It was an encore performance from the A’s pitching staff today with Austin Pruitt and Ken Waldichuk holding the Tigers scoreless for the first 7 innings after JP Sears did the same on his own yesterday.
Pruitt was originally announced as today’s “opener”, but after he finished the 1st inning without a baserunner, Mark Kotsay put him out there for the 2nd against an almost all-righty lineup. He followed up his perfect 1st with a perfect 2nd, and then came back out for a perfect 3rd. Though he only got one strikeout, Pruitt clearly had Detroit’s batters off balance throughout his outing. Amazingly, five of his nine outs were infield popups, while another two were groundouts. After his five perfect innings in a spot start last year, it might be worthwhile to see what Pruitt could do with a little rotation run.
It’s unclear whether it was part of the plan to get Pruitt all the way through the lineup before handing it off to Waldichuk but it surely worked. Though he immediately lost the perfect game by allowing a single to leadoff man Zach McKinstry, Waldy efficiently got through the rest of the inning and the three after. Outside of that hit and a walk in the 6th, the rookie southpaw didn’t allow any baserunners and kept his foot on the Tigers’ throat.
Unfortunately, he let up in the 8th, allowing back-to-back walks to start the inning. Detroit then broke the shutout when soon-to-be retiree Miguel Cabrera knocked one of those walks in with an RBI double over Brent Rooker’s head in right field. Though that cut his outing a bit shorter than expected, it was still a positive outing for Waldichuk overall. A few more of these and he might find his way back to being a pure starter and the rotation fixture the A’s expected.
By the time the Tigers scored that first run, the game was already far out of reach due to a monster performance from the A’s lineup. The action got started in the top of the 1st with Esteury Ruiz doing Esteury Ruiz things. First, he led off with a bunt single. Then, he stole his 43rd base of the season, setting a new all-time record for A’s rookies. After being moved to third on a Jordan Diaz single, he scored the A’s first run on a sacrifice fly from Brent Rooker. Ryan Noda then stole the show a bit, driving Diaz in with a two-run blast to deep right field.
Speaking of Jordan Diaz, he was actively involved in the offense all night. After his hit in the 1st, he drove another single to left in the 3rd and scored all the way from 1st on an Aledmys Diaz two-out double. Shea Langeliers wanted in on the action and hit a towering homerun to left field off Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
Despite carrying a 5-0 lead, the A’s were hungry for more. After a couple of walks and a single loaded the bases in the 6th, the hot-hitting Tony Kemp, who’s batting /.321/.397/.518 since June 15, drove in Langeliers and Bleday to extend the lead. He then stole second base, giving the king of RISP Ruiz the opportunity to drive in a couple of his own, which he of course did.
But the A’s still weren’t done! In the top of the 8th, Oakland once again had runners in scoring position with Nick Allen at third and Kemp at first. Pinch-hitting for Ruiz, Tyler Wade hit a soft grounder to former A’s pitcher Zach Logue, who tried to end the inning with a double play but bobbled the ball just enough to let the speedy to get to first safely. That set up another hit from Jordan Diaz, his biggest of the night. On a first-pitch 90mph four seamer, the righty rookie muscled the pitch all the way to the opposite side and handed the A’s a 12-0 lead.
The A’s allowed a couple more runs to the Tigers in the last two innings but who cares! This might’ve been the easiest win of the season for the A’s and it may not be close. The pitching was stellar, the lineup was pouncing on every bad pitch, and the team overall was working in sync to crush the Tigers.
Tomorrow, they’ll look to make good on their best chance at a sweep this year, Hogan Harris taking on All-Star (not a typo) Michael Lorenzen.