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Doubleheader Split: Tigers 7, Athletics 2; Athletics 5, Tigers 0

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Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game One Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

After a slightly weird All-Star Break in which the Tigers didn’t play on Sunday, they played the weirdest-scheduled thing I’ve seen in a long time with a lone daytime doubleheader all the way out in Oakland. They’ll have Friday off, then will start a short, two-game, Saturday-Sunday series with the Twins at home.

Did they let a drunk bobolink plan this?! Anyway, here’s an explanation.

We’ve got highlights.

Game 1: Tigers 7, A’s 2

Some timely two-out hitting and a great starting pitching performance let the Tigers coast to an easy victory in the opener.

The pitching matchup was listed “TBA vs. TBA” for a good long while until the fog parted and we saw confirmation that it was going to be Tarik Skubal for the Tigers and a rookie, Zach Logue, for Oakland. We all know Skubal has been very up-and-down this season, and has struggled lately with letting a big inning get away on him. Coming into today’s game, Logue had made six starts with the big club and, by far, the best of his life had come in Detroit back in May, scattering five hits across seven innings with no runs given up.

Skubal was looking good early, striking out four through the first pair of innings. The Tigers didn’t have much going until the third, when they put runners on first and second with two outs and Robbie Grossman came to the plate.

Through four innings Skubal continued to look strong, with a two-out walk in the fourth resulting in the only Oakland baserunner. He’d struck out seven in those four fine frames, which was the sort of result we got used to seeing early on this season when Skubal’s overall results were much better than what we’ve seen lately.

In the fifth, Riley Greene singled to centre with two outs, then on the next pitch Javier Báez hit a dribbler that scooted under the A’s second baseman’s glove; Greene didn’t even break stride and ended up on third. Grossman followed with a sinking liner to center that Skye Bolt dove for, but missed; it was scored a double, Greene scored, and it was a 3-0 game.

The first Oakland hit was a leadoff double by Seth Brown, a sky-high pop-up to third base in a cloudless sky that Jeimer Candelario missed. (Now, lest you think that’s an easy play, I can tell you from personal experience that, if there’s nothing in the sky to act as a reference point, it is entirely possible to lose a fly ball in a featureless sky. It becomes impossible to judge how high the thing actually is, and you get disoriented very quickly.) An Eric Haase passed ball got Brown to third, and a Stephen Piscotty sacrifice fly to left made it 3-1.

Skubal got into a bit of trouble in the sixth, with runners on first and second with two out, but a groundout to shortstop and a quick toss to second base ended the inning. He’d thrown 92 pitches to get through six innings, which ended up being the end of his day: two hits, one unearned run, two walks, nine whiffs. That’s pretty solid and I’m sure he’d take it every time. I know I would.

Candelario atoned for his previous miscue with a leadoff home run in the top of the seventh to center, pushing the lead back to three runs.

Alex Lange came on for Skubal in the seventh and, like his Oakland reliever counterpart, gave up a solo home run to the first batter he saw, Brown, to make it a 4-2 game. He then walked Piscotty, who was hitting .185 at the time, on four pitches, and a wild pitch pushed Piscotty to second. A one-out single put runners on the corners, but Lange painted the bottom of the outside corner with a curveball for a called strike three; since the curveball was working, Lange used three more to get another strikeout looking, ending the threat.

Haase worked a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth, and he was followed by Jonathan Schoop who snuck a rocket just inside the third-base bag which went all the way to the left-field corner; Haase scored easily, Schoop ended up on second, and the three-run lead was restored.

Michael Fulmer took over in the eighth, giving up a two-out single but the runner was stranded. Are we counting down the days until Angry Mike is traded before the deadline?

In the top of the ninth, the newly-recalled Zach Short walked, stole second, and scored on Greene’s single to center, adding some insurance by making it 6-2. They went on to load the bases with none out, and a Schoop sacrifice fly set the score at 7-2. Jason Foley struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 ninth, and that was the ball game.

Game 2: A’s 5, Tigers 0

Detroit’s bats took a big snooze for the second game, and all the runs were scored in the sixth as the A’s took game two for the split.

This one saw Garrett Hill, today’s 27th Man, face Frankie Montas, about a half-hour after game one ended. Coming into today Hill had made two starts with Detroit, one good and one not, but at least he went five-or-more in both of ‘em, which is what you want for a doubleheader. Montas’ 3-9 record before today shows you how pointless such records are: last year he went 13-9 (and was sixth in Cy Young voting), but between last year and this year his ERA, FIP and WHIP are all basically identical. So, just go ahead and throw that record in the trash already, sheesh.

