Gardenhire ejected, Tigers' losing streak hits 8

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
John Hicks of the Detroit Tigers falls to the ground after fouling a ball off of his foot during the sixth inning Wednesday night.

Detroit – Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire wasn’t in the mood.

His team was grinding through a seven-game losing streak. His pitching coach and friend Chris Bosio was fired earlier in the day for comments he made to a club employee that were deemed insensitive and in violation of his contract.

He’d been bailing water out of this leaking boat all day.

So when plate umpire Lance Barksdale gave a couple of 50-50 calls to pitcher Chris Bassitt in the third inning, after he’d walked the bases loaded in a scoreless game – well, it was the last straw.

Gardenhire vented, especially after Niko Goodrum struck out to end the inning, and Barksdale ejected him before he even left the dugout.

It was Gardenhire’s third ejection this season and he wasn't around to see the Athletics hand his team its eighth straight loss, 3-0.

BOX SCORE:A's 3, Tigers 0

"When you are facing a team that's on a run like the A's are, you get very few opportunities to put a run on the board," said bench coach Steve Liddle, who took over the managerial duties. "In that situation, we had a chance to put a run on the board and Ron saw a couple of things he didn't like and that led to me being out here talking to you."

The Tigers managed three hits all game and wasted a strong effort from starter Mike Fiers, who gave up only a run in seven innings. But Liddle said the Bosio firing played no role in the Tigers' lethargy Wednesday.

"I don't know of any drama that would've affected our game today," Liddle said. "They pitched really well and that was what happened."

MORE: The Detroit News' 2018 Detroit Tigers midseason grades

Bassitt, a Toledo-area native called up from Triple-A Wednesday, limited the Tigers to two hits over six innings.

"His sinker had a lot of movement," said Tigers catcher Grayson Greiner. "He got us to hit a lot of balls on the ground. We weren't able to square many balls up."

This wasn't the first time Bassitt did this at Comerica Park. Back in 2014 when he played for the White Sox, he blanked the Tigers over 7.1 innings.

"They pitch pretty good," Liddle said. "They don't throw too many balls down the middle of the plate. What's the old saying: Good pitching beats good hitting any day of the week. 

"And with this team, if you don't get to their starter, then you face guys in the bullpen throwing 98-99 mph with movement."

HENNING: Bosio's artistry as coach clashed with words Tigers couldn't abide

Yusmeiro Petit pitched scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth and Lou Trivino closed it out with a clean ninth. 

Fiers, with a lot of defensive help, did his part. Allowing only the run and lasting a season-high tying seven innings -- he was the first Tigers starter in six games to go beyond the fifth inning.

"He did exactly what we needed him to do," Liddle said. "Our bullpen has been taxed and we are in a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. We needed Mike to do exactly what he did."

The A’s got to him in the fourth inning. A lead-off single by Matt Joyce and an RBI double by Jed Lowrie broke the scoreless tie. Lowrie has done severe damage in this series. He went 4 for 4 with two RBIs on Tuesday.

"These guys playing defense behind me allowed me to go seven innings," Fiers said. "It says one run but it could've been a lot worse. Leo (Martin) and Candy (third baseman Jeimer Candelario), everybody chipped in and kept it close.

"I just tried to keep the ball in the yard, and JaCoby (Jones) robbed them of a home run."

Tigers center fielder Leonys Martin bailed him out in the sixth inning. With a runner on first and two outs, Greiner dropped a foul pop up by Stephen Piscotty. Piscotty then whacked a ball 417 feet to center field.

Martin went back and caught it, covering 109 feet in six seconds (Statcast).

He made an almost identical catch on Chad Pinder leading off the seventh. It was 829 feet of fly ball outs that Martin ran down in two batters.

"Fiers got them to hit it to the big part of the park and Leo ran them down," Liddle said.

Left fielder Jones stole the home run, a two-run home run at that, from Matt Olson in the second inning with a perfectly-timed leap at the fence.

"My foot got stuck in the fence, too, or I would've gotten up higher," Jones said. "I just turned my back, took off running to the wall and then found the ball."

The A's broke the game open in the top of the ninth off reliever Alex Wilson. He gave up back-to-back RBI doubles to Josh Phegley and Dustin Fowler. 

Gardenhire lasted only three innings, but he saw the only real offensive threat the Tigers had. No runner reached second base after the third inning.

"Just keep fighting," Greiner said. "We're playing as hard as we can. Everybody in this clubhouse is working hard and we all have the same goal to win as many games as possible.

"Obviously we're on a skid right now. But the only way to get out of it is to keep working hard and stay together."