The Tigers win Game 2 in dramatic fashion


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.

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With the Capitals' offense in a funk, Barry Trotz tries out new lines Friday

With the Capitals' offense in a funk, Barry Trotz tries out new lines Friday

With the Capitals’ offense sputtering near the bottom of the NHL, Coach Barry Trotz has shaken up his forward lines — again — in the hopes of sparking a resurgence.

Based on reports out of Vancouver, here’s how the lines looked at practice on Friday:





A few observations...if these are, indeed, the lines Trotz rolls with Saturday night against the Canucks:

  • Ovechkin and Backstrom, together again. And for the first time this season. Trotz said recently that a reunion was possible. The continued offensive struggles seem to have expedited things.
  • Williams vaults from the third line to the first line. He's got one goal and no assists.
  • Wilson jumps from the fourth line to the second line. He’s the only full-time forward who has not recorded a point.
  • Burakovsky will have now seen at least one game on each of the top three lines, having started the season on the all-Swede second line before spending Wednesday on the top line with Ovechkin. Burakovsky has one point since tallying a pair of goals in the season opener. 
  • This is also the first time all season that Sanford and Connolly will be in the lineup at the same time. Both are still looking for their first point.
  • Winnik, who scored two goals against the Islanders, comes out for the first time all season.

Is Trotz sending a message or two? Is he simply trying to find the right mix? A little of both?

Whatever the reason, this much is clear: when a potentially potent offense musters only 14 goals in six games (and is ranked 28th entering Friday night's games) changes will be made.  

MORE CAPITALS: What's up with the Capitals' special teams?

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John Wall's conditioning yet to catch up with fast pace of regular season

John Wall's conditioning yet to catch up with fast pace of regular season

ATLANTA — A slow start for John Wall had to be in the cards. He played five preseason games with the Wizards, but had yet to play starter's minutes as he worked his way back from months of inactivity after surgeries to both knees.

"I got shots I wanted. Just missing," said Wall, who erred on his first eight shots and finished 3-for-15 but did manage to record a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists in Thursday's 114-99 loss at the Atlanta Hawks. "Those are shots I made in the preseason. The shots I took, I was just frustrated. Two or three layups I missed. A floater, I almost airballed. I think my adrenaline was rushing so much, being able to play the first game you get tired. You're not using your legs as much. I'll live with those shots."

Wall logged 30 minutes, six fewer than his average per game in 2015-16. He missed the first two exhibitions and was eased back in as his workouts increased. Coach Scott Brooks anticipated that Wall would play 30-32 minutes in the regular-season opener, and both said the point guard had trouble keeping up a frantic pace on both ends for his usual 8-10 minutes a game because of his conditioning. 

Wall still was on the court for the first eight minutes of the first quarter. He lost his footing a few times without being pushed or touched, it appeared, in the early going. 

Brooks is content he will get better because of the experience and adjustments on the offensive end. The committment Thursday, much like what Wall showed in rehabilitating since his May 5 surgeries, was there.

"He didn't shoot the ball well, but I thought he competed," Brooks said. "He had some turnovers we're going to be able to correct with better spacing. I thought for what he's been through the lasts four or five months I thought his conditioning was pretty good."

[RELATED: What went right in Wizards season opener]