Detroit — Brad Ausmus knew the question was coming and he pounced on it.
“The guy throws a no-hitter for 8⅔ innings and your first question is why didn’t I defend for Nick in right field,” he said. “That’s asinine. Stop with the negative. No one could catch that ball. It’s a bad question. Nobody catches that ball.”
Let’s back up.
Matthew Boyd took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of the Tigers 12-0 win over the White Sox Sunday. Nick Castellanos, the former starting third baseman in just his 10th start in right field, was not replaced for defensive purposes in the ninth inning.
With two outs, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hit a 2-0 change-up with a 95-mph exit velocity off the bat, over Castellanos’ head for a double. The ball skipped off the wall in right-center field.
Castellanos, playing in slightly to guard against the opposite-field blooper, didn’t take the most efficient route to the ball. He initially angled across instead of back, but the ball was well-struck and would have been an extremely difficult catch for the most experienced outfielder.
Ausmus was asked, about three minutes into his postgame news conference, if he’d considered putting in Andrew Romine, Alex Presley or Tyler Collins as a defensive replacement for Castellanos in the ninth inning, with a no-hitter on the line.
“No,” he said.
He often replaced Castellanos late in games at third base, “to win the game,” he said. "We had a 12-0 lead. I wasn’t going to defend for Nick.”
He continued: “That just shows you the negativity that comes into this room sometimes after games. You immediately look to blame or point a finger at someone because it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to work out.
“It’s a dumb question for two reasons: One, nobody could have caught that ball. And two, if the ball isn’t hit there, nobody asks the question …We should be celebrating the guy’s outing.”
It was the second inning, long before thoughts of a no-hitter began percolating, but the timing doesn’t diminish the quality of the play both shortstop Dixon Machado and first baseman Efren Navarro made in the second inning.
Avisail Garcia, who runs extremely well, hit a ground ball in the hole between short and third base. Machado flagged it down in short left field, pivoted and threw a seed to first. Navarro made a superb stretch and pick to nab Garcia by a half-step.
“When that happens, you don't think about it,” Machado said. “You just grab it and throw it. In the beginning, I thought I was going to tread too much to the left side, but Navarro did a good job to pick it up. He made it look super easy. I'm glad that he did.”
Boyd was, too.
“Navarro made a great play on the tarp, too (on a foul pop-up by Anderson in the sixth inning),” Boyd said. “(Jeimer) Candelario had a bunch of plays in the hole (at third base). Machie made a great play early in the game in the second inning. I think everyone forgets that.
“Mikie Mahtook (left field) had that hard ball hit at him, and he read it perfectly. Nick had to run a ball down in the corner … Literally, everybody played well today.”
Machado was asked about the pressure defenders feel as a no-hitter is progressing.
“It gives you extra energy, but it's not something that you're thinking about — like they might hit it to me and I'm going to miss it,” he said. “I'm just playing, having fun because he's having a good game, going really easy over the hitters.
“You just need to be ready.”
Around the horn
JaCoby Jones didn’t start the two previous games. Ausmus said he was given two days to spend with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, working through some swing issues.Jones returned to the lineup Sunday and produced a 400-foot, RBI double to center field in the fourth inning.
…The Tigers are now 1-for-6 at Comerica Park when pitchers take a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Justin Verlander has the one finished no-hitter back on May 7, 2011. But Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Armando Galarraga and now Boyd have lost theirs in the ninth.
On deck: A’s
Series: Three-game series at Comerica Park
First pitch: Monday-Tuesday – 7:10 p.m.; Wednesday – 1:10 p.m.
TV/radio: Monday-Wednesday – FSD, 97.1
Probables: Monday – RHP Jharel Cotton (8-10, 5.81) vs. RHP Buck Farmer (4-3, 6.62); Tuesday – RHP Daniel Gossett (4-9, 5.02) vs. LHP Chad Bell (0-3, 6.42); Wednesday – RHP Daniel Mengden (1-1, 4.30) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-4, 7.03).
Cotton, A’s: He’s not gone six innings in three starts this month; allowing 14 runs and 20 hits, with seven home runs, in 14 innings. Opponents are hitting .339 off him this month.
Farmer, Tigers: This would be a good time for Farmer to root out the cause of his home park blues. He’s allowed 18 runs in 14.1 innings in four home starts this season and he’s 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA at Comerica Park over his career.