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.

Report: Mike Trout as recognizable to Americans as NBA’s Kenneth Faried

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On Monday, the Washington Post cited Q Scores, a firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, with regard to Angels outfielder Mike Trout. According to Q Scores, Trout is as recognized to Americans as NBA forward Kenneth Faried, who has spent seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets and is now a reserve with the Brooklyn Nets. Trout’s score was 22, which means just over one in five Americans know who he is.

We have talked here at various times about Trout’s lack of marketability. He has expressed zero interest in being marketed as the face of baseball. Additionally, based on the nature of the sport, it’s harder for baseball to aggressively market its stars since star players don’t impact teams the same way they do in other sports. LeBron James, for example, carries whatever team he’s on to the NBA Finals. James has appeared in the NBA Finals every year dating back to 2011. Trout, despite being far and away the best active player in baseball and one of the best players of all time, has only reached the postseason once, in 2014 when his Angels were swept in the ALDS by the Royals. Trout can’t carry his team to the playoffs and his team hasn’t helped him any in getting there on a regular basis.

Baseball is also more of a regional sport. Fans follow their local team, of course, and don’t really venture beyond that even though games are broadcast nationally throughout the week. The NFL schedule is much shorter and occurs once a week, so fans put aside time to watch not just their favorite team’s game, but other games of interest as well. A June game between the subpar White Sox and Tigers doesn’t have much appeal to it since it’s one of 162 games for both teams, and both teams will play again later in the season. Comparatively, a game between the Bears and Lions has more intrigue since they only play twice a year.

It’s kind of a shame for baseball that Trout isn’t bigger than he is because he is a once-in-a-generation talent, like Ken Griffey Jr. In fact, Trout is so good that he’s still underrated. He’s on pace to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, going by Wins Above Replacement. Despite that, he’s anything but a lock to win the MVP Award at season’s end because the narratives around other players, like Mookie Betts, are more compelling.

Trout’s marketability is an issue that isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. Trout is who he is and forcing him to ham it up for the cameras would come off as forced and unnatural. Major League Baseball will simply have to hope its other stars, like Betts and Bryce Harper, can help broaden the appeal of the sport.