Victor Martinez‘s two-run double that scored Don Kelly and Miguel Cabrera in the seventh inning turned out to be the difference, as the Detroit Tigers downed the Oakland Athletics 5-3 in the series finale from O.co Coliseum.
The Tigers (30-20) earned the series split on the road and picked up a very important win for a team that has had its struggles over the past couple of weeks. It started at the top of the lineup for the Tigers on Thursday; Ian Kinsler and Don Kelly got things going for the Tigers offense, each picking up a couple of hits on the day.
Kinsler went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, raising his batting average to .318 on the season. Kelly started out in right field for the Tigers and batted second in the order but did not disappoint. The utility man went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Kelly doesn’t receive a ton of playing time but did make the best of it during Thursday’s afternoon game.
Martinez and Nick Castellanos were the other Tigers to pick up multiple hits during the 5-4 win. Martinez’s .344 batting average currently leads the Tigers in 2014.
Rick Porcello struggled with his command all day, walking six A’s in his 5 2/3 innings of work. Coming into Thursday’s start, Porcello had not walked more than two batters in a game all season, which brought his down walk rate to a career low.
The 25-year-old only gave up five hits and two runs while striking out 4 batters as well. Command of his pitches has been something that Porcello has done on a consistent basis in 2014, so Thursday just could be an outlier. Ian Krol helped Porcello in the sixth inning, as he came in the game to relieve Porcello and got the starter out of the bases-loaded jam.
The Tigers had a minor scare in the bottom of the ninth inning, where the team held a three-run lead heading into the final frame. Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick each picked up an RBI to close the Tigers’ lead to just one run with two outs. Joe Nathan then walked former American League Central nemisis Nick Punto to give the A’s guys on first and second base. Jed Lowrie came up next and grounded out to Miguel Cabrera to end the threat and the game.
Jesse Chavez picked up the loss for the A’s, allowing three runs on eight hits. Chavez also struck out three and walked two, and he currently holds a 2.78 ERA.
The Tigers continue their west coast road trip on Friday, as they travel north to play the Seattle Mariners in a three-game series. Justin Verlander (5-2, 4.04 ERA) is the probable starter for the Tigers and will face Hisashi Iwakuma (3-1, 2.39 ERA) of the Mariners, who is one of the more underrated pitchers in the AL. First pitch is set for 10:00 p.m. EST.