The Detroit Tigers bats remained relatively kitten-esque, with one exception, when Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run blast against the Oakland Athletics. But it was the Tigers' bullpen in long-relief that kept the team in the game. Despite late-inning antics the Tigers won 3-2 over the A's, taking the series and earning a two-game winning streak to pull within one of first place in the AL Central.
Alex Wilson and Kyle Ryan gave the Tigers a nice start to the game, pressed into duty after Alfredo Simon went on the bereavement list. Wilson went three scoreless, hitless innings to open the game, striking out one and walking just one batter in that time. Ryan added another three shutout innings, giving up just three hits and three walks, before giving up a leadoff triple on a 1-1 pitch in the seventh inning.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus pulled Ryan in favor of Al Alburquerque, who struck out two batters and allowed a sacrifice fly that scored the A's' first of two runs. Joakim Soria worked around a leadoff single and a one-out walk to strike out the final two batters, earning his 15th save of the season.
The Tigers finally got on the board in the fifth inning off A's reliever Dan Otero, but only after a strike-em-out-throw-em-out left the Tigers with two outs and no baserunners. Ian Kinsler doubled, Miguel Cabrera received an intentional walk, and Yoenis Cespedes homered to left field in his old ballpark for a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers had six hits to the A's' three, but Cespedes' home run was all they could muster against A's pitching. Cabrera was particularly quiet at the plate, finishing 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. With one out, Detroit got two runners on in the ninth, but again they couldn't find that key hit as Kinsler struck out and Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.
Yoenis Cespedes at the plate: Hit a three-run home run against his former team after Oakland walked Miguel Cabrera to get to him in the fifth inning.
Alex Wilson: Three scoreless, hitless innings after learning on the team bus today he'd be starting the game for the Tigers. He allowed just one baserunner on a walk.
The bullpen: With one exception, the Tigers' bullpen was outstanding. After Wilson, four relievers combined to throw five innings of two-run ball -- both the result of leadoff triples that later scored. Al Alburquerque was particularly sharp, striking out two in the seventh and the bullpen handed Joakim Soria a lead that the closer maintained.
Tigers baserunning: Yoenis Cespedes was thrown out at third. Anthony Gose got caught at second an inning later. (This after three CS a day earlier, but who's counting?)
Blaine Hardy: Gave up a leadoff triple (which came around to score) and a double, putting the Tigers in more trouble they could afford. Thankfully, Hardy was yanked in favor of Joba Chamberlain, who got the last out and the double never scored.
Miguel Cabrera: Finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk. Cabrera also stranded a pair of runners in the ninth, grounding out after a nine-pitch at-bat.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Dixon Machado collected his first major league hit, a single to left-center in the sixth inning.
- The Tigers did not ground into a single double play in today's game, snapping (mercifully) a streak of 16 straight games of grounding into at least one double play. The last time the Tigers didn't ground into a double play was on May 9. In that time the Tigers grounded into 23 double plays and a triple play.
- Yoenis Cespedes finished 2-for-2 with a three-run home run, giving him the sixth home run of the year and his 18th multi-hit game of the season.
- Miguel Cabrera struck out three times in the game for the first time this season, ending his 13-game hitting streak and marking just the 43rd time in his career that he's struck out thrice in a game. The last time Cabrera struck out three-or-more times was on Sept. 24, 2014, when he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Cabrera's last three-strikeout day was on August 30, 2014 in the first game of a doubleheader.
- The Tigers were caught attempting to steal a base twice on Wednesday. The two caught stealings gives the team 19 for the season, which paces MLB by two.
- Anthony Gose singled in the ninth inning, extending his hitting streak to seven games.
- Joakim Soria earned his 15th save of the season, which is tied for second-most in MLB, along with Nationals' Drew Storen. Only the Twins closer Glen Perkins has more, with 18.
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