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Game #114: Detwiler Dominant in A’s Debut

What is happening in Oakland? With an entire starting rotation on the DL, Detwiler is the latest A’s pitcher to shut down the Orioles. A’s win 1-0.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics
Love that pitcherface.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

We all saw that one coming, right?

The A’s got yet another miraculously good pitching performance from the unlikeliest of sources. Just when it felt like this season was in a tailspin, the A’s have pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Ross Detwiler pitched 8 shutout innings in his Oakland debut and the A’s once again shut down the powerhouse Orioles by a score of 1-0. That makes three consecutive 1-run wins for Oakland and one massively deflating series for the Orioles.

What ended up being the most important play of the game came in the top of the first inning. Adam Jones continued his ridiculously hot series with a leadoff single and immediately it felt like we knew what to expect from Detwiler for the night. Jones advanced to second on a wild pitch. Hardy launched a ball over the head of right fielder Danny Valencia, and Jones, playing aggressively, tried to score after having to stay near second base in case the ball was caught. His aggressiveness proved to be ill-advised, as Jones was gunned down at the plate by the incredible 1-2 combo of Valencia in right field and Muncy at second base. Isn’t 2016 grand? Jones was initially ruled safe but the call was quickly overturned after replay revealed that he failed to get his front foot down on the slide. It’s good to know it isn’t just Semien who does it.

This seemed rather innocuous, but the out at home ended up being the only chance the Orioles had all night. The play was also representative of their downfall: they were overly aggressive, and Ross Detwiler proved crafty enough to take advantage.

For the rest of the night, Detwiler would give up a lot of hard contact, but no runs. He was incredibly economical with his pitch count, not walking a single batter in his 8 innings and hardly ever even reaching a 3-ball count. Detwiler managed two strikeouts, with the first not coming until the 6th inning. He used the Orioles’ hitters aggressiveness against them, throwing junk pitches out of the zone for swinging strikes and inducing a lot ground balls. He also gave up a lot of line drives and his defense bailed him out with a LOT of line outs, but one way or another, he was able to dance around for 8 innings without allowing a powerhouse offense to score. It was part good luck, part crafty pitching, part quality defense, but one way or another it worked.

Well, mostly quality defense at least. Max Muncy deserves a call-out for two terrible plays. In the 2nd inning, Muncy botched a tailor-made double play ball, fumbling it but fortunately still managing to record the out at first. In the 5th, with a runner on first, Adam Jones mercifully hit a pop-up that just reached the outfield grass. Muncy misjudged it and blew the catch, but Valencia came to the rescue and darted forward to field the ball and flip to second for what will ultimately be ruled a fielders choice. Danny Valencia for full-time right fielder, amirite? (but seriously please no)

On the other side of the coin, Yonder Alonso had an excellent night and drove in the only run of the game. He had a beautiful bunt single to brother-in-law Manny Machado in the 1st, the double in the 3rd to go back-to-back with Semien and drive in the lone run, and a walk against the best closer in the game, Zach Britton. He also flashed yet more great defense at first and just had an all-around great game.

It’s a bizarre win, but we’ll take it. I don’t think anybody would have called that Ross Detwiler would put together one of the most effective pitching performances of the season for Oakland - and it isn’t just because he wasn’t on our team then. He fought hard and used all of his pitches effectively, and with some good defense, positioning, and luck, the A’s only needed the one run. After 3 one-run wins against Baltimore, the A’s play the final game of the series tomorrow at 12:35.