Tame Tigers feel title hopes slipping away


Tame Tigers feel title hopes slipping away


DETROIT -- Prior to the game, Miguel Cabrera shared a table with Hank Aaron and commissioner Bud Selig. With a horde of hundreds of media members crowded around, Aaron, unquestionably one of the greatest ever to step into a batter's box, was effusive in his praise of Cabrera. As Aaron named the Tigers' third baseman the 2012 American League Hank Aaron Award winner for outstanding offensive performance, he pointed out that Cabrera did something that he himself was never able to do -- win the Triple Crown. "You did it, and you did it with poise, and you did it with grace," Aaron said. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson has won a Triple Crown. He was there too, and he handed baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967 a real crown, one befitting a king. Yet, hours after being heaped with praise, awards, and even bejeweled headgear, Cabrera could have cost himself a ring and a trophy. Then he ducked out unceremoniously by blowing off the media after a 2-0 loss to San Francisco in Game 3 of the World Series.RECAP: Giants claim 3-0 World Series lead
The Tigers have only scored one run against Giants starting pitchers in this series. They finally had a real chance to do some damage in the fifth inning. Down 2-0 with two outs, Cabrera stepped to the plate with the bases loaded against Ryan Vogelsong. With one swing of the bat he could have changed the game, and possibly the series. Instead, he fouled a two-seam fastball down the right field line. Then popped up a four-seam fastball to end the inning. As the ball landed safely in the shortstop's glove, Cabrera looked down in disgust and punched his helmet. At that moment Vogelsong was king of the hill.
"Obviously we're not going to talk about one atbat taking away from how great Miguel Cabrera is," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We had other opportunities, we didn't get it done." He's right. The blame doesn't fall solely on Cabrera's shoulders. The Tigers had other chances. Vogelsong got Prince Fielder to ground into a inning-ending double play in the first, and got Quintin Berry to do the same in the third. Berry also struck out swinging with one out and the bases loaded before Cabrera came to the plate. "We know that it's crutch time, and it's a time that everyone wants to get the job done," Berry said. "We can't afford to fall any further behind. Everyone wants to come through we've been working so hard and everyone is pulling for one another."As journeyman pitcher Vogelsong hand delivered the Giants a 3-0 series lead, the Tigers were again left tipping their caps to San Francisco's starting pitching. They have successfully kept the Tigers from taking a lead all series long. San Francisco is now 9-1 when scoring first in this postseason and hasn't trailed in a game in their last 54 innings. "Well, obviously I thought we had Ryan on the ropes a couple times tonight," Leyland said."We couldn't get the killer hit or the killer blow."What the Giants pitchers are doing is downright historical. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team won the first three games of a World Series with starters allowing no more than one run was the 1937 Yankees. In two of those games the Giants brought a two-time Cy Young out of the bullpen in Tim Lincecum. It certainly looks and feels like an unbeatable combination at this point. "They've still got to throw the ball over the plate," Delmon Young said. "We're not seeing any new gyro pitches or anything. They are throwing the typical sinker, slider, change-up, curveball. It's just that they're hitting the glove and when we do get a pitch to drive we seem to miss it or get a leather-finder."No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the World Series. Only one team in 32 chances has come back from such a deficit in a best of seven series -- the 2004 Red Sox.
Reality is starting to sink in for the Tigers players. "Everyone knows that we are kind of letting this one slip away," Berry said. "Guys are kind of down on themselves because we are used to playing way better than this. "We've worked so hard to be better than this, but things aren't going well. You can see it in everybody's faces." The Giants are speeding toward their second San Francisco championship like a cable car down California Street with no breaks and a crazy conductor shoving the lever to full throttle. The Tigers, well, they aren't going anywhere. They look like their wheels have come off. Maybe an emotional raw-raw, spit-flying-from-the-mouth, eyes-bulging pep talk will get the team headed in the right direction. "Well, you don't really have to tell them anything," Leyland said."They can count."Maybe not. "They're big guys, they know what the situation is, and they know we have to come out tomorrow and obviously win a game," Leyland explained. Because if they don't, the Giants will be the 108th World Series champions.

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

OAKLAND — The A’s officially welcomed John Axford back into their bullpen fold Sunday, and they got some encouraging news about another reliever.

Sean Doolittle was expected to only throw a flat-ground session before the series finale against Boston, but he wound up throwing 15 pitches off the mound as well. That’s the first time Doolittle has thrown from the mound since joining the disabled list May 3 with a strained left shoulder. Next up is a 25-pitch session off the mound Wednesday.

The early indications are that Doolittle’s current shoulder woes aren’t as severe as the ailments that sidelined him for major portions of the past two seasons.

Axford was reinstated from the 10-day DL Saturday for his own shoulder strain, but his season debut came Sunday, when he handled the eighth inning and allowed one run. He was sidelined during the season-opening series against the Angels when he hurt his shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.


All indications are that first baseman Yonder Alonso will be available to return to the lineup Tuesday for the opener of a two-game interleague series against the Miami Marlins. A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday’s game that he considered Alonso as potentially being available off the bench. Given the A’s are off Monday, it’s reasonable to assume Alonso will be ready Tuesday when the Marlins start right-hander Jose Urena on the mound.


The A’s are plenty familiar with Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from his days with division rival Texas. But Moreland continues to do damage against Oakland even though he’s out of the AL West. Moreland’s two-run homer in the sixth off Andrew Triggs marked his third homer of the four-game series, and his 19th homer in 80 career games against the A’s. That’s his most homers against any major league club.


The run Axford allowed in the eighth snapped a streak of 27 scoreless innings at home by the A’s bullpen. Josh Smith allowed five runs in the ninth.

A's denied sweep of Red Sox but still come away feeling good

A's denied sweep of Red Sox but still come away feeling good

OAKLAND — The A’s opted for the big-picture takeaway from their four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.

They won three of four from a team expected to be a major player for an American League postseason berth, though the weekend’s final chapter didn’t play out as planned.

Oakland surrendered 15 hits and committed three errors in a 12-3 drubbing by the Red Sox that prevented the A’s first four-game home sweep of Boston in 85 years.

If anything, Sunday’s rout proved how an aggressive base running team like Boston can exploit the A’s weaknesses when they play their ‘Mr. Hyde’ version of defense. The Sox stole four bases and gladly took an extra 90 feet whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The first three games of this series featured some nice defensive moments for the A’s, but Sunday they reverted to some bad habits, pushing their major league-high error total to 42.

“It gets you off to a slow start, and there’s a psychology to not playing good defense,” manager Bob Melvin said. “… It costs you when you don’t play good defense. It kind of permeates in the dugout and you know you’ve got some work to do offensively off a pretty tough pitcher.”

Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1), who carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in a September game at the Coliseum, went eight innings Sunday and held the A’s to three runs, striking out eight.

Still, as the A’s broke for a rare day off in the middle of a homestand, Melvin wanted to make sure he delivered a message to his team:

“It was a good series,” he said. “Enjoy the off-day. Coming in here, if you say give us 3 out of 4 (against) them, you’ll take it. Granted, once you win three games you wanna get greedy and win the last game.”

Andrew Triggs (5-4) didn’t have his sharpest outing, allowing five earned runs and three walks over 5 1/3 innings, but he sure wasn’t helped in the field. The tone was set in the first, when Dustin Pedroia blooped a single to right field and Mark Canha’s throw back to the infield was wide of everybody. That allowed Mookie Betts to score all the way from first. In the fifth, Betts was running on the pitch, from first base, and motored all the way around to score on Pedroia’s perfectly executed hit-and-run.

That was the inning that Triggs said he regretted after the game. Chad Pinder’s two-run homer in the fourth had given the A’s a 3-2 lead, only to have Boston come right back the next inning and jump back ahead.

“It was a really good series,” Triggs said. “I’m just frustrated that I wasn’t able to put an exclamation point on it.”

The last time the A’s completed a four-game home series sweep of Boston came exactly 85 years ago Sunday. That was in 1932 — the year Babe Ruth “called his shot” against the Cubs in the World Series — when the A’s still played their home games at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park.