A’s Blanked By Tigers 3-0

DETROIT, MI - JULY 01: Nick Punto #1 of the Oakland Athletics wacthes the action from the dugout during the ninth inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on July 1, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Athletics 6-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI – JULY 01: Nick Punto #1 of the Oakland Athletics wacthes the action from the dugout during the ninth inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on July 1, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Athletics 6-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

By Kahlil Najar

DETROIT – The A’s can’t find a break against the Tigers. Yesterday it was the slam and today it was a pitcher making franchise history.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello became just the fourth pitcher in Tigers franchise history to throw a shutout without walking or striking out a batter, and the first since Dizzy Trout in 1944. He also had 17 groundball outs and 10 in the fly outs to become the first major-leaguer to accomplish that feat since Baltimore’s Jeff Ballard on Aug. 21, 1989.

“Our guys were swinging at strikes, but everything was moving,” said Oakland head coach Bob Melvin. “He’s got a good sinker and a good change-up, and now he’s mixing in a good breaking ball to keep you off balance. That’s just a very well-pitched game by him.”

Brandon Moss echoed Melvin’s sentiments, “I don’t think he was overpowering. He just went out and pitched a great ballgame. He threw a ton of strikes, ahead of almost everyone, mixing it up with offspeed pitches and kept the ball on the ground. He pitched his game, and it was a great game.”

Brad Mills who started for Oakland pitched a great game and went six innings and gave up six hits and struck out six. His only mistakes were in the bottom of the fourth and sixth when the Tigers were able to score three runs total and give them all they needed to secure the victory.

In the fourth after a Cabrera walk and a Martinez double, Torii Hunter was able to hit a grounder to short and drove in Cabrera to give the Tigers the 1-0 lead. In the sixth, Martinez hit his 10th homer of the year with Kinsier on base and made it a 3-0 game.

The A’s never sent more than four batters up to the plate in any inning and were only able to squeeze out three singles and a double the entire game.

Both teams head back at it tomorrow when the Tigers send up the most hated man in Oakland Justin Verlander against Oakland prodigal son Jesse Chavez, game time 10:08 am PST.

Tigers Stun Athletics in Grand Fashion

By Matthew Harrington

The Detroit Tigers may not always beat the Oakland Athletics, but the motor city kitties tend to find the most excruciating ways to do it. After bouncing Swingin’ A’s from the postseason in the last two campaigns, the American League Central leaders added another chapter of success against their West Coast foes Monday night at Comerica Park, converting a 4-1 deficit in the ninth inning into a walk-off grand slam for Rajai Davis and the Tigers (45-34).

With a decent lead in the ninth, Oakland A’s Manager Bob Melvin tabbed bullpen backend stalwart Sean Doolittle (1-3, 2.97) to sit the Tigers down for three final outs. Instead the A’s bench boss saw a surefire victory turned into a stunning defeat. Detroit came to the plate in attack mode against Doolittle, with Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila reaching base with no outs three pitches in to the left-hander’s night.

Doolittle found his footing, striking out Eugenio Suarez but failed to put Austin Jackson away on a full-count pitch. Instead Doolittle nibbled outside the strike zone to bring former Athletic Rajai Davis to the plate representing the winning run. Davis patiently took the first-pitch delivery from Doolittle for a ball, then crushed a belt-high breaking ball deep to left field about ten feet from foul pole for his sixth home run of the season. Davis made reliever Blaine Hardy (101, 2.89 ERA) the winner, handing the 27-year-old his first Major League win

Doolittle saw his scoreless inning streak snapped at 26 1/3 innings Saturday in Miami, blowing his second save of the season after allowing a Casey McGehee single to tie the game at 6-6. With a second blown save Monday night, he now has failed to shut the door in two-straight games after going the first 38 games of the season with only one missed opportunity. Since taking over the closer’s role for a struggling Jim Johnson, the first baseman-turned-reliever has collected 11 saves in 2014.

The A’s (51-31) looked securely en route to their fifth-straight win after taking a commanding 4-1 lead in the eighth inning. Oakland and Detroit entered the inning tied 1-1 after strong performances from A’s starter Scott Kazmir and his counterpart Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez opened the frame getting Yoenis Cespedes to bounce a grounder to short, but Suarez threw the ball away on the play. Brandon Moss made Detroit pay for the mistake by lacing an RBI double to left, chasing Sanchez from the game with no outs in the seventh. The 2013 ERA leader allowed the two earned runs on eight hits with only a pair of strikeouts (including the 1,000th of his career) but exited in line for the loss.

