By Charlie O. Mallonee @Charlieo1320
Oakland — The Oakland Athletics (83-59) did exactly what they had to do on Saturday night – beat up on a lesser opponent. The “Rooted in Oakland” crew demolished the lowly Detroit Tigers (42-99) by the score of 10-2. The Tigers have the worst record in all of Major League Baseball and have been eliminated from any possibility of playing in postseason in 2019.
The A’s realistically are destined to play in the AL Wild Card game. They want desperately to be the home team in that game. To be the home team, the A’s need wins and wins should come easier over teams that have losing records. It is truly a “survival of the fittest” environment from now until the end of the regular season.
The A’s have only four games remaining to play against a team with a winning record. They begin a four-game series in Houston on Monday night with the Astros who are tied with the Yankees for the best record in the majors at 93-50. Their other 16 games are with Detroit (1), Texas (6), Kansas City (3), LAA (2) and Seattle (4). The A’s must devour the weak in order to come out on top.
Chris Bassitt worked hard to earn a win
Bassitt struggled in the first two innings of the game on Saturday night. After giving up two hits in the top of first, Bassitt was bailed out by a 6-1-4 double play that is detailed later in this story.
In the top of the second, the A’s starter faced seven Detroit hitters. He gave up two runs off three hits and he hit a batter. The Tigers left two runners on base. Despite having some difficulties, Bassitt struck out three batters and appeared to be starting to find himself.
Bassitt would go on to pitch 6.0-innings giving up just the two runs (both earned) off eight hits. He walked none but did hit one Detroit batter. Bassitt struck out 11 Tigers in 6.0-innings on the mound. That is a career high for Bassitt and the most for an A’s pitcher in a game this season.
After the game, Bob Melvin said, “Bassitt often gets better as he goes along in a game. He also gave our bullpen a break by going six innings.”
Bassitt is now 10-5 on the season with a 3.64 ERA. This is the first time Oakland has had three 10-game winners since 2013 when they had five.
Wild Card Standings
The A’s now have sole possession of the second Wild Card slot in the American League. They are one game back of Tampa Bay (85-59) who is in the number one spot and would host the one-game playoff if the season ended today.
The Indians are 1.5-games behind the A’s for the second spot in the Wild Card race at 82-61. Boston is 7.0-games back and has an elimination number of 14. It would take a miracle and a massive collapse by the Rays, A’s or Indians for the Red Sox to become a part of the race.
Focus on the A’s
- Matt Olson went 4-for-4 in the game. He hit his 29th home run of the season in the fifth inning off Jordan Zimmerman on 1-2 pitch that sailed into the right-field seats. Olson also added three RBI to bring his total for the season to 73. He also extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
- Jurickson Profar matched his career high for home runs when he hit number 20 of the season in the second inning off Zimmerman. Profar is batting .340 over his last 15 games. He has also been very helpful to his team by being able to play both outfield and infield as needed.
- Matt Chapman hit his 32nd home of the season in the eighth inning which ties Eric Chavez for the most in a season by an Athletics third baseman.
- Oakland now has six players with 20-plus home runs which is a franchise record.
- A’s pitchers combined for a total of 19 strike outs on Saturday night – a season high.
Spotlight on Detroit
- Jordan Zimmerman allowed six earned runs for the first time since July 19. He previously had allowed a total of seven earned runs in four career starts against the A’s. Zimmerman is now 1-10 on the season.
- Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-4 in the game which gave him a team-leading 38th multiple-hit game for 2019. It was also the 804th multiple-hit game of his career tying him with Ivan Rodriguez for 39th-most in MLB history.
- Harold Castro had 4-for-4 game with the bat with two RBI for the Tigers. That tied his season high.
- The Tigers have not had a winning record versus the AL West since 2014. They are 53-112 against the division since 2015.
LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the ball for the A’s and make his second start of the season to close out this three-game series with the Tigers. He had a no-decision in first start of the season last Sunday in New York against the Yankees. The Tigers will counter with LHP Daniel Norris (3-11, 4.76 ERA). He had a no-decision in his last start on Tuesday in Kansas City.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 PM at the Oakland Coliseum.
Shouldn’t the infield fly rule have been called?
In the top of the first inning with runners at first and second and one out, the Tigers Christin Stewart hit an infield fly into foul territory on the third-base side. The wind then pushed the ball back into the field of play. Matt Chapman attempted to catch the ball but was unable to do so. Marcus Semien picked the ball up and tossed it to Bassitt who was covering third. The pitcher stepped on the bag and Harold Castro – the runner at second was called out. Bassitt then alertly threw the ball to Profar who stepped on second base and Miguel Cabrera – the runner at first was called out on what scored as a 6-1-4 double play.
As a former amateur umpire, I was immediately looking for one of the four umpires to have his right arm up in the air to indicate that the infield fly rule was in effect. I was shocked when no call such call was being made. So was Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire who immediately came out to discuss the situation with the Homeplate umpire – Dan Bellino.
The umpires explained that the infield fly rule is to be called when the ball can be caught with “ordinary effort”. The “men in blue” said in their opinion Chapman would have needed to use extraordinary effort to have made the catch of Stewart’s fly ball, so the infield fly rule did not apply.
In this reporter’s opinion (and as a former umpire), the umpiring crew was caught off guard when an apparent foul ball came back into fair territory.