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Game #23: A's fall to Tigers 7-3 to split road trip

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The Oakland Athletics ended their longest road trip of the season with a 5-5 record as they fell 7-3 to the Detroit Tigers in the getaway day contest. The Athletics head back home to Oakland for Sean Manaea's debut Friday night vs. the division rival Houston Astros.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

On a cold northeast day, the A's lost 7-3 to the Detroit Tigers behind a rough outing from Chris Bassitt.  Bassitt yielded all 7 runs (all earned) and the Athletics' bats did not make the most of a season high 9 walks.  The loss dropped what was a very promising 10 game road trek to an acceptable-but-not-exciting .500 trip, and, overall, the A's fell below .500 to 11-12 on the year.  With the rest of the AL West idle, the A's fell to 4th in the tight division, 1.5 games back from the division-leading Texas Rangers.

The story of the game in the cold, damp Detroit day, was that the A's failed to get a quality outing from their starter and had to rely on their overtaxed bullpen for batch innings yet again.  Bassitt lasted just 3.2 innings, with a final line of 7 ER on 10 hits,  3 BB and 1 HR, while striking out 5.  Those numbers are not pretty.

The Tigers scoring was bunched completely in the 3rd and 4th innings.

After trading two quiet innings, the A's plated the first run of the game in the top of the 3rd, as a two out walk by Billy Burns was followed by a Burns steal, another walk by Jed Lowrie, another steal by Burns - this time of 3rd base - and a clutch two out RBI knock by Josh Reddick. With two on and two outs, Khris Davis popped out to end the inning.

Unfortunately, the bottom of frame 3 started with back-to-back doubles to Adam Gose and Ian Kinsler.  Bassitt then yielded a walk to J.D. Martinez, before giving up an RBI single to newly-hot star Miguel Cabrera.  With two runs in, two on and 0 outs, Bassitt gave up a fairly shallow fly out to left fielder Mark Canha.  Despite Martinez not originally tagging on the play, it did end up resulting in a run as cut off hijinks, thanks to Cabrera tagging up to 2nd, caused a misplay, a run, and no 2nd out.  Not ideal defensive baseball.  The Tigers further capitalized via a Nick Castellanos two out double to make it 4-1 Detroit.  Bassitt got a K to finally end the inning, but the Tigers already secured enough runs to win.  Needless to say, it was not the finest half inning for the Athletics.

Stephen Vogt stepped up in the top of the 4th with a very deep leadoff jack, closing the score to 4-2, but the rest of the inning was for naught.

The bottom of the 4th closed out the Tigers' scoring and also Chris Bassitt's afternoon.  Jose Iglesias led off with a free pass and Gose (the 9 hitter) then rocked a 2 run home run to make it 6-2.  The final run was plated later that inning as Justin Upton drove in Ian Kinsler after a Kinsler walk and J.D. Martinez single.  This was the final batter faced of Bassitt's day and Fernando Rodriguez came on and K'ed Castellanos to limit the damage.

From this point, Rodriguez, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson worked the final innings (4.1 innings combined), with zero damage.  It remains clear that, aside from Liam Hendriks and a few Doolittle misses, the A's bullpen has been a very big plus through the first 23 games of the season, which is possibly the most refreshing positive of the season, thus far, after 2015's disastrous bullpen performance.

Despite a bushel of walks, the A's failed to score their 3rd run until the top of the 9th, as Burns doubled, Lowrie walked, and Davis hit a two out RBI single.  This would be the end of the scoring, as Vogt flied out to end the night.

The A's 10 game road trip, the longest road trip by games of the season, started off with a roar (4 straight wins including a sweep of the Yankees) and ended with a whimper (1-5 in the last 6 games).  Despite the rough ending, the 5-5 record is probably at or above what prior expectations for the trip would be and the A's come home firmly in the mix in the very tight AL West race, as four teams are within 1.5 games of each other.

The A's home stand is a key one, as the A's face division rivals Houston and Seattle in back-to-back three game sets.  With no day off, it means the games will represent games 11-16 without an off day and will require grit and energy from the relatively young team.

The most exciting news of the homecoming is Athletics top pitching prospect - and #1 overall prospect in your offseason AN Community Prospect List - Sean Manaea will be on the hill for his Major League debut.  Be sure to head on out to the ballpark and rally the A's to a win and see Sean Manaea begin a hopefully dominant big league career.  He only debuts once folks, tickets are available here.