The A’s got help from two Tigers errors and 12 walks to earn an 8-4 win at home Thursday night and extend their win streak to five after starting the season 0-6.
Detroit outhit Oakland (6-7) for most of the game but Tigers pitching lost them the game from start to finish. The A’s had two homers on Thursday from Stephen Piscotty and Matt Olson. A Matt Chapman two-run RBI double kept the A’s ahead and the bullpen held the Tigers (6-7) scoreless until Sergio Romo took the mound in the ninth.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.
Detroid LHP Tarik Skubal threw two perfect innings before the A’s got a run and left the bases loaded in the third. Piscotty led off the third with a 404-foot line drive to left field that landed in the stands to make it 1-0. Elvis Andrus and Tony Kemp both struck out looking on full counts, each hearing the late called third strike on their way to first.
Mark Canha walked before Jed Lowrie singled up the middle. Ramon Laureano reached on an error by Tigers shortstop Willi Castro to load the bases with two outs. Chapman stepped up for his second plate appearance after coming up a foot shy on a near-solo homer to right center in the second. Chapman struck out to end the inning with the bases loaded. The A’s would load the bases twice more after the third
but capitalized on neither.
Bob Melvin seemed pleased after Thursday’s win:
“It is kind of what we do. We can hit some homers, we draw some walks, we keep putting pressure on you and then getting some big hits. It didn’t happen for us obviously earlier in the season for six games or so but since then its been complete opposite of what we looked at early on. Our offensive numbers were terrible for a while and now all of a sudden across the board, we’re getting great at-bats.”
Sean Manaea earned his first win of the season and holds a nine-game win streak against AL Central teams. He allowed a hit in the first inning followed by a perfect second. He allowed his first run in the fourth when Jeimer Candelario singled with one out before Castro doubled on a bloop fly ball that landed on the right-field line for a double to tie it 1-1. The A’s challenged the call; you could see the chalk bounce in the replay but the call stood. Manaea (W, 1-1, 4.32 ERA) kept the Tigers to just five hits in six full innings, allowing two runs. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a single batter.
The fourth inning wasn’t much better for Skubal (L, 0-2, 6.08 ERA). Olson lead off with a walk before third baseman Candelario made a throwing error to allow Sean Murphy to land on second. Piscotty struck out with runners on second and third before Andrus sacrificed to claim back a 2-1 with two outs.
Back-to-back walks from Kemp and Canha put runners on first and second before Lowrie flew out to the tracks to end the inning. The A’s scored a run but it was unearned, and they did it all without recording a single hit. Skubal was relieved after four full innings where he allowed two runs (one earned) off two hits and a homer. He struck out five and walked four, with three coming in his fourth and final inning.
Mark Canha explained that the A’s played two teams who may end up have the two best pitching staffs in baseball. To play Detroit in the beginning of the season when the team was still trying to find their “bearings” was the issue, but he is confident in the A’s lineup. The entire lineup make every pitcher who entered the game for the Tigers work.
Canha said he believes the team knows what it takes to win and knows they have a strong lineup:
“It was good to feel that as a lineup, kind of chip away like that and see them crack a little bit. I think we kinda realize what we are capable of when we put together good at bats and we’re selective and don’t try to do too much. And just all those things, up and down the line, we are capable of doing that.”
Buck Farmer relieved Skubal and pitched the fifth. He struck out Laureano and Chapman before giving up a 428-foot homer to center to Olson for a 3-1 Oakland lead. Manaea started the fifth and gave up a solo homer to Niko Goodrum (1) on a 2-1 count to center to make it a 3-2 ballgame with no outs.
Farmer lasted one full inning where he allowed one run off the Olson homer, his only hit allowed. He ended the night with two strikeouts and a walk before being relieved by Joe Jiménez, who pitched the sixth for the Tigers down 3-2.
Jiménez was called up on Thursday after Detroit placed right-fielder Nomar Mazara on the 10-day IL, and it was kind of obvious. Jiménez gave up three walks to load the bases and was relieved after 24 pitches and only one out on a Kemp strikeout on three pitches.
Alex Lange threw a first pitch strike to Laureano but four balls followed to walk in a run for a 4-2 A’s lead. Chapman walked to the plate for the second time of the night with the bases loaded; he struck out to end the third inning but wouldn’t make that mistake again. Chapman doubled on a one-hop bounce off the left-center wall to bring in two runs to make it 6-2. Olson kept the inning alive, walking to load the bases for the third time of the night before Lange was relieved by Tyler Alexander with still just one out.
Melvin was asked about his first appearance at the plate with the bases loaded compared to his second time up with the bases loaded. Melvin explained what has been going on with Chapman and how it is no shock he contributes and can get a job done when needed:
“We have seen him come through so often. You get off to a little bit of a slow start and now you try to at times you will do too much. He is still trying to get his mechanics to where they were before but at that point in time, it’s a huge hit over the course of the game for us, to drive in a couple runs there, probably the biggest hit at the time. So when we needed him, he showed up big. And my guess is he’s going to do a lot more of that before the season is over.”
Alexander walked catcher Sean Murphy to bring in another run which made it 7-2. Piscotty fouled out near first base and the Tigers finally earned their second out of the sixth inning before Andrus stepped into the box for the second time, grounding out to end the four-run sixth off one A’s hit and six walks. Yusmeiro Petit pitched a perfect seventh for the A’s with a strikeout.
Alexander stuck around for the seventh and gave up a leadoff bunt to Kemp. Canha followed with a bloop to shallow center to put runners on the corners with no outs, then Lowrie smoked a line drive single 108-mph off the bat which made it 8-2 with no outs. Chapman struck out before Olson fouled out to end the inning.
J.B. Wendelken pitched the eighth inning for the A’s with an 8-2 cushion. It wasn’t perfect, but it was scoreless, with Wendelken allowing a hit and a walk while picking up a strikeout.
In the ninth, Sergio Romo gave up a leadoff double in the ninth to Renato Nunez and Castro followed with an RBI triple to make it 8-3. Jonathan Schoop hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-4 for the first out, then Romo struck out Akil Baddoo for the second out and former A’s Robbie Grossman flew out to end the game.
Romo allowed two runs in the ninth but Melvin didn’t seem too concerned with his outing:
“[Romo] had a rocky one, one before but also pitched the eighth inning in a close game for us in Arizona day the before yesterday too so maybe just not getting ahead, maybe not mixing his pitches as much at times. He is not used to coming into a game like that you know where you are ahead of six runs so he is usually more coming in has to be locked in right away.”
Canha led the team in walks, with three. Murphy, Olson, and Kemp all walked twice. Laureano and Murphy were the only A’s batters to not get a hit on Thursday, while Murphy and Olson were the only A’s players to not strike out. The A’s forced the Tigers to use five pitchers through six innings.
Frankie Montas (1-1, 8.31 ERA) will take the mound Friday for the second game of the four-game series against the Detroit Tigers. José Ureña (0-2, 8.22 ERA) will look to record his first win. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m.
Every single player and coach wore the number 42 on Thursday in honor of Jackie Robinson. … Detroit Tigers new manager AJ Hinch stepped foot in Oakland for the first time since the Houston Astros cheating scandal. … Every A’s player drew a walk except for Matt Chapman and Stephen Piscotty. Jed Lowrie had his fifth consecutive multiple-hit game to match the longest streak of his career.
Simone McCarthy is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @SimoneMcCarthy0 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.