A's Brandon Inge pounds former Tigers team again
By JANIE McCAULEY
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Jim Leyland is getting quite the view of a suddenly productive Brandon Inge, in the other dugout, beating his former Tigers.
Inge hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the fourth time in five games, Josh Reddick homered twice and had a career-high five RBIs, and the Oakland Athletics pounded Detroit 11-4 on Friday night.
"He's really swinging well right now. He's got a second wind, and it's a good thing obviously for him," said Leyland, Detroit's manager. "He's swinging the bat as good as I've seen him swing it for a while. He's in a pretty good groove right now."
Inge sent a 2-1 pitch into the elevated left-field bleachers in the sixth inning for his fifth homer of the year and fourth since joining the A's on April 30 after the Tigers cut him. It was his second longball in two nights after he hit a grand slam in Thursday's 10-6 loss. Inge also delivered a game-ending grand slam on Tuesday against Toronto.
"What else can he do?" Reddick said of Inge. "He's been great. I don't know what those guys across the way were thinking when they let him go."
Inge insists he hasn't been this good over such a short stretch even in a video game. Inge became the first player with four games of four or more RBIs in a five-game stretch since Lou Gehrig in 1931, according to information provided by the A's from the Elias Sports Bureau.
Inge's big bat backed Tommy Milone (5-2), who struck out six in seven innings to win for the fourth time in five starts and become Oakland's first pitcher with five victories this year. He retired the final 10 batters he faced in order.
Miguel Cabrera singled twice and drove in two runs for the Tigers, who haven't won consecutive games since a four-game winning streak from April 15-18 - when Inge was still with the club.
"The way I was last year and early this year, it seemed like when I did get good wood on the ball it went right at somebody," Inge said. "So there is a flip side of it, things should usually balance out. When things go like this and you get hot you feel like you get all the breaks. But I also know things don't go like this all the time."
Reddick hit a solo homer in the third and a three-run shot in the seventh for his first career two-homer game, and he matched his career best with four hits. Seth Smith doubled among his three hits and Kila Ka'aihue doubled twice and scored two runs for Oakland, which evened the four-game series by scoring its most runs of season. The A's outhit the Tigers 13-8 on the way to their first double-digit run total of 2012.
Inge let his old team have it again.
"I don't know what to say about that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's been phenomenal."
Inge was acquired by Oakland to fill a void at third base after the A's tried several options at the spot following Scott Sizemore's season-ending knee injury at the start of spring training. Inge is doing plenty at the plate, too.
This marked his 14th career game came with for or more RBIs - and he received a nice ovation from the crowd of 26,721 at the Coliseum after flying out to the warning track in center in the eighth on a warm spring night in the Bay Area.
Inge was released by the Tigers on April 26 after batting .100 (2 for 20) with one home run and two RBIs in nine games this season. Inge, who turns 35 on May 19, joined his first new team in his 12th major league season.
"It's good to feel wanted. That's an important thing," Inge said. "The other part is coming into this group of guys, there's not one guy on this team who has given me a hard time, if it's not joking. The whole attitude of this ballclub is very much laid back, but at the same time you step between the lines and it's very much business."
Milone fell behind 1-0 in the first after allowing Cabrera's double-play grounder, but the A's answered in the bottom half against Rick Porcello (3-3). Reddick hit a two-out single and Ka'aihue doubled him home. Inge added an RBI single two batters later.
Leyland's Detroit lineup, featuring two left-handed hitters with slugger Prince Fielder batting cleanup and Andy Dirks in the No. 2 hole, couldn't hang in what became a hitting show by the suddenly powerful A's. They came into the game as the second-lowest scoring team in the American League.
Porcello was tagged for nine hits and four runs in five innings, falling to 12-5 with a 2.85 ERA in 17 career starts in May.
"From the get-go I was out of sync. I wasn't locating the fastball down in the zone," Porcello said. "I had a tough time getting the middle of the order out. It's not a good combination for an effective game."
Inge and Co. sure are taking some pressure off ailing rookie A's cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes, who missed his fourth straight game after straining the top of his left hand before Tuesday's game, when he was a late scratch.
NOTES: Tigers catcher Alex Avila got the night off, with Gerald Laird starting in his place. Leyland said with a lefty starter, it was a good time to rest Avila and his sore left knee. ... Dirks is still dealing with a troublesome hamstring. "I'd really like to settle him into that 2 spot, but he's really not running full speed," Leyland said. "I'm a little concerned about it." Leyland said the team's athletic trainer told him Thursday night Dirks can play through the problem and still be 100 percent. ... Detroit RHP Luis Marte, on the DL with a strained left hamstring, was set to face hitters in extended spring training Saturday in Lakeland, Fla.
Updated May 12, 2012