If there was a time to take advantage of a struggling ball club, now was the time...
After dropping two-of-three games in Toronto, the Athletics looked to bounce back against the Tigers -- as they opened up a four-game series in Detroit. Unfortunately, the dormant Tigers offense erupted against Kendall Graveman -- tagging him for six runs and 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings, en route to a 7-3 loss.
Prior to tonight's contest, the Tigers couldn't hit their way out of a paper bag; as demonstrated by a four-game sweep against the World Series champion Kansas City Royals -- where Detroit's sluggers posted a combined .144 batting average over their last five games.
Although, Miguel Cabrera and company managed to tear that paper bag into shreds... then turn it into confetti... while innocently tossing that confetti in the air as Cabrera, Mike Aviles, and Victor Martinez frolicked around the bases as they reached home plate. It was truly a disastrous sight...
Through three starts Tigers' starter Jordan Zimmermann had a perfect 3-0 record with an equally impressive 0.00 ERA in 19 1/3 inning, and that trend continued, as the Auburndale, Wisconsin native quickly retired the A's first three hitters. Graveman hoped to mimic his counterpart's frame, and did just that by setting Jose Iglesias and Justin Upton down on strikes. Everything was moving along swimmingly, until Cabrera tapped a 3-1 fastball over the right field fence and the rest was history.
Zimmermann matched his first inning performance with a identical one in the second, and so did Graveman when Aviles drove in Nick Castellanos on a two-out bloop single to center field; giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead heading into the top of the third.
Khris Davis got the ball rolling for the Athletics as he smacked a seeing-eye single to left field, and the A's appeared to be in business when Yonder Alonso stepped up to the plate and scorched a liner to the right side of the infield. However, that scorching liner seamlessly found the glove of the second baseman Aviles -- who gingerly tossed the feed to Iglesias for an instant 4-6-3 double play, followed by a fly out to right field to end the frame.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Josh Reddick lined a 2-2 fastball to centerfield and Jed Lowrie responded with a single of his own, after Tyler Collins misplayed a groundball and it subsequently was deflected by Zimmermann, allowing Reddick to advance to third-base. Stephen Vogt stepped into the batter's box and like Alonso, smoked a liner to the right side of the infield -- that unfortunately found the glove of Aviles once again.
Both starters put zeros on the board, but it was Graveman who unraveled yet again as Cabrera launched another home run -- this time of the three-run variety to right-field, and it was a no-doubter off the bat. The same can be said for Martinez who jumped on a hanging 85 MPH change-up and presumably lifted it into the seats, for a commanding 6-0 lead.
After this ordeal, Liam Hendriks took over for Graveman and escaped the frame by striking out Collins on a 3-2 fastball; yet again setting the stage for the Athletics' offense in the sixth. Marcus Semien began the frame with a double to left-field and Billy Burns responded by smacking an RBI single to right-field. That was the first run Zimmermann has surrendering all season, and it stayed that way -- despite Reddick's single shortly after, Lowrie and Vogt couldn't capitalize as they grounded out to end the frame.
The Tigers managed to tack on another run in the sixth, but that's all of the scoring they would put up for the rest of the night, and it turned out to be enough.
The green and gold continued their success in the seventh as Coco Crisp immediately reached first-base on a missed-catch error by Zimmermann, who dropped an underhanded throw from the first-baseman Cabrera. The struggling Alonso quickly broke through with a towering double into the right-centerfield gap, allowing Crisp to score easily from third, cutting the A's deficit down to five.
Semien followed with a ground out to short, but Alonso advanced to third-base with two-away and as a result -- that would be the night for Zimmermann after surrendering a walk to Burns. And that was it for Zimmermann who tossed 6 2/3 innings of respectable baseball, despite the fact that he allowed seven hits and struck out one Athletic. Blaine Hardy took the mound and faced the pinch-hitting Mark Canha who singled to left, and that would be it for Oakland.
The biggest highlight of night for the Athletics was the major league debut of reliever Andrew Triggs who was called-up from Triple-A Nashville this morning. The 27-year-old without question has put up remarkable numbers with his time in the minor leagues; and did not disappoint as the USC graduate retired the first three batters he faced in the form of a: strikeout, pop out, and line out. His curveball and slider were down-right nasty, as he baffled the Tigers' sluggers on 14 pitches.
Billy Butler entered the game in the top of the ninth, by smoking a first-pitch line-drive to centerfield -- but that's all the A's could muster, as Oakland's sluggers could not advance Butler from second (and they tried).
Luckily for the green and gold, tomorrow is another day; and a series split against the Tigers would deem this East Coast road-trip a surprising success.
Lets not give up A's fans! There's a lot of baseball left to be played, so lets go get them tomorrow!