MPH meatball, which Infante yanked on a line into the bullpen. Infante's seventh home run of the season knotted things up at 2-2 (MLB.com video).

Top of three, FSD's Mario Impemba set the stage as Crisp led off the inning:

"Coco Crisp is sitting on 99 home runs, the next will be number 100."

Crisp proceeded to hit Sanchez's next pitch over the right field wall. Home run 100 for his career was number 14 on the season, the A's retaking the lead 3-2.

We saw just how banged up Cabrera is in the bottom of the third. Hunter on base with a one out walk, Cabrera lashed a hard ground ball to third. It should have been a double play, but Donaldson bobbled-dropped the ball three separate times, yet still had enough time to easily throw the gimpy Cabrera out at first. Hunter now in scoring position, Griffin broke Prince Fielder's bat, Alberto Callaspo making a nice play on the resulting slow roller to end the inning.

Top of four, Jeremy Bonderman and Jose Alvarez were warming up, as Sanchez just wasn't his normal sharp self (which was exacerbated by home plate umpire Paul Emmel's ridiculously small strike zone). With one out, he issued back-to-back walks to Smith (after being ahead in the count 1-2) and Callaspo. That would cost Sanchez a run when .174 hitting Daric Barton punched a ground ball through the left side, Smith scoring on the RBI single to make it 4-2 A's.

Down two runs with two on and two out, Sanchez finally retired Crisp, winning the appeal on a 3-2 checked swing. Replays showed it should have been ball four as Crisp did a nice job of showing up the umpires, but not getting himself tossed.

Bottom of four, the rain arrived.  But not hard enough to cool off the A's, who maintained their 4-2 lead as the wet teams trundled on into the fifth inning.

Entering the fifth at 89 pitches, Sanchez was likely in his last inning of work. Once Jed Lowrie worked a lead off walk, Sanchez then struck out the side. But it was also a 23 pitch inning, which all but shut the door on any chance Sanchez would come out for the sixth. If the Tigers were to come back, it would be up to the bullpen to hold the A's at bay.

One out in the bottom of the fifth, Austin Jackson singled. Hunter, one again showing the bunt in NOT in his repertoire, tried to lay one down for a hit. Instead, he popped it up for the second out. Then Griffin made a mistake. He pitched to Cabrera.

At first it appeared Griffin would pitch around Cabrera, especially with the count 3-1. But he hung a breaking ball on the outside part of the plate. Seemingly doing so with just his upper body, Cabrera lifted a massive fly ball to deep right center, easily clearing the scoreboard. Home run 43 and RBI's 129 and 130 on the season made it an all new ball game, knotted at 4-all.

Cabrera's big fly also took Sanchez off the hook for al loss. Alvarez was on the mound to start the sixth ensuring Sanchez would receive a no-decision.

Unfortunately, Alvarez was, to put it bluntly, not very good. The A's greeted the rookie lefty with back-to-back-to-back singles off the bats of pinch hitter Nate Freiman, Callaspo and Barton. Barton's single to center plated Freiman, retaking the lead at 5-4.

The A's gave the Tigers a free out. Cabrera picked Stephen Vogt's sacrifice bunt on the short hop, then fired to second for the first out of the inning. Vogt stayed out of the double play by narrowly beating Jose Iglesias' throw to first.

Crisp continued to kill Tigers' pitching, lining an RBI single to left to make it a 6-4 game. After facing five batters, allowing two runs and four hits, the only out a gift, Alvarez was pulled, having failed his audition for Phil Coke's job.

Called on to clean up Alvarez's mess, Al Alburquerque needed just one pitch to do so.  Lowrie bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Down 6-4, Martinez led off the bottom of the sixth with a line shot down the right field line. He missed a home run by a foot, hitting the wall at the 330' mark, and was stuck with a long, loud single instead.

Getting while the getting was good, A's manager Bob Melvin quickly pulled his starter. Griffin's night over after five plus innings, right-hander Dan Otero took over. He was out of the inning on four pitches, Dirks flying out, Infante grounding into a 4-6-3 double play.

