Finally, finally, the A’s record matches the number of games they’ve played this season; finally, finally the A’s pick up the four-game sweep they were forced to abandon in Detroit all the way back in May, and for all the hype and fun the A’s—and the Coliseum—had with this away/home game, it ended in absolutely the quietest way ever, with a much-needed whimper, zero drama as the A’s collected the win they were due.
There is little doubt that mid-May was the turning point in the A’s season. Limping into Detroit after another two-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, the A’s reeled off three straight wins to open the Detroit weekend series, and looked on their way to pick up the rare four-game road sweep when the game was rudely interrupted. The Tigers graciously allowed the A’s to make up the game in this September series and here we are.
The A’s bullpen combination of Hendriks, Diekman and the surprise move of Wendelken, made possible by a Matt Chapman single and a Chad Pinder home run for extra insurance at 7-3, shut down the Tigers, retiring 9 out of the 10 batters they faced. The game was finished in snappy order; in under an hour, leaving the fans happy before even the main event.
Which did not live up to the billing as the offense went dead silent, recording one hit after the second inning, all the way to the eleventh, where the Tigers broke free and scored and the A’s got a single hit in their half. Don’t get me started on the 15 strikeouts.
It for all the world looked like after the A’s jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, they would cruise into another win, but this game took a turn as the Tigers mounted a comeback; scoring twice in the seven and twice in the eighth to tie the A’s.
It was so nice early too. After failing to score in the first despite a couple of hits, they loaded the bases in the second inning thanks to a Seth Brown single, the obligatory Khris Davis strikeout, a single by Jurickson Profar, a huge ovation for Ramon Laureano, returning after 5 weeks, to be greeted with a pitch hitting him to load the bases, bringing up Josh Phegley. He doubled down the line to score two to give the A’s the early 2-0 lead. Marcus Semien walked to reload the bases, and Matt Chapman walked to force in a run, giving the A’s the 3-0 lead.
Matt Olson hit into what could have been a double-play, but the Tigers botched the play and the fourth run was scored; and the A’s would need every one to send the game in extra innings.
Hendriks and Wendelken held steady in their game of “mop up after the rest of the bullpen” but Paul Blackburn (!!) blinked first and allowed the go-ahead run in the eleventh.
Despite a lead off single by Profar, the A’s once again couldn’t do anything further and just as dramatically as they won yesterday, they lost today.
It’s safe to say that despite the early win, the night ended in disappointment, especially since Cleveland pulled off their comeback and the Rays won.
All the A’s can do is win tomorrow and Sunday to keep pace. Such is playoff-race baseball; but this time, there is a tomorrow.
We’ll see you back here tomorrow at 6:07, Chris Bassitt and Jordan Zimmerman.