DETROIT (AP)—Gary Sheffield still needs four home runs to reach 500. In the meantime, he provided a milestone for Major League Baseball.
Sheffield was mostly thinking about hitting No. 500.
“It really probably won’t hit me until I get one or two away. Really, to me, four isn’t close,” he said. “You have to be at one or two. I can hit two in a game, I’ve never hit three.”
“A lot of guys put good swings on the ball and hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Both starting pitchers struggled. Zach Miner of the Tigers gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings, and rookie Gio Gonzalez (1-4) allowed a career-high nine runs—eight earned—and five hits in 1 2-3 innings. Gonzalez hit two batters and walked two.
“It was a tough loss. I take the blame on this one,” Gonzalez said. “It was a learning experience for me. I can only turn the page and see what happens tomorrow.”
In his first seven starts, Gonzalez has lasted more than five innings just once.
Gonzalez also put himself in the history books, in a dubious manner.
He hit Hessman twice in the second inning. It’s only the fifth time in modern baseball history that a batter has been hit twice in the same inning, the second time in the American League. The first was Brady Anderson on May 23, in 1999, when he was hit twice in the first inning by Mike Morgan.
Hessman got his revenge with a home run in the eighth inning off reliever Jeff Gray, who was making his major league debut.
Reliever Casey Fossum (3-1) got the win for the Tigers, pitching 2 2-3 hitless innings. He came in got the last two outs in the fifth after Oakland scored five in the inning to cut the deficit to 12-8.
“Hitting is contagious and things kind of snowballed that inning,” Fossum said. “I’m left-handed, a little different look. And I was able to slow it down a little bit.”
But Detroit went ahead 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer by Ordonez and a solo shot by Sheffield one out later.
The Tigers made it 9-2 with six in the second. Brandon Inge tripled in a run, and after two outs, Ordonez walked and Cabrera was hit by a pitch. Sheffield followed with a grand slam for his 16th home run of the season.
Edgar Renteria also doubled in a run.
“They have good power hitters,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “Its tough to overcome a lead like that.”
Ordonez was 3-for-3 to stretch his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s hitting .469 (23-for-49) during that stretch. … Detroit LHP Dontrelle Willis and RHP Freddy Garcia pitched in a simulated game before the game. Leyland was pleased with both pitchers. Willis spent most of the season at Single-A Lakeland working on his control and Garcia was signed to a minor league contract and hasn’t pitched in the majors since mid 2007. … Oakland’s Rajai Davis was 2-for-6 to extend his hitting streak to six games .375 (9-for-24).