Torii Hunter hits a three-run walkoff homer to steal a win from the A’s

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The A’s had smacked the Tigers around for three days and then sprung out to a 6-1 lead after five innings in their series wrapup against the Tigers today. All this with Miguel Cabrera sidelined after leaving the game with an abdominal injury. Max Scherzer looked destined for only his second loss of the year and the A’s were poised for a series sweep.

But baseball has no clock and the Tigers roared back.

Prince Fielder hit a solo homer and Ramon Santiago singled in Don Kelly in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-3.  That’s how it’d stay until the ninth inning when the A’s brought in Grant Balfour to close things out. Except he didn’t. He let this happen:

  • An Austin Jackson walk;
  • A couple of outs in the form of Andy Dirks and Alex Avila;
  • A Prince Fielder Walk;
  • A Victor Martinez single which scored Jackson to make it 6-4; and then
  • A three-run, walkoff homer by Torii Hunter.

And the crowd went wild, of course.

At some point the Tigers starters are going to have to return to their usual dominant form, as Scherzer was roughed up today, Fister last night, Verlander on Tuesday and Anibal Sanchez on Monday. But this is a team with an offense that can pick up some bad pitching if it has to. Even if the MVP is on the bench nursing his wounds.

Bartolo Colon ain’t doing so hot this year

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If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.

Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.

The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.

At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.