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.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.