The Oakland A’s collected eight hits on Thursday including a pair of homers, but it was the gifts they received from their opponent that pushed them over the top.
The A’s drew a dozen walks and benefited from a pair of fielding errors in an 8-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers that didn’t feel half as close as the final score suggests. Oakland increased their winning streak to five games, in the first of a four-part weekend series at the Coliseum.
At the end of five innings, this was a frustrating kind of night. The A’s led 3-2 but it seemed like it should have been much more, as they left the bases loaded twice but did manage a pair of solo homers, just never quite sequencing everything together correctly against Tigers starter and Hayward native Tarik Skubal.
The first run was a dinger by Stephen Piscotty, the hardest-hit ball of the night at 109.6 mph exit velocity.
In the 4th they got a free chance thanks to a Detroit error, and Elvis Andrus cashed in by making just enough contact for a sac fly.
Then in the 5th inning Matt Olson unloaded, 428 feet into the night sky.
That was payback for Olson’s first at-bat, in which he blasted a 382-feet flyout that had a 70% likelihood of falling for a hit. All three of his batted balls tonight were at least 103 mph exit velo.
However, up to that point the Tigers were able to keep up with Oakland’s modest gains. That changed in the 6th, when the wheels fell off of Motor City’s pitching staff. The play-by-play (asterisks* stand for RBI):
- (pitching change)
- (pitching change)
Three different relievers simply couldn’t find the plate, issuing five free passes including two that forced home runs. And when they did stumble into the strike zone, Matt Chapman shredded a double (106.2 mph EV) to knock home a pair.
That rally blew the game open, but just to be safe, Jed Lowrie singled home one more in the 7th inning for his team-leading 12th RBI. In the year 2021.
Footage of Jed Lowrie arriving to A’s Spring Training in February. pic.twitter.com/i6QeTeGhnz— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) April 16, 2021
That hit by Lowrie was only their second in a dozen tries with runners in scoring position, but it’s tough to complain about that on a night when the other team simply handed you runs instead. Of the 20 times Oakland reached base, Mark Canha led with four (a single and three walks), further showcasing himself as the team’s new leadoff hitter.
A couple days ago I predicted Sean Manaea would be the first A’s starter to push his ERA below 4.00, and he almost did it tonight.
The Tigers did almost nothing against the lefty for six innings. They hit the ball hard one time, an impressive solo homer by Niko Goodrum. Their other run off him was BABIP luck, as a lazy fly found some chalk in the RF corner for an RBI double. It’s a ball that gets caught 99% of the time, according to Statcast.
Manaea: 6 ip, 2 runs, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HR, 5 hits, 82 pitches, 83.7 mph EV
That’s his second straight quality start in three tries, and it takes his ERA down to 4.32 for the season, with nearly four strikeouts per walk.
The bullpen got progressively shakier for the rest of the night, but not enough to put the game in jeopardy. Yusmeiro Petit breezed through a perfect frame, J.B. Wendelken navigated through trouble to avoid damage, and Sergio Romo got knocked around for a couple harmless runs. Romo’s ERA since shaving is now 9.00, which is still better than his 9.82 ERA with the beard.
Food toys with cat
Can the A’s make it six in a row tomorrow? They’re already within one game of .500 after their 0-6 start.