By Charlie O. Mallonee
OAKLAND, Calif. — The announced attendance at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday night was 33,668. They came to see the hometown Oakland Athletics, who started the game versus the Detroit Tigers in second place in the American League West and in the American League Wild Card playoff race. The big crowd also came to see a “Harry Potter” inspired fireworks show that would follow the contest.
The fans were treated to another A’s win as they beat the Tigers 2-1. It was the A’s fifth consecutive win as they have won every game of this current homestand. Oakland is now 20 games over .500 as they improved to 66-46 with 50 games left to play in the regular season.
The one question this reporter had after the game was – how many of the 33,668 paying customers really enjoyed the A’s win? It was a bit like taking a ride with Mr. Peabody and Sherman in the Waybac Machine because it was not a typical 2018 MLB game. Strong pitching and good defense dominated the game with some hitting highlights thrown in for good measure.
It was my kind of game, but I am an “old guy.” I love a pitcher’s duel. I do not have to see a half dozen home runs to feel like I have been to a great game. I hope the veteran fans in the crowd on Saturday night helped the younger fans appreciate what they were seeing. It is a side of baseball I hope we never lose an appreciation for as fans.
There were home runs
All of the A’s runs came via the long ball. Matt Chapman led off the third inning by hitting a 0-2 pitch from Jordan Zimmerman to straightaway center field for his 14th home run of the season to tie the game at 1-1. After Jed Lowrie lined out to center field, Khris Davis stepped into the batter’s box to face Zimmerman. Davis “crushed” his 30th home run of the year into the left field seats off the first pitch delivered to him. That gave the A’s a 2-1 lead which as it would turn out would be all they would need to win the game.
Davis became the sixth player in A’s history to hit 30-plus home runs in three straight seasons. The last Athletic to accomplish the feat was Miguel Tejada in 2000-02.
Pitching was very strong
Edwin Jackson continues to be an amazing performer on the mound for the A’s. He worked 6.1 innings giving up one run (unearned) off five hits. Jackson struck out three Tigers and walked just one. He earned the victory which upped his record to 3-2 on the season with a 2.87 ERA. Not bad for a pitcher who started off in Triple-A while trying to get back to “the Bigs.”
Lou Trivino came on to relieve Jackson in the seventh inning and gave up just one hit and no runs in 1.2 innings on the mound. If you are an A’s opponent and are trailing late in the game, you watch Trivino work magic on the hill knowing that in the ninth inning the worst is yet to come.
And, the worst did enter the game in the ninth as Blake Treinen took the ball to close out the contest. It was not a perfect inning as he did allow one hit while striking out two batters. Treinen now has 28 saves for the year to go with his 0.95 ERA.
The Tigers’ Jordan Zimmerman lost his fourth decision in a row. He has not won a game since July 6 when he beat Texas. Zimmerman was 4-0 before the losing streak began.
Zimmerman threw 6.1 innings giving up two runs (both earned, both home runs) while striking out six and walking just three. Frankly, Zimmerman pitched well enough to win on almost any given night except this one.
Drew VerHagen pitched 1.2 innings of perfect relief for Detroit, but the Tigers could not produce any more runs.
In a 2-1 game, there are many plays by the defense that should be talked about, but we are only going to mention two in this story.
The two plays that will be referred to were both made by rookie outfielder Ramon Laureano, who played in his second major league game on Saturday night. He was supposed to have the night off, but Mark Canha came down ill and Laureano was pressed into service.
In the top of the fifth inning with two out, the Tigers’ Mike Gerber hit a “flare” into left-center field. Laureano ran to his right, stretched out and put a glove on the ball but it popped out of his glove. Gerber saw the ball get away and immediately kept running for second base. Laureano jumped up and threw the ball to second baseman Jed Lowrie who put the tag down on Gerber who over-slid the bag in his haste to get the extra base. That was the third out of the inning and the crowd expressed their appreciation for the rookie in a very vocal manner.
Jeimer Candelario led off the top of the seventh inning for Detroit. He hit a 2-2 pitch from Jackson into right-center field that looked like it would fall in for a base hit. Laureano ran hard to his left then went into a controlled slide and made a great catch for the first out of the inning. Yes, the crowd went wild.
Quick notes for hardcore fans
- Quick game – 2 hours and 30 minutes
- A’s six hits – 10 strikeouts
- Tigers’ seven hits – six strikeouts
- Runners In Scoring Position
A’s 0-for-10 (Wow!)
- Team Left on Base
The A’s will go for the series sweep on Sunday when they will send RHP Trevor Cahill (3-2, 3.39 ERA) to the hill to face the Tigers’ LHP Francisco Liriano (3-5, 4.62 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM PST.