Oakland, Calif. — Tigers’ DH Nick Castellanos was in the dugout in the bottom of the first inning Sunday having already struck out with two men on base.
He was sending his best karma to Jim Adduci, who was batting against Oakland’s Trevor Cahill with two out and the bases loaded. The Tigers had played 22 innings against the A’s Friday and Saturday, scoring just one run. And that one was unearned.
“That would have changed the psyche of the game a lot,” Castellanos said. “If we scratch across two, now we’re ahead, we know that, their starting pitcher knows that. It could be a huge momentum swing.”
Adduci struck out. To be clear, Castellanos wasn’t pointing the finger at Adduci. Castellanos had two hits Friday but was just 1-for-8 Saturday and Sunday, and his single Sunday didn’t come until Detroit was in a 4-0 hole in the eighth inning. He was looking in the mirror when he critiqued the Tigers offensive slump.
“We’ve been struggling here for a minute now, myself included,” he said.
And then it was off for the short flight to Southern California and the start of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels Monday in Anaheim. In the gathering silence of the Tigers clubhouse, the question was asked: What can be done to make sure Monday night isn’t a repeat of this weekend?
“We have to not buy into it,” Castellanos said. “We have to bounce back and have a brand new game in Anaheim. There is no real secret; it’s just putting it in the rear-view and moving forward.”
Adduci went to the plate in the first against Cahill wanting to make this at-bat no different than any other. He would have liked to have seen a fastball but given Cahill’s history, it seemed unlikely. And so it was. Foul balls on a sinker and a change-up got him in an 0-2 hole, and he eventually went down swinging at a 2-2 cutter.
“It’s a normal at-bat, I’m just trying to get a run across,” he said. “You just want to get something going. But he didn’t throw me anything straight.”
Sunday was just Adduci’s 20th game with the Tigers this year, and he’s trying to make an impression looking toward 2019. Presumably there will be more opportunities after the one that got away Sunday. Adduci did get Detroit’s only extra-base hit Sunday, a double in the fourth with two out.
“You’re trying to set it up for next year,” he said. “You’re trying to make an impression, to learn and gain as much information as you can each time you step on the field.”
Francisco Liriano allowed two fourth-inning runs in his five innings of work, but he was gone after that having already thrown 89 pitches.
In the clubhouse he was kicking himself a bit for having thrown that many pitches in a relatively short space of time. It was his first start in almost two weeks thanks to a nasty rash that left him hospitalized briefly late last month.
“I feel good again,” he said. “But I was overthrowing after the third inning and I walked a couple of guys. My fastball was missing in and sinking down and away. But my body feels great. (The rash) was weird. I was all swelled up. Hopefully it won’t happen again.”
Around the horn
The Tigers are done with the A’s for this season, and that’s got to come as a relief. Detroit went 0-7 against Oakland this year and has lost a dozen straight dating to last season. A’s and Tiger teams have been matching up for 12 decades now, and this is the first time the A’s have won 12 straight from Detroit.
… Mike Gerber, called up last week, was the Detroit leadoff hitter with JaCoby Jones unavailable. Gerber singled in the first and in the eighth, both times getting into scoring position. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he could see the rookie getting more chances at the top of the lineup. “He was up there, took some pitches and was quiet in the box,” the manager said. “He wasn’t jumping all over the place. He looked fine out there.”
… Jones reported to the clubhouse with a mild case of back stiffness, so he got Sunday off. He could have played if needed, but Gardenhire wasn’t going to send him out there when he had other options.
… Gardenhire said he’d like to see Victor Reyes play lots of winter ball somewhere. Reyes, a Rule 5 outfield pickup, has played in 62 games, but only 29 of those, including Sunday’s 0-for-3 effort, have been starts. “He’ll get better, he’ll get stronger,” the manager said. “Winter ball would be great for him.”
… The Tigers have been shut out 15 times, including twice this weekend. That’s the most in the big leagues this season and the most in a season for Detroit since they were blanked 17 times in 2003.
… Reliever Victor Alcantara, a September callup last year, was a July callup this year, and he’s pitching as if he has a long-term goals to stay with the team. He threw an easy scoreless sixth inning Sunday and hasn’t allowed a run in eight of nine games this season. He owns an 0.84 ERA and opponents are hitting .205 against him. It’s a complete reversal from September when he had an 8.59 ERA.
John Hickey is a freelance writer.
On deck: Angels
Series: Three-game series at Angel Stadium of Anaheim
First pitch: Today-Tuesday, 10:07 p.m.; Wednesday, 4:07 p.m.
TV/radio: Today-Wednesday, FSD/97.1 FM.
Probables: Today – RHP Nick Tropeano (4-6, 4.94) vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (6-9, 4.22); Tuesday – LHP Andrew Heaney (6-7, 3.75) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (7-6, 3.48); Wednesday – RHP Jamie Barria (6-7, 3.84) vs. LHP Blaine Hardy (4-3, 3.25).
Tropeano, Angels: This will be his fourth start since coming off the DL (shoulder inflammation). In the previous three, he’s been touched up for 10 runs (10 walks and 14 hits) in 17 innings, with an opponents’ OPS of .907. He beat the Tigers at Comerica Park on May 29.
Boyd, Tigers: He’s coming off a brilliant eight-inning, shutout effort against the Reds and he’s allowed just three runs in 19 innings over his last three starts. But he’s had issues on the road – 2-6, 5.49. Opponents are hitting .251 against him on the road, .192 at Comerica Park.