The Detroit Tigers made a statement to their top competition in the American League. Behind an offensive explosion and a clutch Justin Verlander, Detroit swept the Oakland Athletics Wednesday with a dominating 9-3 win.
For the second time this season, Oakland got off to the fastest possible start with a home run ball. Coco Crisp left the yard with his 14th career leadoff home run, greeting Verlander miserably. Brandon Moss quickly followed suit, leading to a surprising 2-0 lead before many knew what had happened.
Detroit would bounce back fast off Jesse Chavez, who despite his sparking 2.64 ERA coming in, had a 10.20 ERA against Detroit. Three singles in the first inning, including one of the RBI variety from Torii Hunter, made it 2-1. With a runner on third and two outs in the bottom of the third, Hunter then came up in another important spot, and singled home Austin Jackson to tie the game
Jackson quickly joined Hunter in the clutch two out hit department. With Andrew Romine standing on second, he ripped a single up the middle to give Detroit a 3-2 lead. Verlander would remain in control, but face trouble in the sixth, with the bases loaded. He got a lazy fly ball from Nick Punto to end the threat.
Adding to Detroit's outfield hit parade, Rajai Davis brought home two in a big sixth. Ian Kinsler plated a runner with a broken bat single, and Miguel Cabrera cleared the bases further with a two run double. By the time Jim Johnson left, it was 8-2. Detroit then added another insurance run they wouldn't need.
Brandon Moss, who was unstoppable in the midst of a four hit day, added a run singling home the similarly unstoppable Crisp to make it 9-3. Other than that, Oakland couldn't manage a comeback. Blaine Hardy and Joe Nathan finished things off in the eighth and ninth respectively, putting away the sweep.
Top Tiger: Torii Hunter. Total on the day, Hunter collected three hits and impressively, they came with two outs and plated runners. Entering the game, Hunter had slipped to a .249 batting average, but with the big day, is back up to .257. As Brad Ausmus said, it was a "vintage Torii" hitting performance. A welcome sight for the Tigers, certainly.
Bungling Bengal: None. A big day from the offense and Verlander managed to keep things on track after he started off shaky. Not much to complain about at all, especially whereas sweeping the Athletics, likely the best team in the American League, is concerned.
The Turning Point: Austin Jackson's single gives Detroit the lead. During their recent slump, the Tigers had made getting behind and failing to come back a nasty habit. Wednesday, they wasted little time clawing back into the game and retaking the lead. Jackson's key piece of hitting in the fourth with two outs bailed out Justin Verlander, who had struggled early, and allowed Detroit to exhale a bit, get comfortable and eventually tack on more runs.
Play Of The Game: Rajai Davis breaks the game open in the sixth. As part of a major sixth inning, Davis entered with runners on second and third with one out. Immediately, he lashed a single through a drawn in infield to give Detroit breathing room at 5-2. It was a major moment to kick start a big inning and allow the Tigers' pitchers to relax a bit heading into the tough and often rocky middle and late frames.
Stat Of The Game: 6, the number of total hits that came from Detroit outfielders Between J.D. Martinez, Jackson, Rajai Davis and Hunter who was the designated hitter, all Tigers' outfielders did a nice job bringing home runs with clutch pieces of hitting. The uptick in production was particularly good to see from Hunter and Jackson, who had been going through their rough patches recently. Not today, as everybody got the job done.
Quote To Note: "It could be this little mechanical tweak that made the difference." —Brad Ausmus. Hunter was impressive, ripping three singles today, and collecting two out RBI's, which may have happened due to a small adjustment he made. Before the game, Ausmus texted Hunter to let him know he would be hitting fifth, and found no objection from a man he said is "as professional as it comes."
What's Next: The Tigers welcome the struggling Tampa Bay Rays to town for a four game holiday weekend set beginning Thursday night. Max Scherzer (9-3) will take the hill against Erik Bedard (4-5).
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