Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque’s win was sealed with a kiss Sunday, as he opted to give the baseball a little sugar after snagging Yoenis Cespedes’ comebacker to end the top of the ninth.
Alburquerque kissed the ball before throwing it over to Prince Fielder for the out in a tie game. It was the only batter he’d face, and he was credited with the victory when the Tigers scored in the bottom of the ninth.
The A’s weren’t at all impressed by the gesture.
“It did get under my skin,” outfielder Josh Reddick said. “It was very unprofessional. I didn’t appreciate that one bit.”
One imagines the Tigers will tell Alburquerque not to do it again. If any Detroit reliever is going to make it a point to regularly show up the other team, it’s going to be Jose Valverde.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.