The Oakland A’s starter Cole Irvin throws to the Detroit Tigers at the Oakland Coliseum on Sat Apr 17, 2021 (AP News photo)
Detroit 0 – 5 – 0
Oakland 7 – 8 – 0
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND–Last night’s game was good news for Athletics fans. The team also had some good off field news. Stephen Piscotty went on on paternity leave. We shall miss him in the outfield. We shall miss him at the bat. But he and MLB have their priorities straight here, and let’s honor them for that.
Taking Piscotty’s place on the roster was Vimael Machín, the versatile rule 5 pick from 2020, who spelled Jed Lowrie at second this afternoon. He can play all positions except pitcher and catcher
Starting on the mound, hoping to extend the A’s six game winning streak, was left handed Cole Irvin, hoping to improve on his 0-2,7.45 record with the A’s this season. He brought with him to the mound a four game losing streak, dating back to May 22 of 2019. His last win had occurred five days earlier. He was with the Phillies back then.
Irvin’s counterpart for the Tigers, the right handed Casey Mize—a baseball name if ever there was one—presented more formidable numbers, 1-0,0.82). He throws very effective heat. In his seven games as a rookie last year, his opponents managed to squeak out a batting average of .136 against that pitch.
Of course, the 22 at bats on which that figure was calculated is not a convincing sample size. Still, forewarned is forearmed, especially if we’re talking about four seamers. By the way, Mize was the number one overall pick in 2018 draft.
For all that, the Athletics jumped off to an early lead in their half of the first when Matt Olson delivered a 96 mph four seamer deep into the right field stands. Matt Chapman followed that with a triple that almost left the park but bounded off the Southwest Airlines sign just to the left of the 367 foot marker. Those booming shots had come with two outs, so Mitch Moreland’s grounder to shortstop Willi Castro, playing in the shift, ended the threat,
The A’s kept pouring it on in the second episode. With two down, Machín celebrated his return to the show by singling to left. Aramis García then blasted a 3-2 slider into the State Farm advertisement between the 362 and 388 feet signs in left center field for his first home run as an A. Mark Canha cleared that sign on the next pitch, putting Oakland on top, 4-0. It was his third dinger of the season.
The Tigers seemed ready to pounce back into the game in the top of the fifth. With two men out, their number nine hitter, JaCoby Jones, hit a single to right, followed by Robbie Grossman’s seeing eye safety to left. Both men moved up on a wild pitch during Niko Goodrum’s AB, a ball that brought the count to 3-2. Irvin got him on a called third strike, a 93 mph sinker.
Oakland tacked on another run in the fifth when Chapman beat out the relay on an 4-6-3 double play attempt that brought Canha, who’d been hit by a pitch and reached third on an Olson single, home with the home team’s fifth tally.
Mize set the A’s down in order in the fifth, and that ended his work day. He had allowed five runs, all earned, on seven hits, two of them for the distance. He struck out four with no walks but two hit batters. 63 of his 95 offerings either were in the strike zone or swung at. His replacement was Daniel Norris, who allowed a hit but nothing else, in his one-inning stint, followed in the seventh by Joe Jiménez.
Bob Melvin removed Irvin, who had pitched admirably, after his sixth shutout inning. His balance sheet included four hits against six Ks with nary a walk, although he did hit one batter. He threw 93 pitches, of which only 30 were balls and was in line for the win when J.B.Wendelken replaced him.
Wendelken did well in relief for Irvin, setting Detroit down with only one baserunner, but Jiménez issued enough walks to allow two runs without a hit or error. The second of those runs was charged to Alex Lange, whose first pitch, with the bases filled with inherited runners, was wild.
Still, he got the third the third out in the seventh, and Detroit escaped further damage, as if their hosts hadn’t already inflicted enough of that on them. Lange remained in the game, closing the A’s out in the eighth.
Wendelken and Deolis Guerra pitched an inning each, and they were sharp and effective, Guerra especially so, dispensing with the top of the Detroit lineup 1-2-3 on a dozen pitches, including a strike out. Jordan Weems closed the books on the Tigers in the ninth.
The win went to Irvin. He’s now 1-2, 4.60. Mize took the loss, which left record his record at 1-1, 3.38.
Two shutouts in a row. Who’da thunk it?z
The series closes tomorrow, with game time at 1:07. The probable starters are Chris Bassitt (1-2, 4.96) for the A’s and Matthew Boyd (2-1, 1.86) for Detroit.