From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Al Alburquerque reached out and snagged a sharp grounder to the mound -- then planted a little kiss on the ball before tossing it to first.The relieved reliever gave his Detroit teammates a reason to laugh in ninth inning of a tight game. Moments later, the Tigers were celebrating.Don Kelly scored the tying run on a wild pitch in the eighth, then hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth that lifted the Tigers over the Oakland Athletics 5-4 Sunday for a 2-0 lead in their AL playoff series.Detroit overcame three A's leads and seesawed to victory. It was 1-all before a wild final three innings that included a key error by Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp, two game-tying wild pitches and several momentum changes.Alburquerque kept it tied in the ninth when he got Yoenis Cespedes to hit a comebacker with men on first and third and two outs. He gave the ball a quick smooch before throwing underhand to first."I just did it," he said. "It was the emotion of the game. I wasn't trying to be a hot dog."Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick wasn't thrilled."We didn't appreciate that. I thought it was immature and not very professional," Reddick said. "You don't do that on the field. Save it for the dugout. That's all I'm going to say."Detroit will go for a sweep of the division series matchup in Game 3 on Tuesday at Oakland.Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera doubled twice for the Tigers, hit a fly ball that Crisp dropped for two runs and later singled in the ninth.It was the sixth straight postseason loss for the A's, all to Detroit. The Tigers swept Oakland in the 2006 AL championship series, winning the series on Magglio Ordonez's homer in Game 4 -- which was Detroit's last sudden-death postseason win before Sunday.Omar Infante and Cabrera hit back-to-back singles off Grant Balfour with one out in the ninth. With runners on first and third, Prince Fielder was intentionally walked, bringing up Kelly, who had stayed in the game as the designated hitter after pinch-running the previous inning."Was looking for a fastball and I got it," Kelly said. "It's a great feeling, to be able to go out there in that situation and do that."Kelly's fly to right was plenty deep enough to score Infante without a play at the plate. It was another big playoff moment for Kelly, who hit a home run last year when the Tigers beat the New York Yankees in the decisive fifth game of the division series.A favorite of manager Jim Leyland, Kelly hit .186 during the regular season but made the postseason roster as a pinch-running option who can also play any position in the field."It takes everybody to contribute and we got contributions from everybody," Leyland said.Alburquerque missed most of the season after offseason surgery on his throwing elbow. He came on to face Cespedes with the Tigers in a jam, and that one out was enough to earn him the win.And the right-hander entertained his teammates in the process with a bit of, um, comic relief."We were cracking up in the dugout," Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer said. "We were like, Did he really just kiss the ball?' ... Alburquerque does some crazy things on the mound."It was tied at 4 after both teams made their share of mistakes in the seventh and eighth. Cliff Pennington gave the A's the lead with an RBI single in the seventh, but Crisp dropped Cabrera's two-out flyball in the bottom half, allowing two runs to score.Oakland tied it in the eighth on a wild pitch by Joaquin Benoit, and Reddick followed with a solo homer to give the A's a 4-3 lead. Then it was Ryan Cook's turn to throw a tying wild pitch, allowing Kelly to score.Pennington nearly came through again for Oakland in the ninth, but his deep drive down the left-field line was just foul."We just need to win a game," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "If you start thinking about three games ahead, you lose your focus on Tuesday's game."On a drizzly day at Comerica Park, the Tigers and A's were sloppy with the game on the line.With runners on first and second and two out in the seventh, Cabrera lifted a fly to center. Crisp, charging hard, tried to make a basket catch but bobbled the ball. He nearly recovered to make a falling grab, but the ball popped out of his glove and the Tigers took a 3-2 lead."I saw it come off the heel of my glove, and I tried to grab again," Crisp said. "I even went for it barehanded, but I couldn't get it."Cespedes led off the eighth with a single and stole second and third. With one out and the infield in, Benoit threw a wild pitch to allow the tying run. The worst was still to come for the Detroit reliever, who allowed Reddick's homer to right that put Oakland ahead 4-3.Reddick had struck out in all six at-bats in the series before that.Oakland again gave up the lead immediately. The A's have taken the lead four times in this series, but on each occasion they failed to hold it through the bottom half of the inning.Doug Fister allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings for Detroit, striking out eight. Rookie Tommy Milone was impressive for the A's, allowing a run and five hits in six innings. He struck out six.Fister gave the A's trouble early with his slow, sweeping breaking ball, but Oakland hit four singles in the third. Crisp's slow roller to third turned into an infield hit when Cabrera threw wide to first. Stephen Drew struck out looking -- and had words for plate umpire Mark Wegner -- but Cespedes followed with a run-scoring single.Oakland nearly scored again on a single to right by Brandon Moss, but rookie Avisail Garcia threw Crisp out at home.The A's showed frustration with the plate umpire during Game 1, and that spilled over to Sunday. Reddick struck out looking for the third out of the third and threw his bat away immediately. Wegner took off his mask and stared at the Oakland hitter as he headed back toward the dugout, but the situation didn't escalate.Cabrera hit a one-out double in the bottom of the third -- to the same spot in left-center as his double in the first. He went to third on a single by Fielder and scored on a dribbler by Delmon Young that was too slow to be a double play.Milone retired 10 in a row, starting with Young's RBI groundout.NOTES:Balfour was charged with the loss. ... Oakland has struck out 23 times in the first two games. ... Benoit allowed 14 homers during the regular season, easily his most since 2004, when he spent some time as a starter. ... The A's are hoping LHP Brett Anderson is healthy enough to start Game 3 against Anibal Sanchez. Anderson missed the last couple weeks of the regular season because of a strained right oblique.
If Josh Norman's production on the field in 2016 matches up with his first few weeks as a Redskin, where he's churned out spectacular quote after spectacular quote, the Carolina Panthers are going to be kicking themselves. Then they'll probably kick themselves some more.
Norman delivered throughout his opening press conference with the team, and has nailed other interviews with various outlets. A recent piece he wrote for The Players' Tribune, however, is undoubtedly his best work yet. The whole thing is riveting, but here are the five coolest chunks from his work, which is titled, "Steal Your Bologna."
5. When he talks about the day he first picked up football.
Norman opens the article by revealing that, as a youngster, he'd be left out during games of basketball. Because of that, he'd be forced to get shots up by himself on "the crooked-ass rim with no net." In case you aren't aware, shooting on bent rims that don't have a trace of nylon completely sucks. Those definitely weren't the greatest days for little Norman.
Eventually, though, he found his calling. Allow him to explain.
"One day, they made a mistake. They messed up. They let me put on a football helmet. They let me get in the dirt. Now, all of a sudden, the same dudes who used to steal my [spot on the court] were hearing a very particular sound. It’s a sick sound, really. I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. It’s the crack of a football helmet obliterating some poor dude’s chest protector. Then you hear him wheezing. You see the spirit draining right out of his body."
Having your spirit drained doesn't sound like a nice experience, but it's a tremendous visual.
4. When he writes about the kinship he feels with a particular superhero.
Everyone's got a favorite superhero. The All-Pro corner is no different. But the reasoning behind his pick is what's notable.
"My favorite superhero since way back was always Batman. I always related to Bruce Wayne because he came up through the darkness, and so did I."
Spiderman would've been a solid pick for Norman considering they both have sticky hands, but the darkness idea is much more powerful.
3. When he describes his mentality.
What's your mentality in life? "Do your best?" "Never give up?" Whatever it is, prepare to feel lame when you hear what mantra Washington's pricey aquisition follows.
"From the first day I put on a football helmet I have repeated the same three words to myself every time I go out on the field: seek and destroy. Seek and destroy everything."
Sure, that may not work for a barrista at Starbucks or a dental hygienist, but it fits Norman's profession perfectly.
2. When he turns the narrative of the Draft being the proudest day of a player's life upside down.
When Norman was taken in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Panthers, was he ecstatic? Was he full of glee?
"I was pissed. Because that’s just who I am. That’s how I got here. Fourteen other cornerbacks went before me. I wrote those names down. Oh yeah, I did. Very few people believed in me, and I’ll never forget that."