The A’s wore their kelly-green jerseys with their white pants in the second game. For my money, that’s one of the sharpest uniform-combinations in baseball. Why do so few teams have green in their uniform? Are they afraid they’re not going to be able to see each other with the grass and all? If memory serves, the A’s only added green as a colour after they were bought by Charlie Finley and moved to Kansas City; before then they were red, white and blue in Philadelphia.

Hill got into a bit of a jam in the second inning, as he walked two straight hitters with one out as his control eluded him. He then got Dermis Garcia to strike out swinging, and a foul pop-up to the third base side, and its huge foul territory, allowed Candelario to make the long run to catch the ball as he slid into the rolled-up tarp.

Tucker Barnhart singled to start the third, and two wild pitches eventually got him to third with two outs, but Báez struck out to end the inning and keep the game scoreless. On the pitching side of things, though, Hill managed to right the ship in the third, mixing up a four-seamer, a sinker, and something that the pitch-tracker thought was a knuckle-curve. He gave up a two-out single to Ramon Laureano but nothing came of it.

Montas’ day was done after three innings; he had to cut his previous start short because of an injury, but there wasn’t anything to suggest that sort of thing today. Austin Pruitt got a generous called strike against Miguel Cabrera, as pitch #2 here. Yoiks.

Cabrera would eventually walk, but was stranded on first.

Things stayed quiet until the bottom of the sixth, when Hill’s luck finally ran out: a pair of singles led off the inning, then Seán Murphy crushed a no-doubter to straightaway center to put Oakland up 3-0. That’d be the end of Hill’s day, and it’s a bummer that’s how it had to end, frankly. Andrew Chafin took over and things didn’t go much better as the lefty had a rare rough frame, and by the time the inning ended the A’s had batted around and put up a fiver on the Tigers.

Detroit looked like it might’ve been getting something going against AJ Puk in the seventh with a pair of one-out singles, but Barnhart hit a check-swing tapper back to Puk which he turned into an inning-ending double play.

Joe Jiménez took over in the seventh as the shadows lengthened across the field, and he looked pretty good. In the eighth, José Cisnero made his season début; good to see him back. He gave up a couple of hits but kept Oakland from scoring any more runs. As you can see, the Tigers didn’t end up scoring any runs in the ninth, and that was that.

In the end, a mixed bag of a day. It would’ve been nice to pull off the sweep, but a split isn’t too bad, all things considering.

A Different Radio Partnership Today

I think I read somewhere today that this was Fister’s first time in a broadcast booth. He was alright, but I noticed that, in the post-game recap after the first game, he kept referring to the Tigers as “we,” which is kind of cute. Hey, bud, you’re callin’ this one from the booth!

As Another Colleague Noted, “Dallas Keuchel is Now Available”

This after Beau Brieske was placed on the IL retroactive to July 18 with “right forearm soreness.” That is just an astonishing list, although Turnbull was hurt last year and may well return by September. Still, that’s a ton of injuries.

Notes and Observations

  • Oakland’s stadium is now apparently called RingCentral Coliseum. There’s also a logo painted on the grass claiming there’s a “Rickey Henderson Field” there too. Whatever the thing is called, the amount of foul territory in play is just stupendous.
  • In Game 1, the A’s started Sheldon Neuse (pronounced noisy) at second, and Vimael Machín (pronounced machine) at third. I’ll let you put that one together.
  • Across the 20 rounds of the amateur draft that just ended, the Tigers selected 19 players, 11 of whom were pitchers.
  • Jayson Stark and Eno Sarris at The Athletic tried to get to the bottom of the fact that, this year, the Three True Outcomes (walks, strikeouts and home runs) are all down, at the same time, for the first time since 2017. What’s behind it? Myriad reasons, really.
  • Congrats to Will Vest and his family on the birth of their son, Bennett.
  • Between innings, my MLB TV kept incessantly showing an ad for a musical that’s apparently coming to town. Not only do I despise musicals, but it reminded me of that old SNL bit for a Robert Goulet musical, Red Ships of Spain which, to me, is pretty much a description of every musical. (Please don’t whip batteries at the stage, though.)
  • On this day in 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the first elected female head of state in the world, being sworn-in as the President of Sri Lanka. Back then the country was still called Ceylon before gaining more independence from the British crown, and of course these days the country is going through some pretty rough times. All the very best to Sri Lanka and its associated diasporas around the world.