The Tigers win Game 2 in dramatic fashion

908857.jpg

The Tigers win Game 2 in dramatic fashion

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.

Quick Links

Baker acknowledges Nats need to come through in clutch situations

Baker acknowledges Nats need to come through in clutch situations

Coming through in two-out situations isn’t supposed to be an easy task, but the Nationals are making it look especially difficult of late.

The most recent example of those struggles came in Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Padres, in which the Nats’ lineup couldn’t get the big knock against 23-year-old right hander Luis Perdomo, a rookie starter who came into the game sporting a 7.36 ERA.

“That’s been our nemesis,” manager Dusty Baker said. “People ask me, you know, what do we need? We need some timely, two-out base hits. Not home runs.”

Indeed, when the Nats score big, it’s usually because they powered their way to get there. They entered Friday tied for first in the National League with 132 homers through 96 games. And even against the Padres, two of Washongton's three runs on the night came via solo shots from Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy.

So the issue hasn’t been overall scoring, per se. The issue has been scoring in clutch situations without relying on the long ball. Against the Perdomo and the Padres, the Nats went 1-for-5 with two outs and runners in scoring position, including an 0-for-4 stretch after the first inning. That won’t help their season average in that category (.221), which ranked 21st in the majors prior to the game.

So it’s no mystery to Baker about what has to be fixed.

“At this stage of the game, almost two-thirds of the season gone, we gotta make some changes,” the skipper said of the Nats’ two-out approach. “We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting, and it’s getting frustrating on the guys and frustrating on fans and frustrating to us, too.”

When asked about the Nats' recent offensive woes, Bryce Harper chalked it up to the typical up-and-down nature of the long season. 

"I don't think we need to change much at all,” said Harper, who’s 6-for-20 in those situations on the year. "I think we're a great team. I think we're swinging the bats well.

“Sometimes you line out and get out. Sometimes you hit right into shifts. Sometimes you strikeout, sometimes you walk. It's part of the game.”

Perhaps it is just part of the game. But it is also hard to ignore that the Nats have gone 6-for-41 with runners in scoring position over their last five games, four of them losses. 

But Baker, ever the optimist, believes it won't take long before his team turns it around. 

“I just urge everybody, don’t panic," he said. "Just let us play and we’ll come out of this.”

Quick Links

Report details pieces Orioles could package together in trade for Upton, Jr.

Report details pieces Orioles could package together in trade for Upton, Jr.

The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly discussing a trade that would send Ubaldo Jimenez to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Melvin Upton, Jr., according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. 

The deal, Rosenthal reports, would likely also have to involve a prospect departing Baltimore for San Diego and is "not yet close" to happening.

Jimenez has struggled for Baltimore this season, going 5-9 with a 7.38 ERA. Upton, Jr. is batting .259 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs. 

MORE DEADLINE NEWS: DUQUETTE OUTLINES WHAT O'S SEEK IN STARTING PITCHER

Quick Links

Bundy gets first major league win as a starter, O's beat Indians

Bundy gets first major league win as a starter, O's beat Indians

BALTIMORE—Before Friday night’s game, Buck Showalter was asked if Dylan Bundy could remain in the starting rotation for the rest of the season and not exceed the innings limit the manager has in mind. 

Showalter said that was possible, and after watching Bundy achieve his first major league win as a starter on Friday night, he’s no doubt eager to see more out of Bundy. 

In five innings, Bundy allowed an unearned run on five hits as the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 before 39,358 at Oriole Park. 

The Orioles, who lost four straight before winning on Thursday afternoon in New York, scored their most runs in exactly two weeks, and had their first three-run inning since July 5. 

Bundy (3-2), who started for the first time on Sunday and allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings at Tampa Bay, pitched well against the Indians. 

He gave up five hits in five innings and struck out five. 

“That's a real good offensive team over there, so that makes it even more impressive. He was good. He pitched as much as threw,” Showalter said. “He felt good at the end. Started to give me that ‘I can keep going’ look.

Shortly after Showalter indicated his confidence in Bundy as a starter, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette emphasized that the team needed additional starting pitching. Even though the market was thin, perhaps the thinnest Duquette has seen, the Orioles would continue to look for reinforcements. 

An effective Bundy would be a huge help. He’s fine with being a starter the rest of the season.

“I mean, yeah, it could be, if he said so. You know, that’s not up to me. I’m just going to keep pitching whenever I’m supposed to, and that can all work itself out at the end of the year,” Bundy said. 

Help may be coming in a few days when Darren O’Day, who hasn’t pitched since June 1 due to a strained right hamstring, returns. He allowed a hit and struck out two in his rehab start at Bowie.

If the Orioles decide O’Day doesn’t need a second rehab assignment, he could return on Sunday or Monday, and that would give the bullpen a big boost. 

Bundy had just one perfect inning, the fourth, and didn’t walk a batter. 

There was one difficult inning, the second when Tyler Naquin doubled with one out. Naquin was held at third when Juan Uribe singled, but Bundy retired Abraham Almonte on a foul pop to third and Chris Gimenez on a fly to center. 

In the fifth, with Bundy having thrown 72 pitches through four, Almonte led off with a double and moved to third on a passed ball by Caleb Joseph.

Almonte tried to score on Gimenez’s grounder to short, but headed back towards third when J.J. Hardy threw home. Almonte beat the throw back to third and scored when Carlos Santana hit into a double play. It was the only run for Cleveland (56-39).  

“He was really going to pitch effectively tonight. Pitch is the key word. He knew it was going to be a challenge with Cleveland, like it will be tomorrow and the next night for anybody who faces them. But I think in this case, no. I think he was so locked in to what his job description was tonight. I think the first pitch of the game was a changeup. That kind of set the tone. Caleb obviously did a nice job with him,” Showalter said. 
 
The Orioles (55-40) got Adam Jones back after he was down for a day with back spasms. Before the game, Joey Rickard was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised ligament in his right thumb. 

Mark Trumbo hit a three-run homer in the first, his 29th, which leads the major leagues, off Trevor Bauer (7-4) in the first to take a 3-0 lead. 

Jones’ second-inning sacrifice fly and Manny Machado’s 19th home run in the third, made it 5-0.

“We came up and got a couple runners on base and Trumbo came up and did what he does best. It was good to get that out the way quick in the first inning. We have been struggling with runners in scoring position lately on the road trip so to come out here and do it right away was pretty great,” Machado said. 

Odrisamer Despaigne pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, and came within a pitch of his first major league save, but after he walked Almonte, Zach Britton came in to retire Erik Gonzalez for his 31st save. 

NOTES: Juan Uribe was hit in the head by a pitch from Despaigne in the seventh inning and suffered a bruise. … Josh Tomlin (10-2, 3.34) faces Kevin Gausman (1-7, 4.05) on Saturday.