The Detroit Tigers broke open a tight game when they batted around in a six run sixth inning, cruising from there to a 9-3 victory and a three-game series sweep over the Oakland Athletics. The A's entered the series having won four straight and 9-of-11, owners of the best record in baseball. They still own the MLB's best record at 51-33, but leave Detroit on a three game skid courtesy of their playoff nemesis.
Detroit completed the sweep without their cleanup man and third leading hitter in the AL, Victor Martinez. The veteran DH missed all three games with side soreness, but is expected back in the lineup tomorrow.
Justin Verlander (W, 7-7) pitched six innings to earn the victory, giving up two runs while scattering nine hits, striking out four and not allowing a walk. Verlander served up a pair of home runs in the first, then shut out the A's over the next five innings.
Detroit's bullpen held the A's in check over the remaining three innings. Al Alburquerque allowed a run on two hits in the seventh, but Blaine Hardy and Joe Nathan locked down the win by retiring the last six A's in order.
A's starter and loser Jesse Chavez (L, 6-5) pitched two batters into the Tigers' game-breaking sixth before being pulled. Chavez was ultimately charged with five runs and eight hits over five innings, striking out five and walking four. In just 1/3 of an inning and 12 pitches, struggling A's reliever Jim Johnson was rocked for four hits and four runs. Three A's relievers would shutout Detroit on one hit over the final 2 2/3 innings, but it was much too little, far too late.
Detroit equaled their offensive output in the first two games combined with 13 hits. The slumping bat of Torii Hunter was resurrected, leading the way with three hits (all with two out) and three RBI. Austin Jackson snapped out of a long skid as well with three hits, two runs scored and an RBI. Miguel Cabrera reached base three times on two walks and a two RBI double. Ian Kinsler remained hot to the touch with two hits and scoring a pair of runs.
For the A's, Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss were involved in all their scoring. Both went deep in the first, hitting solo home runs. Moss capped off the A's scoring by driving in Crisp with a seventh inning single.
The Tigers have turned their season around after surviving their nearly month long slump. Since June 6, the Tigers are playing at a .625 clip. Detroit has won 11 of their last 13, for a winning percentage of .846. At the 81 game halfway point, the Tigers are now 13 games over .500 at 47-34, .580, their best record at the midpoint since 2007. They are just two games shy of their high water mark on the season of 15 games over .500, accomplished back on May 18.
Justin Verlander: Looked to be on his way to a HISS by allowing solo home runs to Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss in a 28 pitch top of the first. But those would be the only runs Verlander allowed, recovering nicely to pitch six innings, including a stretch where seven A's went down in order from the third through fifth innings. When the game was still in doubt, Verlander pitched out of a huge sixth inning jam by holding the A's off the scoreboard despite putting runners on the corners with no one out.
Torii Hunter: Inserted in the DH slot, Hunter snapped out of a 2-for-24 funk with two out RBI singles in the first, third and sixth innings. It also says volumes about his season to this point that three base hits raised Hunter's OBP from an awful .274 to an awful .281.
Things Torii Hunter loves: 1. Hitting against Oakland 2. Hitting with 2 outs and RISP* *Against Oakland— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 2, 2014
Austin Jackson: Snapped out of an 0-for-18 skid with three hits out of the lead off spot. Scored the Tigers second run after doubling in the third, drove in the third run with a two out RBI single in the fourth and extended the game-clinching sixth inning rally with a single.
Rajai Davis: The former Athletic continued to bedevil his former team with two hits, the biggest being a two RBI single through a pulled in infield in the sixth. Davis had five hits, two runs and six RBI in the three games with the A's.
Miguel Cabrera: The A's refused to pitch to Cabrera when at all possible, walking him in the third and fifth innings. But with nowhere to put him in the sixth, Jim Johnson served up a fat fastball which Cabrera drilled into the left field corner for a two RBI double.
Blaine Hardy: Another solid relief outing from the rookie lefty, striking out two in a 1-2-3 eighth.
Hardy has held opponents to a .161/.257/.290 slashline, 0.964 WHIP. I like this kid.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 2, 2014
Joe Nathan: Tossed a lock-down ninth inning, needing just six pitches to set the A's down in order.
The Tigers just swept the team with the best record in baseball. The heck with HISSES for one day.
Victor Martinez was kept out of the lineup for a third consecutive game. He's expected to be back in the lineup tomorrow for the start of Tigers' four game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Martinez's side soreness changed Brad Ausmus' lineup plans. Miguel Cabrera has not missed a game so far this season, and Ausmus wanted to give him a day off. Martinez being on the shelf has put off any thoughts of Cabrera sitting for the time being. Replacing Martinez was Torii Hunter batting fifth, making his first start of the season as the DH. J.D. Martinez batted cleanup for a third straight game.
Light-hitting Andrew Romine had his best at-bat of the season in the fourth. He ran up Jesse Chavez's pitch count with a ten pitch at-bat which ended in a line drive single to center. The good plate appearances continued when Austin Jackson's seven pitch at-bat resulted in a two out RBI single, giving the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
STREAKS AND STATS:
Rajai Davis was caught stealing in the second inning. Despite his speed, Davis has been inefficient on the base paths as of late. In his last six steal attempts covering nine games, Davis has been thrown out four times. Meanwhile, Earl Weaver is spinning in his grave over the Tigers giving away outs when running the bases.
Despite hitting the ball hard at times (his line drive rate is 28%, 4% higher than his career average) Austin Jackson has been suffering from a major power outage. A third inning double was Jackson's first extra base hit since June 24 and only his fourth since the start of June, a stretch covering 27 games. Jackson's last home run was 36 games ago, back on May 23. That is Jackson's only home run in a stretch of 59 games.
Miguel Cabrera's sixth inning double was his 504th extra base hit as a Tiger, tying him with Willie Horton for 12th in franchise history.
Justin Verlander looks to be on his way to righting the ship once again. In a brutal seven start stretch from May 14 to June 16, Verlander's ERA was 7.83, raising his season ERA to 4.98. In his three starts since, Verlander's ERA is a very respectable 3.32, lowering his season ERA to a still un-Verlander-like 4.71. But Verlander (along with the rest of the starting rotation) is pitching well again and the Tigers are again winning games in bunches, which is no coincidence.
Ian Kinsler has at least one hit in 16 of his last 18 games, hitting .411 over the stretch.
J.D. Martinez has at least one hit in 17 of his last 20 games, hitting .373 over the stretch.
Joe Nathan pitched the ninth, retiring the A's in order. That snapped a streak of three straight games of allowing at least one run.
Detroit starting pitchers did not allow a walk in any of the three games against the A's. The last time the Tigers pulled off such a feat in a series of at least three games in length was in 2010 - April 30 - May 2 versus the Angels.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
|Commenter list||Alex Baker, AriTwice, Bent82, BigAl, ClevelandJames, Designated for Assignment, ExTeeBallPitcher, Fielder'sChoice, GWilson, Grzesio, HawkeyeEdward, JWurm, J_the_Man, JakeJustice65, JoeK5, Klesher32, MSUDersh, NCDee, Naqamel, Nonsuch Ned, RedWingedLigerFan, SanDiegoMick, ShowingBunt, Singledigit, There Can Only Be One Verlander, Tigerdog1, dominator039, forthewin234, fwgeneral, ja_zz, jgrubbs, kland83, knucklescarbone, lesmanalim, lithium, matts1022, mrsunshine, rbbaker, rea, snizo, stevenyc, subic sailor, zkello|
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|3||There Can Only Be One Verlander||73|