"What light through Yonder window breaks?" Romeo, after Alonso breaks the glass of the window on one of his many impressive homers
Yonder Alonso with power, is a team leader with an elite batters eye and above average contact abilities, with power, who also happens to be equipped with superb defense at first base that instills confidence in both the pitchers and infielders. His presence on the roster is really only blocking Matt Olson, whose ability to play right field well-enough could provide more total value to the team and the franchise and its barren wasteland of outfield prospects. He also has very directly and openly expressed his love of Oakland and willingness to be an Athletic long term. Before tonight, Alonso has been batting .305/.387/.585, with 11 walks to 20 strikeouts. After tonight, he has eight long balls. The signing that was universally maligned when it happened early in the offseason may very well wind up being the most prudent move the A's made.
Jesse Hahn, leading the defense in trying to right the ship, hit some rough waters in tonight's game. Two batters in and Hahn had two easy ground ball outs, but the heart of the Tigers' order worked two long walks and hit a single to load the bases and ran Hahn's pitch count up above thirty in the early going. In a high pressure matchup with the bases loaded and Alex Avila at the plate, Hahn was forced to throw eight pitches before finally inducing a harmless ground ball to first and end the threat.
Hahn's second inning was worse, though he also wasn't given much help from his defense. An early out was followed by two quick baserunners, placing Hahn under pressure once again. Unlike in the first inning, when Hahn successfully danced around the biggest boppers in Detroit's lineup, Hahn couldn't keep the Tigers at bay. Andrew Romine, the Tigers' leadoff hitter, slapped a line drive into right field for an easy triple and two runs batted in. Nick Castellanos promptly singled Romine home to push the Tigers' lead to 3-0. Facing the threat the Tigers' 3-4-5, Hahn wasn't done any favors from his defense, as Ryon Healy, overshifted into the shortstop's spot, booted a ground ball, his second error of the inning, but no more runs would score.
It looked like it would be another frustrating day to watch the A's on offense right off the bat, as Rajai Davis narrowly beat out a slow rolling ground ball, but was called out, and the A's elected not to challenge. The A's wouldn't make much noise in the rest of the inning, but if Rajai was rightfully standing on first like he should've been, it's not inconceivable he could have come around to score on a sacrifice fly, and the missed challenged was yet another missed opportunity for the A's to score when the stifling offense hasn't been creating many opportunities. Taking the offense into his own hands and fresh off of a two error top of the inning, Ryon Healy lined a home run into the left field corner to put the A's on the board and narrow the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning.
The third inning was easy-breezy for Jesse Hahn, giving up only a harmless single and pocketing two strikeouts, but with his pitch count already sky-high at 76 entering the fourth inning, Hahn's ugly outing continued. Hahn tossed six consecutive balls to open the frame and gave up a single to Miguel Cabrera. Two more strikeouts for Hahn gave him a path to finish the inning, and likely his outing, on a high, but tenuous, note, but Hahn was forced to throw seven pitches to Justin Upton and walked him as well, pushing his pitch count up and over one hundred and ending his night after just 3.2 innings pitched. His replacement, Daniel Coulombe, would walk in a run after struggling to find the zone to his first batter before ending the inning, giving Hahn a final line of six hits, four runs, four walks, and four strikeouts. It was not an ideal start for Jesse Hahn, but he did enough to keep the A's in striking distance of the Tigers, and it would be up to the bullpen to pick up the rest of the slack.
For the offense, with just one hit in the first three innings on the Healy homer, it would be Yonder Alonso picking up the rest of the slack. In the fourth inning, Alonso got the A's just a little bit closer to the Tigers by launching a high and deep solo homerun to right center field. After Daniel Coulombe gave up another run in the fifth inning to undo Alonso's chipping, Alonso did himself one better by striking a two run homerun in the sixth inning to make the score 5-4.
All non-Coulombe relievers, from the fifth through ninth innings, did their job in keeping the Tigers' bats on the sidelines as Yonder Alonso dragged the A's kicking and screaming back into the ballgame. The contingent of Hendriks, Dull, Madson, and Montas pitched 4.1 innings and only allowed three baserunners, one on a dropped third strike wild pitch and one on a walk following an eleven pitch at bat, with no runs allowed and eight total strikeouts. Frankie Montas hit 100 MPH.
In the bottom of the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez, Alonso couldn't capture lightning in a bottle three times and struck out. A hard line drive by Healy was unfortunately hit directly at the left fielder, but with two outs the A's would get their next two batters onto second and third base after Bruce Maxwell walked after battling back from 0-2 and Matt Joyce doubled on a changeup right down the middle. Rosales was up with the tying run ninety feet away and the winning run just one hundred eighty feet away. K-Rod's first pitch was a ninety MPH fastball right down broadstreet and Rosales swung with a broad stroke and hit it squarely into left field for a walk off, two run single, a lumbering Joyce leaping forward in a graceful, beautiful dive just ahead of a slightly offline throw from the outfield.
In a victory that could serve as a turning point for this scuffling team, for the first time in 2017 the A's are celebrating on their home field after a wild 6-5 victory. Jesse Hahn battled without his best stuff until he had nothing left in the tank, and the bullpen was unflinching behind him. The Tigers never threatened to score after the fifth inning. The lineup didn't get many hits, but made solid contact all game, against some pretty decent pitching from the opposition. When those hits weren't falling, Yonder Alonso took it upon himself to get the team back in the game, and when Yonder Alonso finally couldn't do it himself, the guys behind him finally got their dues.
In every sense of the word, this was a team win through and through.
The best baseball games are like poetry, and the some of the best poetry was written by Shakespeare.
"My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep, the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite." - From Romeo and Juliet
The A's look to win the series tomorrow, at 1:05, as Gray takes the hill against Norris.