As good as Alburquerque looks at times, he just as often comes back to bite you in the ass. Top of seven, that's just what happened. Alburquerque issued a free pass to Brandon Moss with one out, walking Freiman with two down. That would cost the Tigers a run when Callaspo ripped an RBI single to right, extending the A's lead to 7-4.

A pitcher is going to give up hits. They happen. But walks are preventable, which is what makes Alburquerque so infuriating.

In a 180 to Alburquerque, Otero was pounding the strike zone in relief for the A's, needing just six pitches, all strikes, to retire Brayan Pena and  Iglesias. Then Otero got into a huge, huge jam.

Jackson was able to work a full count before drawing a walk. After fouling off a couple of 2-2 pitches, Hunter extended the inning with a paper cut, dropping a bloop single in short center. Two outs and runners on the corners, M-V-P chants rocking Comerica with Cabrera at the plate. Otero fell behind in the count 2-0. At that point, Melvin threw up his hands and had Cabrera intentionally walked.

In deathly fear of Cabrera, Melvin had both loaded the bases and brought the winning run to the plate in Fielder. He also brought lefty Sean Doolittle out of the pen to face Fielder. The big man made a bid, sending a fly ball to deep left center, but it was swallowed up by Comerica National Park, Crisp running the ball down at the warning track.

"The Tigers threaten, but fail to score" would be a commonly used phrase for the remainder of the game.

Top of eight, Jeremy Bonderman was on the mound for the Tigers. Vogt led off with a single, and scored when Lowrie hit the ball in the same area as Fielder, but just a little further. Jackson was unable to make the catch deep left center, Lowrie's RBI double making it an 8-4 game.

Doolittle still on the mound for the A's, the Tigers got a big fly one batter too late. Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Martinez hit the Tigers' third home run of the night, a solo shot over the left field fence. Martinez's 11th home run earned everyone curly fries and pulled the Tigers within three at 8-5.

Matt Tuiasosopo pinch hit for Dirks, shooting a line drive into the gap in right center. but Crisp raced over to make a diving catch, taking possible extra bases away from Tuiasosopo.

One down, right-hander Ryan Cook took over for Doolittle. After Infante flew out, the Tigers would proceed to load the bases for the second straight inning with two out. Pena and Iglesias reached on back-to-back singles, Jackson drawing a five pitch walk.

For the second straight inning, the Tigers would leave the bases loaded. Hunter struck out swinging on three pitches, flinging his bat in disgust.

Bonderman would walk two more in the top of the ninth, but held the A's scoreless. SDtill down three runs, if the Tigers were going to make a comeback, it would have to be against A's closer Grant Balfour

Proving he's sometimes human, Cabrera bounced to second for the first out. But the never say die Tigers, well, they didn't say die. Fielder bounced a single to right. Martinez hit a looper to left center, this time around Crisp couldn't make the diving catch, the ball falling for a single. Tuiasosopo at the plate, Balfour wild pitched the runners into scoring position.

Tuiasosopo made it an 8-6 game, Fielder scoring on a ground out to third. Infate now batting, Martinez advanced to third on Balfour's second wild pitch of the inning. (Not that Vogt was doing a bang up job of blocking pitches behind the plate).

That's where the drama ended. Infante bounced out to short to end a long game.

Game over. Your final score is A's 8, Tigers 6.

To the Tigers' credit, they kept fighting back and had the lead run at the plate in the the seventh and eighth innings, and the tying run at bat in the ninth. But they couldn't get badly needed two out hits.

If you really want to point fingers, point then at the bullpen arms who are supposed to keep the Tigers in games when the starters don't pitch well. Overall, the Tigers severed up eight free passes on the night, but five were issued by the bullpen. The three long-middle relievers together gave up seven hits and four runs, along with the five walks. That's your game right there.

With the loss, the Tigers fall to 77-54, still leading the league with a .588 winning percentage. But their lead in the Central now stands at 5 1/2 games over the idle Tribe.

Game two between the A's and Tigers features left-hander Tommy Milone (9-9, 4.30) taking on Justin Verlander (12-9, 3.68). The A's optioned Milone to Triple-A on August 3, but was recalled when Bartolo Colon was placed on the 15-day DL. In his first start back in the rotation, Milone received a no-decision against the Indians, pitching 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, just one earned.  After dominating the Indians with an eight inning gem on August 6, Verlander has tailed off in his last three starts with an 0-1 record and 4.91 ERA. First pitch at Comerica Park is set for 7:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

These numbers shave been making the rounds today, showing just how rarefied the air is for Miguel Cabrera.

