by Charlie O. Mallonee
Detroit — The Oakland Athletics have been the worst road team in all of baseball several times this season. They have been strong defenders of their home field, but the road has been their nemesis. Since a major league team plays 81 of their 162 games on the road, learning to win in the other guy’s park is mandatory.
The Athletics embarked on this nine-game road trip to Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit needing to prove to themselves that they could win on the road, and that is exactly what they did.
Wednesday in Detroit was a crowing effort for the A’s
The A’s had won the first two games of the series in Detroit. They had compiled a 5-3 record on the road. With Wednesday being a day/get-away game to head back to the Bay Area, it would have been very easy to have a mental let down and just go through the motions to get out of town in order to get home.
The Athletics did not do that. They played tough. They played solid defense behind their starting pitcher Daniel Mengden. The Athletics worked to get runs when they could and they won the game.
They also swept the three-game series at Comerica Park and finished the nine-game road trip with a record of 6-3.
Manager Bob Melvin was a happy man after the win on Wednesday
Pitching dictated the ultimate outcome of the game
Athletics starter Daniel Mengden threw seven shutout innings and extended his scoreless inning streak to 16-innings which is the longest for any A’s pitcher this season. He gave up no runs on seven hits. One of the big keys to his win was the fact that he did not issue a walk. Mengden struck out four Tigers. His record is now 2-1 with an ERA of 3.30.
Ryan Dull came to relieve Mengden in the eighth inning and set the Tigers down in order. It looked like the final inning would be uneventful.
Dull came out for the ninth because Melvin was hoping to rest his overworked bullpen. Dull walked the first batter he faced — Efren Navarro. Mikie Mahtook then hit a 1-1 pitch from Dull for a double that moved Navarro up to third. Pitching coach Scott Emerson came out for a visit before Dull went back to work.
Dull struck out the next batter he faced — pinch-hitter Tyler Collins — for the first out of the inning. Andrew Romine then stepped into the box and hit a single to right that drove Navarro and Mahtook home to make it a 3-2 game.
That was all for Dull as Bob Melvin brought Liam Hendriks in from the pen. There was also an injury delay as catcher Bruce Maxwell had to come out of the game after taking a ball off the mask. He was replaced by Phegley.
Hendricks was able to get Jose Iglesias to ground into a force out that erased Romine and left Iglesias at first on the fielder’s choice. With Alex Presley batting, Iglesias moved up to second on a wild pitch. Presley struck out swinging to end the game.
Hendricks was credited with a save but more importantly he put up a “Goose Egg” meaning he did not allow a run to score.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez pitched six-innings and allowed just one run (earned) on three hits. He walked three A’s and struck out eight. Sanchez threw an incredible 115 pitches (68 strikes). He was also tagged with the loss, so his record falls to 3-5.
The big problem for Detroit was their bullpen failed in its effort to throw “Goose Eggs”. Daniel Stumpf took over Sanchez in the seventh inning and gave up the two-run home to Marcus Semien that was the ultimate difference maker in the game.
Joe Jimenez and Zac Reininger each worked an inning of relief for Detroit and both posted “Goose Eggs” in the run column.
Marcus Semien was the man for Oakland in the big win on Wednesday. He not only hit the game deciding two-run home run in the seventh inning, but Semien posted all three of the Athletics RBI. In the series, he went 4-for-10 and scored four runs.
Catcher Bruce Maxwell went 2-for-4 in the game with a double and two runs scored. He is now hitting .315 in day game versus .205 under the lights. Guess who is catching the day games? Also, the initial reports are that Maxwell does not appear to have a concussion from the foul tip that caused him to leave the game in the ninth inning.
The Athletics scored three runs on six hits and left seven men on base. Their record improved to 69-83.
Nicholas Castellanos hit a single in the sixth inning which extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games. He hit .346 against the A’s in 2017.
Efren Navarro hit a single in the second inning that upped his hitting streak to five games. He now batting .400 — 6-for-15 — with a double and triple during the streak.
The Tigers posted two runs off nine hits and left eight runners on base. They also committed two errors. Detroit’s record now stands at 62-90.
The Athletics left for the Bay Area right after the game and will have Thursday off. The A’s begin a three-game series in Oakland with the Rangers on Friday night. RHP Kendall Graveman (5-4, 4.39) is scheduled to start for the Athletics. Texas has not named their starter.
The Tigers continue their homestand on Thursday as they begin a four-game series with the Twins.