Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez tosses the ball against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT — Coco Crisp and Daric Barton each drove in two runs, and the Oakland Athletics beat Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers 8-6 on Monday night.
Cabrera hit his 43rd homer, bolstering his pursuit of another Triple Crown, but Barton had a tiebreaking RBI single in Oakland's two-run sixth inning. Crisp also had a solo homer during his three-hit performance.
A.J. Griffin (11-9) earned his first win since July 29 despite allowing four runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. The right-hander was 0-2 with a 3.47 ERA in his previous four starts.
Omar Infante and Victor Martinez also homered for the AL Central-leading Tigers, who had won three in a row. Martinez went 4 for 5 and Torii Hunter had two hits.
Cabrera went deep in the fifth, sending a 3-1 pitch from Griffin over the wall in right for a two-run shot that tied it at 4. He leads the AL with a .359 batting average and 130 RBIs, but he trailed Baltimore slugger Chris Davis for the home run lead by three.
Oakland responded in the sixth, jumping all over reliever Jose Alvarez (1-4). Barton, who was called up from Triple-A Sacramento earlier in the day, had the last of three consecutive singles to open the inning, driving in Nate Freiman. Crisp added an RBI single.
Alberto Callaspo added a run-scoring single against Al Alburquerque in the seventh and Jed Lowrie's RBI double in the eighth made it 8-4.
Martinez connected against Sean Doolittle in the eighth, making it 8-5 with a leadoff drive for his 11th homer. After a flyout, Doolittle was replaced by Ryan Cook, who loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk. But Cook got out of the jam by striking out Hunter on three pitches.
Grant Balfour allowed an unearned run in the ninth on Matt Tuiasosopo's grounder before finishing for his 33rd save.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin made an unusual decision after Dan Otero threw two balls to Cabrera with runners on the corners and two out in the seventh. Melvin had Otero finish off an intentional walk, putting the tying run on base, and Doolittle got Prince Fielder to fly out to center to end the threat.
Anibal Sanchez got the start for the Tigers and allowed four runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three.
Tigers’ starters have dodged injuries
Before batting practice Monday, word circulated among Tigers coaches that a starting pitcher had been sidelined with an arm injury.
As usual, the news arrived from another city via text and television. It didn’t come because a Tigers pitcher visited a doctor because his arm hurt.
The bad news Monday was that Mets prize right-hander Matt Harvey, who gave up 13 hits to the Tigers on Saturday, has a partial tear in his right elbow.
On Sunday, Rick Porcello won his 10th game and gave the Tigers a five-man rotation in which each member has at least 10 wins. That isn’t just an achievement of pitching. It’s an achievement of health.
Harvey’s injury doesn’t mean the Mets don’t make pitching health a priority. It just means the Tigers again are conquering en masse the treacherous task of pitching endurance.
“The guys have done a great job of taking care of themselves, to have the wherewithal to know what they need to do to be there for the long haul,” Jones said of the five starters. “Javair [Gillett, the strength and conditioning coordinator] does a great job in between starts with them. He has a program set up for them. They adhere to the program.
“Obviously, it’s working, because we’ve been fortunate where we haven’t missed a lot of starts, and the guys are still pretty strong right now even though we’re deep into the season.”
Anibal Sanchez is the only starter who has missed any starts this season. His midseason absence—five starts’ worth because of shoulder trouble—appears to have been prudent; Sanchez led the AL in ERA entering his start Monday night against the A’s.
“These guys know themselves very well,” Jones said. “They know when they need to back off as far as bullpens and their throwing on days they’re not throwing bullpens.”
— Detroit Free Press