Arguably the best closer currently in the game was coming in to lock down a 4-1 Oakland lead. The bottom of the Tigers’ order was due up. Sean Doolittle had allowed only one run in 27.1 IP since taking over the closer’s role for Oakland. He was boasting a stingy 2.08 ERA (to go along with an equally stingy 0.98 FIP) and a monstrously good 56 K/BB ratio.
Oakland was feelin’ it:
More after the jump!
Nick Castellanos led off the ninth with a single and Alex Ávila followed with a single of his own to put the first two men on with nobody out. Eugenio Suárez, who had committed a key throwing error in the top of the eighth that kicked off a three-run inning for Oakland, struck out to bring up the much-maligned Austin Jackson.
Jackson worked a nine pitch walk to bring up Rajai Davis with the bases loaded. Rajai, not known for his hitting prowess, took a hanging 1-0 slider to the bullpen in left field for the walkoff grand slam.
Alan Trammell was the last Tiger to hit a super slam—a walkoff slam while down 3. He did it in 1988—before the term walkoff even existed.
Ten years ago, on a day in which the Tigers were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1984 World Series team, Carlos Peña hit a walkoff grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks. And, remarkably, in 1994, the Tigers did the very same thing when Lou Whitaker hit a walkoff grand slam to cap off a six-run rally in the ninth inning off the Cleveland Indians and John Boever.
The Tigers have hit one other walkoff grand slam against Oakland, which came on July 10, 1983. Lance Parrish hit the walkoff slam against Oakland’s own Jeff Jones—yes, that Jeff Jones—in the bottom of the ninth in a 3-1 game that the Tigers wound up winning 5-3.
Other things of note from tonight’s game:
• Austin Jackson dove for a ball! Jackson said he heard Torii yelling at him “Dive! Dive!” and said that got him a little pumped up.
• Avila hit a sharp single off a tough lefty in Doolittle during that key ninth inning rally.
• Castellanos stole a base off lefty starter Scott Kazmir, and the A’s weren’t even close to throwing him out. Meanwhile Rajai Davis was picked off and still made it in safely to second on a team eading 22nd stolen base.
• The Tigers came thisclose to turning an around-the-horn triple play behind Phil Coke. They settled for a rally-killing double play that kept Oakland’ to three runs scored in the eighth.
• Blaine Hardy collected his first major league win on the strength of Rajai’s grand slam. Hardy received a beer shower after the game.
• FSD lost audio for a considerable chunk of time and had to turn to studio host Mickey York and analyst Craig Monroe to fill in while they worked out the kinks.
• Kazmir left the game with an apparent injury but is fine, according to Oakland PR.
• Anibal Sánchez went 7 IP, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits, to go along with 2 strikeouts. Sánchez didn’t issue a walk. Anibal’s racked up five wins and five no decisions since his last loss on April 21st.
The Tigers send ten-game winner Rick Porcello (!!!!!) to the mound tomorrow against Brad Mills (1-0, 4.35 ERA). Game time is 7:08pm.