The Tigers were twice in good position to break a scoreless tie against Jon Lester and the Red Sox in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS, but poor base running decisions left them with nothing at the end of the inning. Jhonny Peralta led off with a double to left-center. Omar Infante followed up with a sharp grounder to Mike Napoli at first base, who fired to second base as Peralta had initially broken towards third base. Shortstop Stephen Drew applied the tag on Peralta just before his foot got back to the bag, leaving the Tigers with a runner on first base and one out.
They continued to threaten, however, as Alex Aliva lined a single to right field. Infante was able to advance to third base when Shane Victorino hilariously kicked the ball in front of himself. With runners on the corners and one out, the Tigers score in a number of ways — any kind of hit, a fly ball of moderate depth, and most non-double play ground balls. Jose Iglesias hit a slow curve on the ground to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who fired home to catcher David Ross, nailing Infante with plenty of room to spare. Austin Jackson meekly flied out to right field to end the frame, the Tigers still scoreless.
The Tigers were, by far, baseball’s worst base running team during the regular season, according to Baseball Prospectus.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez is pitching extremely well, having racked up ten strikeouts in five innings of work. He has yet to allow a hit, though he has walked three batters. For the Tigers, it is imperative they provide him a modicum of run support, but to Lester’s credit, he has looked quite strong on the mound as well, blanking the Tigers on five hits and no walks while striking out five.
Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.
“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:
Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.
Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.
While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”
Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”
Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.
This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.
Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.
Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.
The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.