The Tigers bested the Twins 2-1 in Minnesota on Sunday, but the White Sox failed to keep pace, losing 6-2 to the Rays to fall three games back in the AL Central with three to play.
B.J. Upton hit his 27th and 28th homers for Tampa Bay, and David Price was in control, yielding two runs in seven innings to become the first 20-game winner in Rays history. Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney finished up from there as the Rays took three out of four in Chicago.
Detroit won despite being outhit 10-7. Of course, all of Minnesota’s hits were singles. Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer in the eighth to do all of the damage the Tigers needed this one.
Miguel Cabrera’s bid for the Triple Crown appears poised to go down to the wire. He ended the game 0-for-3 with an intentional walk, lowering his average to .325. Joe Mauer went 3-for-4, also with an intentional walk, raising his average to .323. Also, Mike Trout went 2-for-4 in the Angels’ victory, putting him at .322 entering the second game of a doubleheader. Josh Hamilton didn’t homer, so Cabrera remains tied for the AL lead with 43 there. The RBI title is all wrapped up.
The Tigers will be able to clinch the AL Central by winning in Kansas City any of the next three days. The White Sox have already been eliminated from the wild card, so things appear very bleak for them.
Tampa Bay still has a slim shot. The Rays really need a loss from the A’s today, though. They’ll end the day two or three back of Oakland for the second wild card.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.