Detroit Tigers

Pitcher’s duel turns into slugfest, A’s fall to Tigers 6-5

Miggy Cabrera

It was billed as a pitcher’s duel between two of the premier pitchers in the game: Sonny Gray, owner of a league-best 1.99 ERA coming in, and Max Scherzer, the league’s reigning Cy Young award winner.

It wound up being nothing like a pitcher’s duel. Neither pitcher lasted into the seventh inning, and Scherzer allowed four runs while Gray gave up five. The Tigers won 6-5 over the A’s, mounting a comeback in the later innings.

The go-ahead run that crossed the plate in the eighth was manufactured by Rajai Davis, the former A’s outfielder. Pinch-running at first with one out, Davis reached second on a past ball, alertly stole third by taking advantage of Derek Norris’ nonchalant lob when he threw the ball back to the pitcher, then scored on a fielder’s choice.

There was no late-game magic for the A’s tonight, as they failed to record a hit in the last three innings. Dan Otero, who entered the game for Gray in the seventh, gave up a solo blast to Torii Hunter that tied the game at 5-5.

But going back to the much hyped “pitcher’s duel,” Gray and Scherzer looked ordinary, even mediocre, in their respective outings. Gray got into trouble right away, allowing a walk and three hits in the first and fell behind 2-0. He allowed a homer to Miguel Cabrera in the third, and a RBI double to Alex Avila in the fourth. Four of the first 10 batters reached based against Gray.

Fortunately for him, five of the first 10 batters against Scherzer reached base. The reigning Cy Young winner was also shaky. The fourth inning was especially atrocious. With runners at the corners, Scherzer inexplicably balked by throwing to third without stepping off the rubber, allowing a run to score. Two batters later, a two-run blast by John Jaso gave the A’s a 5-4 lead.

The moral of the story? Aces aren’t always going to be flawless, and players who the average had no idea was even on a team’s roster (Rajai Davis) end up deciding the game.

Straight A’s

— Before he hit that two-run blast in the fourth, Jaso had been drilled by a pitch from Scherzer in the previous at-bat. The umpire originally thought he had made contact with the ball and ruled it in play after it trickled into fair territory, but upon seeing Jaso’s arm swelling up to an alarming degree, thought better of it and awarded Jaso first base.

I mean, look at that thing:

That makes Jaso’s home run even more impressive, because if that happened to me, I’m putting two cold ice packs on my arm and googling “how to treat a swollen arm that was just hit by a fastball traveling at 95 MPH.”

— I have no idea why the league decided to ban the “look to third, throw to first” move and call it a balk. It rarely works, and if you somehow wind up being duped by it, you probably deserve to be picked off.

— Speaking of pitcher’s duels, why isn’t anybody talking about tomorrow’s starters? Scott Kazmir is sixth in the A.L. with a 2.56 ERA, and Anibal Sanchez is right behind him with an ERA of 2.83, although he has pitched just 35.0 innings.

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