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Angels 11, Tigers 9: Amazing comeback falls short

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Ian Kinsler hit a grand slam, but the Tigers' comeback story was derailed in the ninth.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels
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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Let's say you went to bed when Anibal Sanchez gave up six runs in three innings. Maybe you stuck it until Warwick Saupold allowed another three in relief.

Looking at the headline and seeing the Tigers somehow lost 11-9 (in walkoff fashion) must come as a bit of a surprise, right?

Alas, a loss is still a loss, but the journey made it a little more entertaining along the way.

Let's start with the end: After rallying back to a tie after trailing 9-2 after five innings, the ninth inning went about as well as you might expect. The Tigers bunted (??!) a couple of times and went down 1-2-3 without getting the ball out of the infield. Mark Lowe walked the first batter he saw in the bottom of the ninth and gave up a walk-off home run to the next he faced, CJ Chron.

The comeback was steady before that, guided by a five home-run performance by Detroit. J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Then the Angels loaded the bases with walks for Ian Kinsler in the seventh, and he made them pay with a grand slam about two rows deep down the left field line to make it 9-8. And Victor Martinez blasted one to right to knot it up at 9-all in the eighth.

This while Alex Wilson and Justin Wilson made it through 2-1/3 scoreless in relief for the Tigers.

When not criticizing Brad Ausmus' management of the ninth inning (did anyone outside the Tigers' dugout expect this to turn out well?), people will surely be focusing on the future of starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez instead. He again didn't give his team a chance to win. This time though it was not about Anibal Sanchez melting down the third time through the batting order. He got that out of the way the first time through this game.

Sanchez got pulled after giving up six runs on eight hits, including three home runs. By the time his day was over, Sanchez's ERA had climbed to 6.67 for the season.

Warwick Saupold looked to be the bullpen's sacrificial lamb, sent to eat innings no matter the cost after Sanchez's failure. Alas, Saupold injured his groin after just one batter in the sixth inning when trying to receive a throw from Miguel Cabrera at first base on a grounder. What would surely have been his final MLB game looks like it'll result in a DL stint instead.

Injury notes: Saupold suffered a right groin strain. He appeared to be in a lot of pain. ... Cameron Maybin left the game in the eighth inning after feeling pain in his left hand -- the left wrist was the one injured earlier in the year -- while batting in the seventh inning. He finished the at-bat after a visit by trainer Kevin Rand but was replaced in the field by Andrew Romine. Maybin said after the game the flare-up shouldn't keep him out of the lineup (via Katie Strang, ESPN)

ROARS:

Ian Kinsler -- HE HIT A GRAND SLAM! Kinsler's second hit of the game put the Tigers within a run, 9-8, after they trailed by seven earlier.

Miguel Cabrera -- A very impressive 449 foot home run in the first inning.

The Martinezes -- A two-run home run in the sixth by J.D. seemed to give the Tigers a little energy when they were down by seven. A solo shot by Victor Martinez in the eight completed the comeback and gave Detroit a 9-9 tie.

The Wilsons -- 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief gave the Tigers' offense a chance to catch up from the big deficit they faced.

HISSES:

Anibal Sanchez -- Avoided the sixth inning meltdown by being pulled after giving up six runs on eight hits (including three home runs) in three innings.

Brad Ausmus -- Left his closer on the bench in the ninth inning to save him for a great what-if. What if it didn't matter because a struggling Mark Lowe gave up a walkoff home run instead?

Mark Lowe -- Couldn't get an out in the ninth.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • The Tigers hit five home runs: Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez
  • Anibal Sanchez has now given up at least one home run in five straight starts, and allowed two home runs in back-to-back starts. Nine of the 14 home runs given up by Sanchez have occurred in his last five starts. (Hat-tip to Catherine for tweeting those.)
  • Sanchez's 14 home runs allowed for the season lead the AL (but trail Max Scherzer of the Nationals, with 15)
  • This was only his second-worst start of the season. He went 2-1/3 and gave up seven runs on April 23.
  • The Tigers have dropped nine straight games at Angels Stadium.
  • They've also lost five of their last six games.
  • With a home run, J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak in Anaheim to nine games.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:

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