Tigers force ALDS Game 5 with 8-6 victory over A’s

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There will be a Game 5 in Oakland on Thursday.

Tigers starter Doug Fister yielded seven hits, a walk and three earned runs over a shaky six-inning outing and the Detroit offense appeared lifeless in the early frames, but a three-run fifth, a two-run seventh and a three-run eighth gave the American League Central champions an 8-6 comeback victory in Game 4 of the ALDS on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

A’s starter Dan Straily sprinted out of the gate, throwing four no-hit frames to open the game. But the Tigers got back-to-back singles from Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning and then Jhonny Peralta launched a three-run shot to left that tied the score at 3-3. Oakland fought back to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh inning and staged a late rally on Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit in the top of the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough against the suddenly-awoken Detroit bats.

V-Mart slugged a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the seventh that may or may not have been interfered with by a Tigers fan. Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick had a good beat on it and seemed to jump at the right time, but the baseball was snatched away a few feet above his outstretched glove. It was reviewed by the umpiring crew and the home run was upheld, presumably due to the inconclusive replay angles.

The Tigers added another run in the bottom of the seventh inning on an Austin Jackson RBI single and three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to put that controversial big fly on the backburner.

Detroit will roll with Justin Verlander in Game 5 at O.Co Coliseum because Max Scherzer was needed in relief in this wacky Game 4. Oakland can either go with Bartolo Colon or youngster Sonny Gray.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.