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Athletics 12, Tigers 3: The Tigers bullpen as a house of cards

Matt Boyd made a good accounting for himself in his first start of the year. Unfortunately the middle-relievers were absolutely mauled and blew any chance of victory.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Well, things looked good for a while. Matt Boyd and Jesse Hahn proved equal to each other, but the Tigers' bullpen, despite being quite well rested, collapsed entirely in perhaps their worst performance of the season. Warwick Saupold and Alex Wilson combined to throw batting practice to the A's, and when the smoke cleared, this game was over in the seventh inning.

Matt Boyd carved up the A's on 12 pitches in the first inning, striking out the side. He made it four strikeouts in a row to start the second, and retired five straight, before a 440-foot bomb off the bat of Billy Butler made it 1-0. Marcus Semien and Josh Phegley followed with consecutive singles to put the heat on Boyd, but he responded by striking out Jake Smolinski, for his fifth strikeout of the game through two innings. He added a sixth as he cruised through the third inning.

Jesse Hahn combined heavy doses of his big curveball with mid-nineties heat, and had no trouble with the Tigers' offense until the fourth inning. Ian Kinsler singled and stole second base, but then he got too aggressive. On a passed ball that went to the backstop, Kinsler roared around third for home, and was narrowly thrown out at the plate by the catcher, Phegley.

Matt Boyd's home run issues bit him again in the fourth, as Danny Valencia led off the frame with another bomb to put the A's up 2-0. The fastball was well above the strike zone, but Valencia was able to climb the ladder and crush it out to dead center. Still, Boyd cleaned up the inning, racking up his seventh strikeout of the day.

In the fifth, the Tigers finally cashed in offensively. With Justin Upton at third after a double, and Jose Iglesias at first, Hahn threw a pitch away and then was too busy yelling at himself to cover home plate, allowing Upton to waltz home with no play. A walk to Ian Kinsler had the Tigers with two on and two-out, with J.D. Martinez at the plate. However Martinez watched a fastball through the heart of the strike zone for strike three, stranding a pair of runners.

Boyd caught a bad break in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, a shallow fly ball to Cameron Maybin disappeared in the sun, dropping in for a Jake Smolinski triple. Coco Crisp followed with an RBI single up the middle to give the A's a 3-1 lead. Boyd got Jed Lowrie to pop out to Miguel Cabrera to escape the inning with no further trouble. With his pitch count near 100, the fifth would be the end of Boyd's outing.

5 IP, 3 ER (should be two ER, but Maybin's drop was given home-cooking and scored a triple),  6 H, 7 SO. A pretty solid outing from Boyd, though his home-run tendencies in the major leagues were in evidence again.

Hahn immediately gave the run back, and more. After a lead-off walk to Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez unloaded on a fastball, crushing a towering two-run shot to right-center to tie the game 3-3. The bomb was Martinez' seventh of the year.

That was as close as the Tigers would come. Warwick Saupold and Alex Wilson combined to completely give the game away in the sixth and seventh innings. They combined to surrender nine runs, getting just three outs between them. The contact was constant and loud throughout both relievers' outings, and neither looked even remotely usable going forward.

The Tigers put in a few substitutes to rest the starters, and everyone moved on with their day. The only silver lining was a decent outing (meaning better than Pelfrey or Sanchez) from Matt Boyd. Otherwise it was an ugly afternoon in Oakland for the Tigers. The team can take the series with a win tomorrow, so they need to erase this one from memory and move on.

ROARS:

Matt Boyd: Not a great first outing from Boyd, but a solid one. The swings and misses were there. Unfortunately, so were a pair of home runs.

Victor Martinez: His two-run shot in the sixth tied the game briefly before the bullpen imploded.

Justin Upton: Drilled several balls in this one, picking up a double, a run scored, and NO STRIKEOUTS!

HISSES:

Warwick Saupold: Came on in relief of Boyd in the sixth inning and immediately blew up. Saupold surrendered five earned runs on a steady parade of hits, recording just one out.

Alex Wilson: Hit hard again. Allowed a three-run shot to bury the Tigers, and he WAS.NOT.DONE. Five hits, four earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • The Tigers are just 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position in the series so far.
  • Another day, another multi-hit game for the Ian Kinsler. This was his 20th on the young season already.
  • Cameron Maybin's 10-game hitting streak was snapped by an 0-for-4 day.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs