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Tigers 5, Athletics 4: Young hitters come up big to break the A’s spell

Stellar relief work set several young Tigers up to shine on Friday night.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A “home” game in Oakland, the evening’s regularly scheduled festivities, and eventually an extra innings victory treated Detroit Tigers fans to a strange kind of baseball double-dip in Oakland on Friday night.

At long last, in a result nearly four months in the making, the Tigers dropped the finale of their spring home series with the Oakland Athletics by a 7-3 mark on Friday evening. Play was suspended on May 19th due to heavy rain at Comerica Park. As a result, the continuation of this game was considered a “home” game for the Tigers despite taking place at Oakland Coliseum.

Already holding a 5-3 lead, the A’s added on in the top of the ninth, as Chad Pinder launched a two-run home off of David McKay. The Tigers would fail to recover after this as the A’s slammed the door in the bottom half of the ninth inning.

As a result, Mike Fiers, who started the game originally back in May, earned his 12th straight winning decision, giving him the second longest streak of its kind in A’s franchise history.

Other oddities

Despite hitting his ninth inning blast at the Coliseum, Pinder’s home run is officially credited as happening at Comerica Park.

Jordy Mercer, despite two plate appearances, registered only one official at-bat, as his first AB was finishing Josh Harrison’s AB from the initial game. Thus, Mercer’s strikeout counted toward Harrison’s statline rather than his own.

With their victory now official, the A’s winning streak that was snapped on May 27th officially extended to 11 games, more than three months after the streak ended.

And, with a “pace of play” joke being some low-hanging fruit for one final joke, the A’s Twitter team took advantage .

And now...back to your regularly scheduled program

The Tigers’ luck took a turn for the better during the evening’s regularly scheduled game, with some clutch hitting giving them the 5-4 edge over the A’s in extra innings.

After threatening in the first inning only to be quashed at the hands of an outfield assist from Victor Reyes in center field, the A’s jumped all over Spencer Turnbull in the second, with a bases-loaded double by Josh Phegley, a bases-loaded walk to Matt Chapman, and a fielder’s choice resulting in four Oakland runs and an early exit for the Tigers’ starter, who lasted just 1 ⅓ innings and 56 pitches. Four hits and three walks saw him charged with four runs. He and manager Ron Gardenhire sat together for a chat in the dugout when it was all over.

Sweet relief

After Turnbull’s rough outing, the Tigers middle relief corps could have easily folded under the pressure and turned what was already a bad situation into one that was much worse. Instead they stepped up to dominate the A’s for the final nine innings.

Nick Ramirez stepped to get the final out of the second inning and subsequently proved effective over 2 more innings of no-hit work, striking out three and walking one batter. Tyler Alexander would take over after Ramirez, allowing just one hit striking out five batters over threeinnings of work, including sending down the A’s in order twice. Buck Farmer, Jose Cisnero, and John Schreiber all managed to work cleanly through their innings. The pitching staff punched out 15 batters in a very impressive performance.

Offense strikes late

The Tigers’ offense would lay dormant until the seventh inning, when Christin Stewart cut the A’s lead in half with one swing, launching a two-run home run off of A’s starter Homer Bailey to make it 4-2. They would further threaten in the inning, but would ultimately end up stranding two runners. The breakthrough did knock Bailey from the game after he’d smothered the Tigers’ lineup for six innings.

They got to work against the bullpen in the eighth. Miguel Cabrera scorched a two-out single and Christin Stewart followed with a double down the right field line to put two runners in scoring position. Jeimer Candelario was then hit on his foot by a breaking ball to load the bases. That left it up to Dawel Lugo, who spanked a two-run single to tie the game 4-4.

Buck Farmer and Jose Cisnero handled the eighth and ninth innings to send things to extras, while Daniel Stumpf and John Schreiber split the tenth.

Dawel Lugo led off the 11th inning with a single against reliever Paul Blackburn, and then advanced to second on a textbook sacrifice bunt from Travis Demeritte. Grayson Greiner flew out deep to left, putting things into hands of the Tigers scuffling rookie shortstop. Willi Castro laced a two-out double into the right field corner to plate Lugo and give the Tigers a 5-4 advantage.

Joe Jimenez, despite a leadoff single, would slam the door convincingly in the bottom half of the inning to snap the Tigers’ 16-game losing streak to the A’s.

On deck

The Tigers continue their series with the A’s on Saturday night at the Coliseum, as Jordan Zimmermann looks to build off of a couple of strong starts against Oakland’s Chris Bassitt. First pitch is slated for 9:07 p.m. ET.