Oakland, Calif. – This is wine country. And the Tigers were going to need a splash – or more – after enduring Saturday’s torture at Oakland Coliseum.
Their bullpen disintegrated in the late innings, turning a 3-3 game into a 12-3 A’s massacre of Detroit.
Warwick Saupold gave up five runs in the sixth, Alex Wilson was socked for four more in the seventh, and that was it as the A’s threw together a 17-hit onslaught that evened the weekend series and left the Tigers with a 24-24 record heading into Sunday’s rematch.
“Just an off-day for the bullpen,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who returned to work after missing games due to the death of his mother, and his daughter’s high school graduation.
“We’ll file it away and come back tomorrow.”
The Tigers’ best moment Saturday came in the sixth, after the A’s had taken a 3-1 lead.
Miguel Cabrera got a leadoff walk, and Victor Martinez followed with a mighty two-run homer deep into the right-center field balcony to tie the game.
But that left Saturday’s game fate to Tigers relievers, which wasn’t going to be a happy event for Detroit.
Saupold hadn’t allowed a run in three previous games. But he was slapped around during his stint, even if two of the five hits in a one-third-inning cameo were ground balls. His ERA jumped from 0.00 to 9.24.
Wilson, who was last season’s bullpen savior, had a frightful experience, as well. Five hits, four runs, two-thirds of an inning.
Matt Boyd started for the Tigers only a couple of days after he had been ordered to report from Triple A Toledo as a replacement for the hobbled Jordan Zimmermann.
Boyd was fine – mostly. He had five strikeouts in the first two innings and finished his five-inning shift with seven. But he also was smacked for long, long home runs by Billy Butler and Danny Valencia.
“I wish I could have two pitches back,” said Boyd, who blamed “overthrowing” for a 28-pitch second inning and a long fifth, when the A’s scored twice to take a 3-1 lead.
“And then my best pitch is a change-up,” Boyd said, “and I can’t throw it for a strike.”
With a pitch-count at 94 after the fifth, the Tigers bullpen got involved too early, and too disastrously for Detroit’s good Saturday.
It didn’t help that Tigers batters got only six hits Saturday. Martinez had a single in addition to his homer, while Ian Kinsler – who simply won’t be shut down – added a pair of singles as his average climbed to .319.
Justin Upton and Jose Iglesias had doubles.
The Tigers have another challenge Sunday. Mike Pelfrey is scheduled to start for the Tigers. Pelfrey isn’t known for pitching terribly deep into games, which means the bullpen could again be a factor Sunday following a day of wear and tear at Oakland Coliseum.