Well, that game was going along pretty nicely until the end. I have so many notes on the minutae of this game and at this point they don't even matter. The Tigers won, fair and square, they beat our best, and tip your cap and...never mind. This game completely sucked and the A's just gave away a win against their arch-nemesis, the team that ended their last three playoff runs, when they could have ruined their World Series reunion and made a statement to start the series in Detroit. Instead of that elation we got the same old, same old failure against the Tigers.
That being said, this ain't the playoffs, this is still a great team at 51-31, and the A's live to fight another day. It's not that serious. But it still stings, dammit.
This game promised to be a reprisal of the epic ptichers' duel on May 28th between Scott Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez, in which Josh Donaldson walked off Tigers' closer Joe Nathan to win the game 3-1 for the Athletics. And it was, right down to the finish, in which ex-Athletic Rajai Davis sent Sean Doolittle and the A's to the showers with a walk off grand slam to win it for the Tigers.
Tonight, neither starter allowed a run, but there was a lot of traffic on the basepaths. Sparking defensive plays on both sides saved some hits. Twice, the A's had a runner picked off, and both times Stephen Vogt in his first ever MLB start at first base botched the play (although on replay it seemed like the A's had Rajai Davis out). Those plays did not come back to bite the team and the A's escaped without further damage.
The A's threatened immediately in the first inning but could not score. Coco Crisp smacked a leadoff double. John Jaso popped out and then Sanchez hit Yoenis Cespedes with a pitch up and in on the hands. However, the A's couldn't capitalize. After Coco moved to third, Josh Donaldson smacked a sharp grounder up the middle. New Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez made a nice diving stop to rob an RBI and tossed to Ian Kinsler for the force at second.
The game featured a number of long flyballs by both teams and not much happened for a while. Of note, Scott Kazmir struck out Miguel Cabrera to end the third inning. Cabrera started barking and yelling at Kazmir and anyone else who could hear. Kazmir quick-pitched Cabrera, going to a slide step over his usual leg kick, and Cabrera did not like it. He would later get his revenge.
In the top of the 6th, the A's scratched and clawed their way to a run on singles by Cespedes, Brandon Moss, a flyball by Donaldson and an RBI single off the bat of Jed Lowrie, who looks to be climbing out of his June swoon. 1-0 A's. Of course, Miguel Cabrera tied it with a solo shot off a Kazmir change up in the bottom half. Kazmir left shortly thereafter with cramps in the 87 degree heat (plus humidity!). He's fine and will make his next start.
Sanchez left the game after seven innings and just one run allowed and gave way to Joba Chamberlain.
Suarez, after stealing a run in the first, gave the A's new life in the eighth inning. Cespedes reached on his throwing error to lead off. Moss cranked a double to score Yoenis. Josh Donaldson then walked and Stephen Vogt singled to load the bases. Jed Lowrie knocked a solid single to drive in two and the A's were in business. 4-1, three runs in, and still no outs. However, the rally was quickly snuffed when Chamberlain left the game. Phil Coke came in to pitch to Alberto Callaspo. Callaspo nearly hit into a triple play, barely beating out the throw to first after he sizzled a grounder right to 3B Nick Castellanos who stepped on the bag and fired to Kinsler at second. Kinsler did everything he could to turn it to first but was a hair late.
Never mind, though. After stellar relief pitching by Dan Otero and Luke Gregerson and the aforementioned clutch hitting by Lowrie, the A's headed to the bottom of the ninth leading 4-1 (Cespedes left the game after the eighth with an apparent tweak of his hamstring. It remains to be seen whether that's serious).
Sean Doolittle was in to face the bottom of the order for the Tigers. You can set everything up perfectly, but it's never easy.
Single, single, strikeout, a nine-pitch walk to Austin Jackson (riding an 0-14 streak), and the bases were juiced for Rajai Davis against his former team. Davis is known to be able to turn on any fastball, but Doolittle's best pitch is the fastball. He did not trust the fastball. The second slider was a cement mixer full of meatballs and was launched over the left field wall for a walk-off slam. I try not to play Captain Hindsight, but I did not expect a second slider. With a 3 run lead, why not try the fastball? Give up a couple runs, you still escape, three, you're still playing. But it had to be the slider, the hanging slider.
Cespedes extended his hitting streak to 14 games, Jed Lowrie came alive with some solid hits and three RBI, Vogt is now hitting a torrid .343 after his 3-4 night (with a stolen base for good measure), Dan Otero got five outs on 15 pitches to get it to Luke Gregerson in the 8th.
It wasn't all bad. But with that ending it was pretty much 99% bad so let's just move on. shall we? The beauty of baseball is that there's another game tomorrow.