Unscientific data shows that men with facial hair (Roxbury regulars aside) are more often single than not. Oakland sports one of the higher beard-to-batter ratios in the league. The A’s generated more singles in this game than a Mila Kunis appearance on amateur night. (That joke does double duty if you think about it. And the best jokes are the ones you have to think about.) Mixed metaphor hypothesis, proven. Oakland played a little game of cat & mouse with the Tigers and their fans (who are more accustom to filling the role of, well, cat) all night. Every time we got our hopes up, the A’s just as quickly batted them away, scoring in all but three innings and taking a well traveled win back to their hotel rooms.
It was only a matter of time before the once and future MVP made his mark on this game. Unfortunately, it was a matter of even less time before the Athletics poked their way back, repeatedly, putting the Tigers game on the ropes with base hit after pesky base hit to regain and extend their lead in the 6th and 7th. Leading 4-2 after four, with Cabrera yet to reach base, the seemingly inevitable (at least this year) happened. Miguel Cabrera put on his alpha dog shoes and tied the game with one fell swat of his whopping stick. An opposite field shot, eight rows deep in right, tied the game at 4 and rekindled the flames of the hometown fans. As mentioned, the 6th and 7th innings were a virtual cold shower for these same fans as the A’s scored 2 in the 6th and 1 in the 7th to go back up, 7-4.
Speaking of facial hair and singles, Anibal was just not on point tonight, needing 29 pitches and one lucky grab on a liner near his chin to get out of the first. And the offense, despite a valiant effort, couldn’t do quite enough to keep him in the black. He gave up two runs in the first (which could have easily been more) and completed only five innings of work, albeit a gutsy five where he still managed to fan six and avert a few near-disasters. The Tigers left the bases loaded twice and ten runners on base in total, illustrating that even the most potent lineups can still come up short in big moments. But they did tie it up twice for Sanchez, only to fall behind soon after, as mentioned. Alas, Miggy cannot do it all.
Oakland starter A.J. Griffin provided further proof that facial hair on blonde men is creepy looking, at best (for exhibit 1, see Smits, Rick). He also gives me a little Chris Griffin vibe for some reason. Baby face and gullible eyes. Who knows? Moving on. Griffin struck out the side in the first, yielding only a single to Torii Hunter and getting Cabrera looking on a pitch that was clearly a ball (low & inside). Meanwhile, Jackson and Prince continued to look like Meg at the plate.
Griffin actually ended up with a worse line than Sanchez on the night but left in the 6th with his chance at a win preserved, thanks to some shaky relief by Jose Alvarez and several of those aforementioned Athletics singles. He’d ultimately get the W, going 5 full with 7 hits, 4 ER, 4 K’s and giving up 2 round-trippers, both for 2 runs. Anibal’s line for the game was 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K and 1 home run, a solo shot to Tiger-Killer Coco Crisp. He would end up with a no decision, keeping his record at 11-7.
Speaking of Coco Crisp, one begins to wonder if he is genetically modified (work with me here) to grind the teeth of Tigers fans everywhere. Crisp hits 50+ points better against Detroit than his career average and seems to find an extra gear against this team. Outside of hitting his 100th career home run and 4th in the last 5 games, Crisp fell a triple short of the cycle and straight robbed Tuiasosopo of a big single in the 8th with a tremendous diving catch. Suffice it to say, we are not coo-coo for this man. (Puffs, Crisp, close enough for government work.)
All in all, this was an entertaining, if not ideal outcome for the first of a four game set against the AL Wild Card leading A’s. Everyone in the Tigers starting lineup got at least one hit and Victor Martinez continued to tear the cover off the ball while making turtles everywhere green with envy as he hit yet another deeeeep, um, single. Martinez was 4-5 with a solo HR and is hitting .350 since the All-Star break. Snack on that, non-believers. Miguel Cabrera got his 43rd home run and 130th RBI (How do you say “WOW” in Alien? He’s really not of this planet.) and Omar Infante had his first extra base hit since coming back from injury, a 2-run homer that tied it up at two in the second.
The Tigers had their chances, some of which they took. But the arms just didn’t have enough tonight and the A’s walked away a winner on a muggy singles night in Detroit.
Final score: Oakland 8, Detroit 6
Tomorrow is another day and the Tigers still have the best record in the AL. G’night and thanks for reading.