DETROIT (AP) — Rajai Davis hit his third career grand slam with one out in the ninth inning, giving the Detroit Tigers a 5-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
Oakland closer Sean Doolittle (2-2) was given a three-run lead to work with in the ninth, but only managed one out. Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila started the inning with singles. Eugenio Suarez struck out but Doolittle walked Austin Jackson — just the second walk he has issued this season — to load the bases.
Doolittle then missed the strike zone with a curveball, then hung another one over the middle of the plate. Davis didn’t make any mistakes, hitting his first career walkoff homer down the left field line.
Detroit’s rally took Anibal Sanchez off the hook — he allowed two earned runs in seven innings to extend his unbeaten streak to 10 starts.
Blaine Hardy (1-0) earned his first career victory with a scoreless top of the ninth.
Oakland starter Scott Kazmir left the game in the sixth, one pitch after appearing to grab at his hip, but Dan Otero replaced him and kept the game tied through seven innings. A team spokesperson said that Kazmir was “fine”.
Oakland broke a 1-all tie in the eighth, helped by a Tigers defensive lapse. Yoenis Cespedes led off with a routine grounder to short, but Suarez’s throw sailed well over Cabrera’s head at first. Brandon Moss followed with an RBI double into the left-center gap. Sanchez then walked Donaldson.
Joba Chamberlain entered and allowed a single to Stephen Vogt, loading the bases. Jed Lowrie made it 4-1 with a two-run single to left, but Phil Coke replaced Chamberlain and almost got out of the inning in one batter.
Nick Castellanos grabbed Alberto Callaspo’s grounder, stepped on third and threw to Ian Kinsler at second for a double play. Kinsler relayed the ball to first, hoping for a 5-4-3 triple play, but Callaspo beat the throw.
Sanchez allowed baserunners in each of the first four innings, but was helped out by a pair of outstanding defensive plays. Suarez made a diving stop in the first to rob Donaldson of an RBI single, while Jackson dived to take a hit away from Lowrie. The Jackson play was unusual, because he has a long-standing policy of never diving for balls, because he thinks there is too much risk of a ball getting past him.
Sanchez, who struck out his 1,000th career batter in the fourth, lost his shutout in the sixth on Lowrie’s RBI single, but Miguel Cabrera tied the game in the bottom of the inning, crushing a 2-2 changeup into the Oakland bullpen beyond the left-centerfield fence.
NOTES: The Tigers honored the 1984 World Series champions before the game, with Alan Trammell, the series MVP, speaking on behalf of the team. He and Lou Whitaker received the two biggest ovations, while Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and the late Sparky Anderson were both remembered fondly by the crowd. At the end of the ceremony, Whitaker took the mound with Trammell behind the plate, but both jogged to their familiar positions on either side of second base. Whitaker flipped to Trammell, who tagged second and threw to Dave Bergman at first for a ceremonial double play. … Tigers DH Victor Martinez was a late scratch because of a sore side, and was replaced by J.D. Martinez. … Cespedes found out before the game that he has moved into third place in voting for the American League’s All-Star outfield, passing Melky Cabrera. Cespedes has 1.94 million votes to Cabrera’s 1.93.