Joba Chamberlain fared far worse in relief of Sanchez, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base, walking Josh Donaldson before yielding a single to Stephen Vogt to load the bases. A visit to the mound by Tigers Pitching coach Jeff Jones proved only a brief respite for Chamberlain, as Lowrie took the fifth pitch of the next at-bat to left for a two-run single to stake the A’s to a commanding 4-1 lead.

Lowrie knocked in the A’s first run of the game on an RBI single of Sanchez in the top of the sixth, but 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera responded in the home half of the inning by ripping a solo home run off Kazmir to left field, the 14th long ball of the season for the back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player.

Kazmir would then walk J.D. Martinez before exiting the game two pitches in to the next batter. Kazmir appeared to suffer tightness in his lead leg after bouncing the first pitch to Nick Castellanos well in front of the plate. After a brief visit from Melvin and trainer, the southpaw stayed in the game for one last pitch. After seeing his pitcher grimace on the pitch, Melvin instantly jumped up to pull his ace from the game.

After the game, Melvin stated that Kazmir was fine and the quick trigger was precautionary. Kazmir also departed his last start against the New York Mets on Tuesday earlier than expected, surrendering seven earned runs over three innings of a 10-1 shelling in Flushing Meadows. Aside from the one blip, Kazmir has been rock solid as the anchor of the A’s rotation, potentially in line to make this season’s All-Star team after going 9-3 with a 2.66 ERA in his first 16 starts for the green and gold.

The A’s won’t have an easy road bouncing back, as they’ll face the Tigers’ surpise of 2014 Rick Porcello (10-4, 3.41) in the second game of the three-game series. Oakland sends lefty Brad Mills to the mound in his first start since getting his first win since 2012, outdueling Zack Wheeler and the Mets last Wednesday.

One Dollar Buys A’s a Split in New York

By Matthew Harrington

In a reversal of fortunes from Tuesday’s 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the New York Mets, the Oakland Athletics shelled promising youngster Zack Wheeler early on Wednesday to split the a two-game series at Citi Field. Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss homered for Oakland in the 8-5 contest while Yoenis Cespedes went 3-for-4 with a three-run double to give starter pitcher Brad Mills his first win with the green and gold despite a late comeback bid by the Metropolitans (36-42).

The A’s (48-30) scored twice in the first inning off Wheeler on Moss’ team-leading (along with Josh Donaldson) 18th long ball of the season that came with two outs and a runner on base. A four-run second, highlighted by Cespedes’ bases-loaded double, wrapped up the night for Wheeler (3-8, 4.45 ERA). The former San Francisco Giants draft pick, acquired by New York in the 2011 Carlos Beltran trade, went only two innings. He allowed a season-high six earned runs in his first start since going the distance in a 1-0 shutout over Miami on June 19th.

A Coco Crisp solo shot, his sixth round tripper of the campaign, off Dana Eveland put Oakland up 7-0 in the fourth while a Mills double play ball plated Josh Reddick from third base for the A’s eighth run and final run in the sixth frame.

While Wheeler scuffled, Mills thrived in his second start since replacing the injured Drew Pomeranz in the rotation. While he was tagged with a no decision in Oakland’s 4-2 win over the Red Sox last Thursday, Mills (1-0, 4.35) picked up his first win in the Big Leagues since 2012.

The man supposedly purchased for one dollar from the Milwaukee Brewers on June 17th went 6 1/3, allowing only three runs. All three tallies came on the first pitch of a pinch-hit at-bat for Lucas Duda which resulted in a three-run shot that chased him from the game.

Dan Otero finished off the seventh, but set-up man Luke Gregerson scuffled with his inning of work, allowing a two-run homer to former Athletic Chris Young, the chief culprit in Tuesday’s thrashing after mashing two dingers. Sean Doolittle struck out the side in the ninth to seal the 8-5 win for his 11th save of the season.

On Thursday, the A’s receive a second dose of respite this week after having a day off Monday to make the trek from Oakland to the East Coast. They’ll have a day off in Miami before opening a three-game weekend set against the Marlins Friday in Oakland’s first visit to Miami’s new ballpark which opened in 2012. Right-hander Jesse Chavez takes the hill for the Athletics while the Marlins counter with righty Anthony DeSclafani and his 7.59 ERA.