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The Grand Slam: Tigers pull even in AL Central after doubleheader split

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The Kansas City Royals are cooling off this weekend and the Detroit Tigers have taken advantage so far, taking two of their first three games against the Chicago White Sox. On Saturday, Detroit split a day-night doubleheader with Chicago, losing the opener 6-3 after striking out 13 times against Chris Sale, before rebounding to win the nightcap 8-4.

Making his major league debut, 23-year-old right-hander Kyle Ryan tossed six scoreless innings for Detroit. Meanwhile, his offense jumped on debuting White Sox hurler Chris Bassitt for five runs in the first four innings. Ian Kinsler did most of the damage, singling home one run in the third and two more in the fourth. He finished with three hits.

With the second game in the books, Detroit's status rested on the results of Kansas City's game against the Cleveland Indians. Thanks to RBI singles from Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana in the 11th inning, Cleveland emerged with a 3-2 win, meaning Detroit and Kansas City are now even at 74-61. The Indians are still hanging around at 3 1/2 back.

The only real downside for Detroit is the uncertainty surrounding two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera left the game in the fourth inning with a sore right ankle and could end up missing a few days, although manager Brad Ausmus says they won't know his short term status until Sunday.

''It flares up from time to time with different movements and different actions,'' Ausmus said. ''I told him I could give him a day tomorrow, and he said, 'No, don't decide now because I might be good in the morning.'

ANGELS USE EIGHT PITCHERS TO SHUT OUT A'S: As one division tightens, another continues to slip away from the Oakland A's.

The Los Angeles Angels extended their division lead to four games with a 2-0 win on Saturday night. Amazingly, they did so despite not having a true starting pitcher availble to make the start. With Garrett Richards done for the season, Mike Scioscia mixed and matched for nine innings using eight different relievers, including Cory Rasmus, who pitched the first three innings. 

Michael Roth, Yoslan Herrera, Fernando Salas, Jason Grilli, Kevin Jepsen, Joe Smith and Huston Street also appeared for the Angels, with Street picking up his 11th save since being traded in July. Together, they limited Oakland to three hits and two walks while striking out 11. 

A true team effort if there ever was one, and now Oakland enters the finale on Sunday hoping to avoid a four-game sweep. 

DREW HUTCHISON AND AARON SANCHEZ THROW COMBINED ONE-HITTER: In a battle of fading (if not completely faded) AL East teams, the Blue Jays topped the Yankees 2-0 behind a marvelous pitching performance from two of the youngest arms.

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(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

Starter Drew Hutchison allowed only one hit - Mark Teixeira's two-out double in the fourth - over seven shutout innings to pick up his 9th win of the season. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out nine, walked two and hit two batters, but was only threatened in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs. Hutchinson got Martin Prado on a fly ball to end the threat and keep Toronto ahead.

"I feel really good; I probably feel the best I have all year," Hutchison said. "I've been able to get into a good rhythm within my delivery, stay within my delivery, and I think that's shown.

"Obviously, every time I go out there, I expect to go deep into the game and be successful. I thought I showed that today. I was able to have good command. My fastball was really good, and everything comes off the fastball for me."

In the eighth inning, Hutchison gave way to rookie Aaron Sanchez, who proceeded to throw two perfect innings to notch his first career save. Sanchez struck out three, giving him 17 in 13 appearances this season.

Offensively, Toronto did all its damage on one swing in the first inning. Jose Bautista launched a two-run homer off Michael Pineda. New York's right-hander would settle in nicely and give Joe Girardi six very good innings.

By the way, the Boston Red Sox were also one-hit on Saturday, falling to Jake Odorizzi and the Tampa Bay Rays 7-0

PADRES WIN THIRD STRAIGHT IN WALKOFF FASHION: The San Diego Padres are certainly embracing the role of spoiler this week. For the third straight game, they knocked off a first-place team in dramatic walk-off fashion.

San Diego started the streak by stunning the Milwaukee Brewers on Wedneday. In their last two games, they've upended the Los Angeles Dodgers in their final at-bat in extra innings.  In Saturday's 2-1 win, Alexi Amarista played the role of hero, singling home Will Venable in the tenth. 

With the win, San Diego now has 10 walkoff victories overall this season. They've also clinched their first home series win over the Dodgers since 2010, and their sixth consecutive home series win overall.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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