Snapshots from Oakland's slam dance on Tigers
Detroit — Some snapshots from the Tigers 9-8 loss to the Oakland Athletics Tuesday — yet another collapse by the Tigers’ pitching staff, which is not ranked last in Major League Baseball in runs allowed, ERA and WHIP for nothing.
■ Alex Wilson.
The Tigers built an 8-4 lead after six innings and with Wilson, they had one of their few established bullpen arms on the mound protecting a lead late in the game.
That’s hasn’t happened much this month, and it didn’t end well.
“I expect myself to be able to handle those situations,” he said. “I’ve done it, not only this year but the other years I’ve been here. I’ve been really consistent in the past years, but this year has had its ups and downs.”
Wilson had deftly dodged a bases-loaded bullet in the seventh inning, allowing just one run to score. But in the eighth, he gave up three straight singles and then a game-winning grand slam home run to Jed Lowrie.
“Lowrie was sitting on a cutter,” Wilson said. “I just kind of threw it right into a hitter’s wheelhouse when you’re sitting cutter, unfortunately.”
Wilson, closer Shane Greene and Blaine Hardy are the only pitchers in the Tigers bullpen with more than a year of big-league service time. Wilson takes that responsibility seriously, which is why the outing Tuesday stung.
“Now that I am an older guy and a lot of the younger guys are looking to me for answers or help, you kind of want to lead by example and not just words,” he said. “Tonight I wasn’t able to do that.”
■ Nick Castellanos.
He came within a few inches of putting the Tigers back on top in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Miguel Cabrera singled, his third hit of the game, and Castellanos doubled on a drive to fence in left-center field.
“I thought it was gone,” he said. “I hit it good. Just not good enough.”
The Tigers ended up stranding the tying run at third. A’s right-hander Chris Hatcher got Jeimer Candelario to ground to first, then he struck out James McCann on three pitches and won an eight-pitch battle, striking out Mikie Mahtook on a disputed half-swing at a 2-2 slider.
But it was another big night for Castellanos, who whacked his 24th home run, a two-run shot in the sixth inning. It extended his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest by a Tiger since Austin Jackson had a 16-gamer in 2012.
“I’m aware of it because I get asked about it and it’s on the Jumbotron every time I step into the box,” said Castellanos, who is hitting .429 during the streak with nine doubles, five home runs and 18 RBIs. “But it’s not like I am going home thinking about it.”
Castellanos has hit this offensive surge at a time when Justin Upton has been traded, Victor Martinez shut down for the season and Cabrera is struggling through the worst season of his career. It’s also coincided with his move to right field.
“I like the position I am in,” he said. “It’s always how I’ve been. I am not saying I’m the guy — not when you’ve got Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler on the team. But as somebody with more weight in the locker room — I just feel more comfortable and it’s coming easier for me.”
He said the move to the outfield has taken some pressure off him.
“I think sometimes I would get too serious at third base,” Castellanos said. “Because I’d be so locked in and try to be so perfect that it would take away my personality — which is extremely carefree.
“Now that I’m in the outfield, I guess my personality is coming out a little more.”
■ Manager Brad Ausmus.
In the eighth inning, he used Andrew Romine to pinch run for Cabrera at third base with nobody out. Had he sent Romine in when Cabrera was on first, he might’ve scored on Castellanos’ double. Hindsight wisdom, there.
Ausmus explained why he waited for Cabrera to get into scoring position.
“I did it precisely because of what happened — Cabrera’s turn to bat came up again,” he said. “I don’t want to burn Cabrera at first base. If Nick hits into a double play, then I’ve burned Cabrera.
“But if he gets into scoring position, if he’s at second and can score on a single, or if he’s at third and can score on a sacrifice fly, then I use Romine to pinch run.”
Romine, batting in Cabrera's spot, wound up making the final out with a runner at first in the ninth.
■ Alex Presley.
He came in hitting.364 in the 13 September starts and he knocked out four more hits — a double, two singles and home run.
“I’m just trying to keep things simple,” he said. “If I am up there thinking too much, it’s usually not a good thing. I’ve been able to have a clear head for most of the year, which is tough for me to do.”
His solo blast in the fifth, his second of the season, tied the game 3-3, triggered a four-run uprising and contributed to history.
Presley’s home run was the 5,693th home run hit in the major leagues this season, tying the single-season record set in 2000. Kansas City’s Alex Gordon homered later to establish a new mark.
“I was thinking about that,” he said. “I really had timely hitting on that one. It was a good time to bust one out.”
He signed the home run ball, but he expects Gordon’s homer will be the showcased ball at Cooperstown. Still, history is history.
“It’s a cool thing,” he said. “Anytime something historical happens, it’s a cool thing. Just wish we could’ve won the game in the process. But it's something I will look back on.”