Detroit Tigers’ weekend from hell in Oakland ends with bad-luck loss in sweep

Detroit Free Press
Dana Gauruder |  Special to Detroit Free Press

No matter how chilly it might get around here in the middle of this week, the Detroit Tigers will be thrilled to be 2,387 miles from Oakland.

They started the week with a three-game sweep of manager AJ Hinch’s former club in Houston. That became a distant memory soon after they arrived on the West Coast.

The A’s swept a four-game series from them, including an agonizing 3-2 walkoff loss on Sunday. The run was set up by a fly ball lost in the sun.

The sun never seemed to shine on the Tigers all series.

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Detroit’s pitching staff was beset by control issues in the opener on Thursday, walking 12 batters. The offense, which produced 20 runs against the Astros, went silent the next two days.

Harold Castro finally ended the Tigers’ 23-inning scoreless streak with a two-run single in the sixth inning on Sunday. That breakthrough hit was bookended by a series of weird plays, bad breaks and missed opportunities.

The Tigers threatened in the first inning but a baserunning error by Robbie Grossman proved costly. With two on and no one out, Grossman didn’t get a good read at second base on Willi Castro’s bloop to center that dropped in front of Ramon Laureano.

Laureano was able to force out Grossman with a throw to third.

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“I thought Laureano baited him and froze him a little bit,” Hinch said. “On the ball off the bat, I thought it was going to be caught.”

Wilson Ramos’ subsequent single merely loaded the bases instead of knocking in a run. A’s starter Chris Bassitt then retired the next two batters, including Harold Castro, who had hits in his next three at-bats.

“He got me in the first inning. He threw me good pitches,” Castro said. “I stayed with my confidence. I knew I could hit the ball against him.”

Castro’s streak-breaking single gave the Tigers a 2-1 advantage that Matthew Boyd carried into the eighth inning. Sean Murphy then pulled a fastball over the left-center field fence to tie it.

“It wasn’t the only mistake I made in this game,” Boyd said. “I made one to (Elvis) Andrus and he hit it well. I made one to (Mark Canha) and he got a single out of it. Sometimes you don’t realize them. Sometimes it goes down as a strike or a ball or ends up in someone’s glove. That one, it ended up on the other side of the fence.”

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After Harold Castro was left stranded in scoring position in the top of the ninth, Oakland’s Matt Olson hit a routine fly ball to center. Trouble was, center fielder Victor Reyes couldn’t find it. It dropped harmlessly in front of him when Olson chugged to second with a double.

“The sun is pretty bad in day games here,” Harold Castro said. “I can tell you because I played centerfield here in 2019 and it’s pretty tough to see the ball when the sun is right there.”

With two on and two out, catcher Wilson Ramos nearly bailed the Tigers out by picking off Olson at second. Second base umpire Angel Hernandez initially called Olson out, then realized shortstop Willi Castro didn’t hang onto the ball.

A few pitches later, Mitch Moreland slapped an opposite-field bouncer off Gregory Soto that third baseman Jeimer Candelario couldn’t corral. Olson came around to score and the Tigers’ lost weekend was complete.

The Tigers get an off day on Monday before beginning a three-game series against Pittsburgh. All Hinch wanted to do afterward was look ahead.

“The first few series of the year are long gone. The series at Houston is long gone,” Hinch said. “We’re going to go home, get an off-day and get a fresh start at home against a new team.”

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