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Athletics 5, Tigers 4: Bullpen implodes as late lead evaporates

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It was a group effort that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Usual Suspects weren’t their usual selves, and the Detroit Tigers allowed five late runs to drop the series opener against the Oakland Athletics, 5-4. And yes, I chose that picture of John Hicks bunting in the first inning because I knew it would drive people nuts. You’re welcome.

Jordan Zimmermann made his second start back from the disabled list, threw 79 pitches and went five solid innings. His previous start, of course, was going swimmingly after four perfect innings, until it really, really, really wasn’t. So, perhaps inspired by the ‘80s hair-metal song “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” by Great White, Ron Gardenhire yanked JZ after five and turned things over to Detroit’s magnificent, deep, vaunted, feared... okay, fine, I can’t end that sentence without perishing from laughter.

Facing the Tigers at a rather odd start time (thank you, lousy fireworks) was old friend Edwin Jackson. It turns out he’s a lot of fanbases’ “old friend,” as this start with the A’s marked his 13th different team in the bigs, tying a record initially set a few years ago by another old Tiger friend, Octavio Dotel.

(I always thought it’d be fitting if Octavio stopped at eight teams, but I guess the universe had other plans.)

It was a pitchers’ duel from the outset, with the only run through six coming on a Nicholas Castellanos double in the fourth; he was skooched over to third by a Victor Martinez groundout, then John Hicks’ just-enough blooper to center brought him home.

Alex Wilson had a relatively drama-free sixth, but Louis Coleman got two whole pitches into the seventh and coughed up a solo shot to Stephen Piscotty to tie the game. Joe Jimenez inherited a 2-out, second-and-third mess that Coleman left for him, walked Matt Joyce to make things interesting, but got Jed Lowrie to fly out to center.

In an awful bit of luck in the bottom of the seventh, with one out and with the speedy Jose Iglesias on first, Leonys Martin crushed a double to right-centre, and Iglesias scored easily... whoops... nope, stay right there at third, there, buddy, it took one hop and went over the fence. Naturally, Iglesias was running at the crack of the bat, despite it being a soft ground ball by Niko Goodrum to third, Jose out 5-2. Why are the Tigers obsessed this year with doing that? Sheesh.

Anyway, the point is mostly moot, as Castellanos then went opposite-field for a three-run dinger to put Detroit up 4-1.

Martinez then struck out, but the third strike got past the catcher and he made it to first. Is it just me, or is this happening a lot lately? Like, a LOT. You see this once in a blue moon, and I think the Tigers have been involved in about three of these in the last two weeks.

Jimenez had to sit through the bottom of the seventh and come back out for the eighth, and he was simply terrible after the break. Hit batter, popout, double, sac fly, bloop single, double, and you’ve got yourself a tie game, fella. Shane Greene righted the ship by striking out Dustin Fowler, thereby closing the barn door after all the horses have already escaped.

In the top of the ninth, Jed Lowrie cued one down the line in right to put the A’s up 5-4. That’s the seventh home run Greene has served up this year, which is both puzzling and troubling.

Blake Treinen came on for the A’s in the save, and his first two pitches were classified by Gameday as “100 mph Sinker,” which seems incredibly unfair. Leonys Martin bunted his way on base, but a strikeout and a sharp comebacker ended the threat, and the game.

Poll

Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Nicholas Castellanos, 2-5, HR, 3 RBI
    (146 votes)
  • 35%
    Jordan Zimmermann, 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R
    (81 votes)
  • 1%
    Leonys Martin, 2-5, R
    (3 votes)
230 votes total Vote Now