- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 22, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - Less than two weeks after being picked up by Detroit as something of a reclamation project, Neftali Feliz was on the mound in the eighth inning, trying to hold a two-run lead.

Feliz allowed a run on a wild pitch, then an intentional walk loaded the bases with two out. The Detroit bullpen remained quiet, with manager Brad Ausmus hoping his new right-hander could make it through the inning.

“He’s thrown the ball well since he’s been here, and he’s been a closer, so he has the experience of pitching in high-pressure situations,” Ausmus said.

Feliz was indeed a successful closer for a while with Texas, but on Tuesday night he became the latest Detroit reliever to falter in a big spot this year, allowing a pinch-hit grand slam to Seattle’s Franklin Gutierrez that lifted the Mariners to an 11-9 victory over the Tigers.

The Tigers came in facing a four-game deficit in the race for a wild card in the American League, leading to talk they might trade David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and perhaps some other big-name players before the July 31 deadline.

Detroit’s clubhouse was closed to the media for a while before the game. Ausmus wouldn’t say what went on, but the Tigers are certainly aware of the urgency of their situation.

“At the beginning of the season, we expected better than this, but we are where we are,” shortstop Andrew Romine said. “We’re still a good team and there is a long way to go. I’ve seen teams come back from farther than we are right now, and that’s how we have to think about this.”

Detroit came back from a 5-1 deficit and led 8-6 when Feliz (1-3) allowed five runs in the eighth. Feliz was picked up by Detroit on July 11 after refusing a minor league assignment from Texas. He made it through his first three appearances with the Tigers without allowing a run, but the Mariners broke through.

Feliz now has a 5.79 ERA this season. Detroit’s bullpen has blown 11 saves.

Joe Beimel (1-1) got the win in relief, and Carson Smith got four outs for his eighth save.

Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and Detroit’s J.D. Martinez each hit long home runs to center field in the third.

Cespedes and Nick Castellanos also homered for Detroit.

Detroit’s Shane Greene allowed four runs in the first inning, and Cruz’s 22nd homer of the season made it 5-1. That drive went into the second row of bushes beyond the wall in center and was measured at 455 feet by MLB.com. Martinez’s homer in the bottom of the inning went 12 feet farther, reaching the ivy above a camera platform. It was his 27th of the year.

“It’s a huge park. Those guys have some pretty good power,” Gutierrez said. “It was amazing.”

Cespedes tied it with a two-run shot in the fifth, and the Tigers scored four runs in the inning to lead 7-5.

With the score 8-6 after Castellanos went deep in the seventh. Feliz, Alex Wilson and closer Joakim Soria were Detroit’s only remaining relievers. Wilson had posted a 2.03 ERA in his first 33 appearances this year, but Ausmus didn’t want to use him since he wanted to save a multiple-inning reliever for the possibility of extra innings.

With the bases loaded and two out, Feliz threw a wild pitch. After an intentional walk, Gutierrez hit the second pinch-hit grand slam in Mariners history. Ben Broussard hit one in 2007.

Wilson did pitch a scoreless ninth.

Soria has pitched more than an inning on three occasions this season, but Ausmus wasn’t going to second-guess himself for sticking with Feliz in the eighth.

“I would do nothing differently in that game,” Ausmus said. “Quite frankly, I would do it exactly the same way.”

SHAKY STARTS

Seattle’s Taijuan Walker allowed five earned runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. Greene allowed five runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.

It was Greene’s sixth straight start with at least four runs allowed.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: Seattle is without LHP Charlie Furbush (left biceps tendinitis) and LHP James Paxton (strained left middle finger) - they are both on the DL.

Tigers: There was no update on the status of slugger Miguel Cabrera (left calf strain), who is not expected back before mid-August.

UP NEXT

Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (9-7) faces Seattle LHP Mike Montgomery (4-3) on Wednesday night.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide