By Morris Phillips
Veterans making their debut with a new club are more likely to go well than a rookie getting his MLB debut in the face of a powerful, above average big league offense.
That in a nutshell was the story of the A’s-Angels series finale in Anaheim that went to the A’s 8-3 on Sunday.
The A’s trio of trade deadline acquisitions–Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte–combined for six hits and three stolen bases. Reid Detmers, 22, the Angels highly touted pitching prospect with just 13 professional appearances under his belt, allowed two homers and six earned runs in taking the loss in his big league debut.
“Obviously, I’ve been dreaming of that moment since I was a little kid,” Detmers said. “Obviously, it didn’t go as planned. But that’s baseball. Just got to bounce back. I’m looking forward to my next start. I’m just enjoying the moment right now.”
Detmers struggled with his fastball command, couldn’t get the proper touch on his offspeed pitches, and saw his entire afternoon blow up in the third inning when Matt Olson hit a three-run homer followed by Gomes’ two-run shot. That wiped out a 3-0 Angels lead and sent the home team, desperate to change the tenor of the division rivalry, to a 12th loss to the A’s in 16 meetings in 2021.
“The slider and the curveball kind of became moot,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He just could not land them where he wanted to and then it put them in good hitting counts, and they got him.”
The A’s early rally allowed Daulton Jeffries to ditch the jitters, expected as the A’s No. 4 prospect was making just his second major league appearance with the first coming last season in a COVID-protect environment, which translated was an empty stadium without opposing fans looking to throw you off your stride. Veteran catcher Gomes did the trick there as well, settling Jeffries.
“Yan came up to me and said, ‘Hey, your stuff is good. Just take a little more time between pitches and breathe,’” Jeffries said. “My mind was relaxed but my body was ready to go, so I just had to create a little balance.”
Jeffries retired eight of the final 10 hitters he faced, and a quartet of A’s relievers took it from there. Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, newly acquired Andrew Chafina and Sergio Romo each handled an inning, combing to allow the Angels just two hits, and no more than one baserunner at any juncture, ideal for stopping a team intent on a comeback dead in its tracks.
Meanwhile, the A’s added on with Gomes’ RBI single in the fifth, and Jed Lowrie’s single in the seventh that knocked in two runs. If Gomes, acquired from the Nationals, sounds like the second coming of “Crash” Davis from Bull Durham from his multifaceted contributions on Sunday, he’s not. But the 34-year old catcher with his fourth club in his 10th major league season is having a resurgent season, clubbing 10 home runs and batting .274 in 63 games with the Nats, and one game with the A’s. Gomes has now hit double-digit homers in seven of his 10 seasons, and will likely be a quality backup to Sean Murphy behind the plate.
Marte provided three hits–and three stolen bases–just what an offense that’s capable but has been prone to droughts needs. The A’s are below average in batting average, and prone to strikeouts without being overly capable of drawing walks. Marte helps in all those areas, currently hitting .306 with 32 walks drawn in 63 games.
Harrison contributed a hit, but wowed at second base where he turned a pair of double plays on balls hit by Shohei Ohtani. That marked the first time Ohtani’s been doubled up twice in a game this season, and caught the eye of manager Bob Melvin.
“Those are pretty good double plays, you don’t see Ohtani hit into too many double plays,” Melvin said.
The A’s return to the Coliseum on Tuesday for a meeting with the Padres, and a glut of off-days in the upcoming 10 days will determine whether Jeffries gets another turn in the rotation or James Kaprelian’s health improves enough for him to reassume his position in the rotation.