The Athletics hosted a Cinco De Mayo fiesta in Oakland, Friday. But Victor Martinez, Jim Adduci and the Detroit Tigers were the only ones dancing.
And dance the Tigers (15-13) did, skipping the Jarabe Tapatio around the base paths to a tune of 11 hits and 7-2 strumming of the home town A’s (12-17).
Oakland did take a swing at a late closing number, putting together single runs in the sixth and eighth, but alas it was too little too late.
First baseman and clean-up hitter Yonder Alonso summed of the evening:
“We didn’t play our best baseball, they obviously did. They outplayed us in every aspect of the game.”
Taking the ball to begin the game for the A’s was surprise right-hander Andrew Triggs. And it was a lot of the same for Triggs (L, 4-2, 2.34 ERA) who once again pitched well — he has now given up three or fewer earned runs in all but one of his starts this season.
One of the problems for the 28-year-old, though, has been the defense at his back. With two more unearned runs scoring against him, he has now suffered five such tallies this season (he has allowed just eight earned runs).
Manager Bob Melvin said that defense has been, and will continue to be, an area of focus for his club:
“It ends up costing us, and this year we’ve had a few that have cost us.”
The defense hurt early on this night, with an error by the normally sure-handed Adam Rosales in the third inning leading to the first two Detroit runs. But, while it was an error that set up the pain, it was a hit-happy Martinez who delivered the painful blow, chopping a single through the middle of a shifted infield for a two-run single scoring Jose Iglesias and Andrew Romine.
The skipper said he was surprised by the culprit on this offence:
“Rosey, I can’t remember the last time he made an error … he’s been real consistent. Not an easy ball, he’ll probably say he should have made the play — he’s coming in on it, and the ball stayed down — and then a couple runs score.”
Triggs’ run support has dried up as well.
After getting 17 runs of backing in his first three starts of the season, the team’s top performing hurler came into his sixth start having received just three in his last two outings — though he did pull off a 2-1 win in one of those games.
That support, rather lack thereof, was on full display once again. And no one did less with more than Matt Joyce. Twice the A’s two-hole hitter strode to the plate in RBI situations, and twice he did little more than offer lackluster at-bats ending in swinging misses.
First, with the bases loaded, he took his team’s key at-bat with one out in the third. Looking to answer the two-spot posted in the top half of the inning, the bottom of the order heated the oven with a walk an a single from Bruce Maxwell and Rosales respectively. Lead-off man Rajai Davis followed with a single of his own to set the fullest of tables for the right fielder.
Despite immediately falling behind 2-0, it took Detroit starter Michael Fulmer just five pitches to dispatch Joyce, using a changeup to finish him off.
The first-year Athletic would get a shot at salvation just two innings later, with his team’s deficit stalled at two.
Once again, it was Rosales and Rajai who prepped the to veteran, putting together back-to-back two-out singles. Once again, they were left on the pond as Joyce went down on the fifth pitch of the at-bat — another changeup.
Melvin said the Fulmer changeup, or what Alonso called a splitter, is a new and impressive development for the reigning rookie of the year:
“He’s a little different this year … in that he’s got a really good changeup for lefties, and we know when he gets in trouble that’s what he’s going to.”
Oakland finally would find the board in the sixth, using a Tigers error to do so.
The red hot Alonso was credited with the A’s first RBI, pushing into a tie with Khris Davis for the team lead — 18. The first baseman pulled ahead in the eighth, adding one more on a run-scoring double.
The single run, though, came a half-inning after Adduci delivered the biggest blow of the night, a three-run triple chasing the Oakland starter from the festivities. Triggs tossed 5-1/3 innings, allowing eight hits, one walk and five runs (three earned) while striking out five.
Triggs and Melvin agreed that Adduci’s was the swing that hurt the most. The starter said:
“You never want to give up three runs — or any runs — on one pitch. That looms large, for sure.”
He did add, however, that the pitch he threw — a cutter down and in:
“We got him swinging on the same pitch the last time through, and we made a couple good ones that got us back to two strikes after getting 2-0. … I think it was a good pitch, but he did a nice job of keeping his hands in and shortening up.”
Fulmer (W, 3-1, 2.77 ERA) finished logging 8 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs (one earned). He struck out nine, and is now 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in two career starts against the A’s.
Pacing the Motor City offense in his support, Martinez posted a 3-for-4 performance with two RBIs while Adduci provided two hits and three RBIs in four trips to the plate.
With two hits apiece, Rosales and Alonso accounted for four of Oakland’s nine total, with Alonso driving in both runs. Rajai, though, led the way going 3-for-5
The green and gold take a second swing at the Tigers Saturday. Jordan Zimmermann (3-1, 6.18 ERA) will take the mound at the center of the Oakland Coliseum for the first time in his career, though he does have a win in his only previous start against the A’s. Jesse Hahn (1-2, 2.53 ERA) gets the ball coming off his worst start of the season — coughing up four runs (three earned) in 6 innings at the Houston Astros (19-10).
Prior to the game, the Oakland Athletics unveiled a new stadium decoration — a “Holy Toledo” sign beyond the wall in center field. The sign honors the catchphrase of the late Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Bill King. It will light up with each spectacular A’s play. Deciding which plays will be greeted with a “Holy Toledo” will be long-time partner of King, and current radio play-by-play man Ken Korach. … With a ground-ball single to left in the ninth, Rajai Davis logged career hit No. 1,000.
Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.