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Published: 10/8/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

COMMENTARY

Game-tying wild pitches an MLB first

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Detroit Tigers' Don Kelly watches his game-winning sacrifice fly to score teammate Omar Infante during the ninth inning of Game 2 on Sunday. Detroit Tigers' Don Kelly watches his game-winning sacrifice fly to score teammate Omar Infante during the ninth inning of Game 2 on Sunday.
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DETROIT — The Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers made postseason baseball history Sunday at Comerica Park.

For the first time ever, two teams scored game-tying runs in the same inning on wild pitches.

It happened in the eighth inning of a game Detroit won 5-4 on Don Kelly’s walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth.

In the top of the eighth, Yoenis Cespedes literally manufactured a run for Oakland. He singled to right, stole both second and third bases, and scored on a wild pitch by Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit.

He did most of that damage while Josh Reddick was at the plate. After the wild pitch, Reddick immediately launched a home run to right on a 3-2 pitch from Benoit to give the A’s the lead.

Detroit tied it in its half of the inning when Kelly, in as a pinch-runner for Delmon Young, who singled to center, moved to second on a single by Jhonny Peralta, to third on a sacrifice by Andy Dirks, and crossed on a wild pitch by Ryan Cook.

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“Both teams played hard,” said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. “Both teams got big hits and did good things at the right moments. But, yeah, both teams made some mistakes that got the other team back in the game.”

MOVIN’ ON: Melvin said the A’s can’t afford to let an 0-2 deficit in the best-of-five series get them down.

“You just gotta move on,” he said. “If you let it stick in your craw then you won’t be prepared to the best of your capabilities on Tuesday. We just need to win a game. We need to go home and concentrate on Tuesday. If you start thinking three games ahead, then you lose your focus on Tuesday’s game.”

A’S STARTER: Oakland has not yet announced starting pitchers for any remaining games, but Melvin hopes to have Brett Anderson available for Game 3.

Anderson made just six starts this season, all between Aug. 21 and Sept. 19, and was 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA.

He missed the early part of the season after elbow surgery and the last couple weeks with a strained right oblique.

“Brett feels good,” Melvin said before Sunday’s 5-4 Detroit win. “I think the better he feels day to day, hour to hour, we’d like to be able to pitch him in [Game] 3. It’s mostly how he feels. We want to try to get him in a game as soon as we can. So if he feels good enough to go, he will, whether we win, lose or draw [Sunday].

“We’re probably not going to draw, though, right?”

SANCHEZ ADAPTS: The Tigers will start Anibal Sanchez in Game 3. He was 5-7 during the regular season with Detroit after being acquired in a trade July 23. During a stretch of five starts (Aug. 22-Sept. 15) he had a 1.89 ERA. On Sept. 25, Sanchez had a complete-game shutout at Kansas City.

Backup catcher Gerald Laird, who started behind the plate Sunday, said he’s expecting more of the same from Sanchez during the postseason.

“Sometimes it takes awhile for a guy to adapt to a new team and new league and get familiar with everything and feel comfortable,” Laird said. “But I knew what we were getting … and the stuff that he’s been throwing out there the last couple outings, that’s definitely the guy I thought we got.”

TUNE CHANGE: After Saturday night’s series opener, Tigers manager Jim Leyland discounted the importance of his team winning Game 1.

“You gotta win three,” he said of the best-of-five series. “I never put much emphasis on one over another.”

He sang a different tune Sunday before the start of Game 2.

“I thought [Saturday] night was a much more important game for us, really, than it was for Oakland,” Leyland said. “If we would have come out of that with a loss, that would have been really tough on us, I think, because of the psychological part about [the A’s] beating Justin Verlander.

“Had they beat Verlander I think that would have done wonders for them, so I thought that was really kind of a must-win to be honest with you.”

Now, it’s the A’s who face must-wins from here on out in the ALDS.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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