I think Rogo's onto something.

Anibal_medium

More shocking than Anibal Sanchez allowing four runs in five innings was one of the scores came off a very rare home run.

Another reason why Sanchez was struggling is shown in this screen shot of a fourth inning walk to Seth Smith.

Bsomqbmcqaa-vv5_medium

Umpire Paul Emmel, everybody!

Meanwhile, with the Mud Hens...

It's no surprise the Tigers moved Octavio Dotel's injury rehab to Triple-A Toledo. Games like tonight's loss shows the Tigers have yet to competently fill Dotel 's spot in the bullpen.

THREE ROARS:

Miguel Cabrera: Hit home run number 43, and was paid the ultimate in respect/ given a free pass to load to bases and bring the lead run to the plate.

Victor Martinez: Hard to believe a couple of months ago there were fans who wanted Martinez gone.With four hits, one a home run (and just missing a second) has the Tigers' DH is hitting .289 on the season.

Omar Infante: Hit a two run bomb, get a roar.

BONUS ROAR:

Austin Jackson: Had only one hit, but still reached base three times and scored a run.

FOUR HISSES:

Anibal Sanchez: Squeezed or not, Sanchez was not at all sharp.  Four runs, three walks, 112 pitches over five innings is a very uncharacteristic outing. It was an off night for one of the best pitchers in the game.

Jose Alvarez: His rocky outing, facing five batters, allowing four hits and two runs immediately after the Tigers had tied the game, made one pine for the return of Phil Coke. How about Darin Downs? For that matter, what about Drew Smyly, who hasn't pitched since Friday?

Al Alburquerque: Walks are bad, mmmkay?

Jeremy Bonderman: It looks as if Octavio Dotel may be healthy soon. Want to earn a playoff roster spot, allowing runs late in games is not how you do it.

BONUS HISSES:

Lack of clutch hitting: If there is such a thing as clutch hitting, the Tigers weren't tonight, stranding six runners in scoring position over the final three innings.

Coco Crisp: Tiger killer. Three hits, two RBI and a diving catch robbing Matt Tuiasosopo of extra bases.

Umpire Paul Emmel: What a God awful strike zone. Just ask Sanchez and Crisp.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 1,421
Total commenters 51
Commenter list AAnth, Alex Baker, Alex McHale, Allison Hagen, Arvay7, AwesomeJackson, BadCompany22, Cabbylander, Chadster, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, House by the Side of the Road, JJMcEazy, JWurm, J_the_Man, Jacob30, JerseyTigerFan, Joaquin on Sunshine, KGW, Kurt Mensching, MSUDersh, MakeItTrizzle, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, NCDee, Nonsuch Ned, NorthLeft12, Rob Rogacki, SanDiegoMick, Scherzerblueeye, SpartanHT, Thorpac, Tigerdog1, Trout Jefferson, Verlanderful, aelix, ahtrap, bobrob2004, dishnet34, dominator039, explosivo2k2, frisbeepilot, kland83, knucklescarbone, lithium, rbbaker, rodallen, sauce1977, stevenyc, swish330, tigerlover
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/26/4659878/game-131-as-at-tigers-7-08-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/26/4662020/game-131-overflow-as-at-tigers/in/4423915

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 SanDiegoMick 100
2 frisbeepilot 92
3 Verlanderful 84
4 J_the_Man 83
5 sauce1977 80
6 SpartanHT 76
7 kland83 75
8 Joaquin on Sunshine 65
9 Scherzerblueeye 59
10 Rob Rogacki 55

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
3 MSUDersh Looks to me like it's 147-151 in left to left center
3 rbbaker Hey, check it out, Miguel Cabrera's heat map
2 J_the_Man [no title]
2 Joaquin on Sunshine [no title]

GAME 130 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Miguel Cabrera made all the highlight shows with one of the longer home runs you'll ever see. But Cabrera also reached base four times, was 3-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored, taking PotG honors with 44% of the vote.

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