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Athletics 8, Tigers 6: Francisco Rodriguez predictably blows another save

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The Tigers had leads in the ninth inning of three games this weekend. They won one.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For the second day in a row, Francisco Rodriguez was the story of the game for the Detroit Tigers. For the second day in a row, it was for the wrong reasons. Rodriguez coughed up three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, gifting the Oakland Athletics an 8-6 walk-off win, their second in as many days. Ryon Healy played the hero for Oakland on Sunday, hitting a two-run walk-off homer to end the game.

The Tigers squandered a great scoring opportunity in the first inning, but took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Dixon Machado reached base on a bloop single to right, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Nick Castellanos scored Machado with a check swing double down the first base line, but was stranded when Miguel Cabrera flew out to center.

The A’s responded quickly in the bottom of the inning. Chad Pinder reached base on a throwing error by Machado, then scored when Adam Rosales’ liner landed just out of the reach of center fielder Andrew Romine for an RBI double. Rajai Davis made his former team pay with an RBI double of his own, scoring Rosales to give Oakland a 2-1 lead. Fortunately for the Tigers, Daniel Norris was able to avoid further damage by retiring Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis to end the inning. Norris’ struggles continued in the next frame, when he allowed the first four hitters to reach base safely. Yonder Alonso hit a two-run homer to extend Oakland’s lead to 4-1.

The Tigers wasted no time getting back into the game, though they did get some help from the A’s defense. After Trevor Plouffe was unable to barehand a slow roller off Machado’s bat, Romine reached base on an error by Alonso, Oakland’s second of the game. Cabrera singled home Machado to cut the lead to 4-2, then Romine scored on an RBI single by Victor Marinez following a 11-pitch at-bat. Reliever Ryan Dull was called upon to face Justin Upton, but Dull uncorked a wild pitch that scored Cabrera to tie the game.

Norris was unable to hold the score for long. He gave up a single and a walk with one out in the fifth, but nearly escaped the jam again. He struck out Yonder Alonso for the second out of the frame, but gave up an RBI single to Trevor Plouffe, ending his afternoon. The see-saw battle continued in the top of the sixth when James McCann hit a two-run homer off Dull, giving the Tigers a 6-5 lead.

The Tigers bullpen was able to hold the lead until the ninth. Shane Greene looked strong in his two innings of work, allowing just a harmless single in the seventh. Justin Wilson looked a little shakier than usual in the eighth, but still worked a scoreless frame to preserve the lead.

ROARS:

Dixon Machado: The seldom-used utility infielder made the most of a rare start, with a pair of softly-hit singles. He scored the Tigers’ first two runs.

Victor Martinez and James McCann: They only had one hit apiece, but both made them count. Martinez worked an 11-pitch at-bat to line an RBI single into left, chasing A’s starter Sonny Gray in the fifth. McCann gave the Tigers a 6-5 lead with a two-run homer in the sixth.

HISSES:

Daniel Norris: While he only walked two, Norris struggled with his command again in this outing. He did not make it out of the fifth inning, and gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits.

Francisco Rodriguez: It’s time for a change.

STATS AND REACTIONS:

  • James McCann has more home runs (6) than singles (4) this season.
  • Shane Greene’s ERA and WHIP are identical, at 1.46.
  • Francisco Rodriguez has blown four saves this season, the highest total in baseball.