Detroit — There’s a classic scene in “Bull Durham.”
Nuke LaLoosh: “That sucker teed of on that like he knew I was gonna throw a fastball.”
Crash Davis: “He did know.”
Davis: “I told him.”
Tigers catchers, of course, certainly weren’t giving any tips to A’s hitters in August, but the A’s sure teed off like they knew what was coming.
In four games at Comerica Park from Aug. 26-29, the A’s demoralized the Tigers starters — Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer — and the bullpen.
“They were wearing us out like they were taking batting practice,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
So much so, in fact, it left the Tigers brass openly wondering what, exactly, was up.
Were the A’s getting some help? Were the Tigers signs that easy to decipher?
Well, the thorough investigation is complete, and here’s what the Tigers found: Nothing.
And, thus, they simply tip their cap to the A’s, who that series scored 34 runs on 52 hits.
“We’re not accusing anybody,” Leyland said. “They could’ve just been hot, and presumably that’s what it was.
“We see no signs of anything.”
His statements came three days before the Tigers and A’s meet again in the American League Division Series. During that series, Detroit’s staff ERA shot up from 3.49 to 3.63.
The Tigers staff pored over tape to look for clues, like subtle sign stealing. The conclusion: The A’s, who hit .366 in the series, were on fire.
“That was a crazy series,” said Austin Jackson, who got a workout in center field. “All their pitchers were on, and all their hitters were on.
“That first inning, when Justin was pitching, it was like, ‘Man, what is going on right now?’ ”
What if the A’s were, indeed, stealing signs?
“You still gotta hit it though,” Jackson said. “It was like they had a game plan and stuck with it. Sometimes, that’s just how it is.”
Torii Hunter wouldn’t bite when asked about that series, during which the A’s put a whopping 65 men on base.
With the same wink/nod tone he uses when he insists he’s 28, he said, “I don’t remember that series. I don’t remember it at all.”
But wait a minute. Didn’t he win the fourth game on a walk-off home run?
“I remember the home run though,” he said, laughing. “I remember when we won.”
But the point is taken. That was August, in games that didn’t carry the pressure of the playoffs.
The Tigers don’t spend much time thinking about what happened more than a month ago.
“Got amnesia,” Hunter said. “You don’t dwell on the past. It’s about now.”
Catcher Alex Avila, who started two of those games, has much the same view. He said he’s spent exactly zero time thinking about that series.
“You play 162 games,” he said. “You’re going to have some bad series.”
And who knows? Maybe it’ll turn out the Tigers just got their bad series against the A’s out of the way, before the one that matters — and the one that will feature the same four Tigers starters who didn’t get past the fifth inning in that August beatdown.
“We made some bad pitches,” Leyland said. “They also hit some good pitches.
“All I know is it’s history.”