The Tigers’ backs are up against the wall. They fell to the A’s 6-3 this afternoon, and now find themselves in a 2-1 hole in their best of five series vs. Oakland.
A team with a reputation for bashing the ball had to scratch and claw for runs the past two games and, with the exception of a three-run fourth inning, could never get on track again today. Those runs were their first in 20 innings, but that’s all they could get off Jarrod Parker and Detroit followed up that moderate outburst with five more goose eggs.
Meanwhile, the A.L. ERA leader, Anibal Sanchez, was touched for six runs — five earned — while allowing three home runs in four and a third. Brandon Moss, Seth Smith and Josh Reddick went deep for the A’s. Additional runs came on a Miguel Cabrera error in the third and a Coco Crisp sac fly in the fourth.
There will likely be some nervous Tigers fans suggesting that Max Scherzer get the call on short rest for tomorrow’s Game Four. But that seems like a pipe dream. Scherzer is not that kind of horse — he’s never even pitched a complete game — so it’ll be up to Doug Fister to save the Tigers season tomorrow.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: