A big win.
Tigers 10, A’s 1
It went like this for the Tigers on Sunday. Score early, score often, don’t let them score. When that happens, as it did for them today, you win and win easily. The Tigers scored twice in each of the first two innings, four times in the fourth frame, and once each in the 7th and 8th, while allowing just one run in the bottom of the 4th. Sanchez struckout 8 over 7 innings and Porcello delivered two easy innings in relief to get some work in due to the upcoming off day that will allow the Tigers to skip him this time through the rotation. Austin Jackson had 4 hits including his first homerun, scored 3 runs, and drove in 3 ahead of Torii Hunter who had 3 hits of his own. Every starter except Infante had at least one hit in the big offensive effort that included 14 hits and 5 walks. The Tigers improve to 7-5 on the season after taking their third consecutive series as they slowed down the hot A’s this weekend in Oakland. They’ll head north to Seattle for a three game series starting Tuesday and will send Doug Fister to the hill against Aaron Harang.
The Moment: Hunter slides around the tag at home to score the second run of the game in the first inning.
Closer than it needed to be.
Tigers 7, A’s 3
Needing a boost after a tough 12 inning loss on Friday, the Tigers called on Justin Verlander. Verlander was only able toss six innings thanks to a long, laborious 4th, but he was effective, allowing just 1 run and striking out 6. The offense carried the day thanks in part to homeruns from Hunter, Fielder, and Peralta. The bullpen struggled again with Alburquerque, Coke, and Benoit piecing together the final nine outs while allowing two runs. For a game in which the Tigers offense put up 7 runs and sent Verlander to the hill, this one felt too close in the late innings. The Tigers’ relievers need to get a handle on their command in a hurry or we’re going to have some high antacid bills coming this summer. It certainly didn’t help that Dotel, Downs, and Smyly were unavailable due to workload concerns with the lefties and an elbow issue with Dotel, but you need to be able to trust your bullpen to hold a six run lead. With today’s win the Tigers improve to 6-5 and send Anibal Sanchez to the hill against Jarrod Parker tomorrow looking for a third straight series win.
The Moment: Torii Hunter launches a long 2-out homerun in the 3rd inning.
A’s 4, Tigers 3 (12 innings)
As the Tigers opened their first big road trip, they sent Max Scherzer to the hill to face the A’s and he gave them a typical Max Scherzer start. He didn’t have great command and his mechanics looked screwy, but he fanned 11 batters in 6 innings and only allowed 2 runs. The Tigers got their early offense from a 3-run Prince Fielder bomb and the A’s managed to tie it up by manufacturing a run in the 7th. We got bonus baseball as no one could score before the end of 9 and then Josh Donaldson delivered for the A’s with a walk off homerun in the 12th against Brayan Villarreal. You generally can’t get too upset about things like these, except for the fact that Leyland went to Villarreal before Benoit because he was saving Benoit for a save that would never come. You have to use your best relievers in games like these or it will cost you and it did tonight. After ten games, the Tigers stand at 5-5 and send Justin Verlander to the hill to face off against Brett Anderson at 4pm tomorrow.
The Moment: Josh Donaldson hooks an opposite field homerun to end the game in the 12th.
94-68, 1st in the AL West
Lost in the ALDS to the Tigers
So this is the final team-based Season in Review for 2012 and normally I recited the WARs of the top players and talk about the club’s big story lines. This one will be different, because it deserves it. If you want to check out the stat leaders for the 2012 A’s, here is the link.
When 2012 started, everyone had Oakland pegged as a cellar dweller. Everyone. Me too. When August started, we all agreed they were playing better and we should have been nicer to them. Fair?
Then everything went bonkers. Absolutely bonkers. The made up 13 games on Texas and caught them on, you guessed it, the final day of the season. The final day of the season.
This would be an appropriate time to hear the radio announcer from Moneyball say “WHAT IS HAPPENING IN OAKLAND?!”
What was happening in Oakland was that the geniuses out there got scrap heap platoon split guys and threw them in a blender. Then they got a bunch of young pitchers and told them to pitch well. Lather, rinse, repeat. Pray.
And it worked. Lots of people made the Orioles the Cinderella story of 2012, but the Oakland A’s were the ones to talk about. This was the story of baseball in 2012. There was Mike Trout and perfect games and lots of great stuff going on, but gosh darn it, the Oakland A’s came from nowhere and won the division on the final day of the season.
That was magical.
Tied with Texas going into the final day, the winner was going to real playoffs and the loser was going to a coin flip. I remember watching the final inning on my phone while my wife drove me home from a night class. Watching those guys celebrate winning that division was what sports are all about.
No one saw this coming. How much fun was that?
2012 Grade: A
Early 2013 Projection: 87-75