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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.

Billy Butler on altercation with Danny Valencia: “We had equal faults in this.”

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 24: Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to regain the lead against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on July 24, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
Don Feria/Getty Images
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On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.

Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:

“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”

[…]

“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”

[…]

“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”

Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.

Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Report: Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehab

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.

Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.

Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.