1. When he gives a shoutout Odell Beckham.
Early on in his writing (and now you'll understand the title he chose), Norman discussed how, growing up, his older brothers would steal his bologna and he simply let it happen out of shyness. So, in his final paragraphs, he brings back that image as he mentions Odell Beckham, who he probably likes less than those crooked-ass rims from his childhood.
"When Odell and I went at one another last year, people got mad. Imagine that. People who watch this sport every Sunday and say they love it actually pretended to be offended. They don’t see the beauty in it. They don’t see the truth.
"But Odell and I, we know the truth. Anybody who makes it to this level knows it. The truth is that on the football field, he’s trying to steal my bologna, and I’m trying to steal his.
"See you twice a year, bro."
Friendly reminder: Only 143 days until Redskins vs. Giants.
Scot McCloughan raised a few eyebrows when he signed Vernon Davis to a free agent contract on March 31. The Redskins general manager has talked about staying away from bringing on veterans in their 30’s, believing that they often bring bad habits and attitudes from their former teams at a high price.
But he made an exception last year when he traded for 31-year-old safety Dashon Goldson. And this year he signed Davis to a one-year contract that can pay him as much as $4.5 million if he hits on all of the incentives.
There is a simple explanation for McCloughan adding these two (relative) senior citizens to his roster. He drafted both of them when he was in San Francisco. He knows that both of them are his type of “football players”.
McCloughan wanted to make sure the Davis still had the desire to play before signing him.
“I brought him in to sit down and talk with him, make sure he still had the passion, the energy to play,” McCloughan said to Mike Florio on PFT Live on Tuesday.
Evidently McCloughan thought that Davis is in the proper frame of mind because he signed him to that potentially lucrative contract. And now that the team has assembled on the field to continue offseason workouts, McCloughan says that Davis is showing he is physically ready to go as well.
“I wish you could have seen him yesterday on the practice field because Phase 2 started yesterday,” he said. “He’s the same guy. He’s explosive as all get out, he’s smiling.”
Davis’ production has taken a precipitous slide in the last two seasons. He went from a Pro Bowl 2013 season with 52 receptions for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns to a combined stat line of 64/640/2 in the past two seasons. Some of the decline can be attributed to age but he also didn’t exactly have the best quarterbacks throwing him the ball as he attempted to catch passes from Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and an aging Peyton Manning and inexperienced Brock Osweiler after he was traded to Denver.
McCloughan believes that Davis is back in his element. He graduated from Dunbar High before playing at Maryland. According to McCloughan it looks like Davis still has the athleticism that made him draft him sixth overall in 2006.
“He’s very excited. He’s a genetic freak,” said McCloughan. “He’s one of those guys who’s never been hurt. He’s 32 and when I look at when I drafted him, he’s the same guy. It’s amazing. He’s got speed and quickness still, you know what, people downplay it but he’s a good blocker, too.”
Any blocking help that Davis provides will be a bonus. He was brought aboard to team up with Jordan Reed and create nightmares for opposing defenses. If he can do that nobody will care how old he is.
We are profiling Ravens draft picks heading into the start of rookie minicamp Friday. Here are three things you need to know about fifth-round pick (146), defensive end Matt Judon of Grand Valley St.
1. Judon had 20 sacks last season, more than any player in college football at any level.
That is the main reason the Ravens drafted him -- to harass quarterbacks. Judon is an impressive athlete at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds. Size will not be a problem. Strength should not be a problem. Technique could be his biggest issue jumping to the NFL, but it’s hard to think of two better pass rushers to learn from than Ravens outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs. Judon is built more like Suggs, but both he and Dumervil have plenty of knowledge to share with Judon.
2. Don’t wonder if the jump from Grand Valley St. to the NFL will be too much for Judon.
Four other Grand Valley St. players are currently on NFL rosters -- CB Brandon Carr (Cowboys), WR Charles Johnson (Vikings), guard Tim Lelito (Saints), and OLB Dan Skuta (Jaguars).
3. Judon will have plenty of family rooting for him.
The West Bloomfield (Mich.) native has nine brothers and sisters. He will likely have some ticket requests.