The last stop of the Oakland A’s road trip was to face a familiar foe in the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, of course, are the team that has knocked Oakland out of the playoffs the last two seasons in heartbreaking fashion. After traveling to New York and Miami before their trip to Detroit, one wouldn’t necessarily look down on a team for dropping one or two games in the three game set. However, the Tigers have the A’s collective number and after Monday’s game one result, those demons may continue to haunt the Athletics for some time.
With the sweep, Detroit moves to 2.5 games behind the A’s for the best record in the American League. Here is how it all went down (-hill) for the A’s against the Tigers.
Game 1 final score: Tigers 5, Athletics 4
Scott Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez cruised through the first half of the game as they shut down their opponent’s lineup. After the A's scored in the top of the 6th on a Jed Lowrie RBI single, the wheels started to come off in the bottom of the inning when Kazmir had to leave the game due to injury. The A’s knocked Sanchez out of the game in the top of the 8th inning and looked to close the door on game one with a three run inning.
Sean Doolittle came in to close the game in the 9th inning and had his worst outing of the season. In only 0.1 IP officially, Doolittle gave up three hits, a walk, and one back-breaking, game-winning grand slam home run to ex-Athletic, Rajai Davis. That collective gasp you heard Monday night was the soul of Athletics Nation, who saw what looked like another victory against the Tigers fall apart at the seams.
Game 2 final score: Tigers 3, Athletics 0
The story of Tuesday’s game was Tigers SP Rick Porcello, who pitched a 4 hit, complete game shutout. Yoenis Cespedes missed Tuesday’s game with a tight calf muscle (he returned in Wednesday’s game) but even he couldn’t have carried the A’s to victory the way Porcello sliced through the A’s lineup.
Billy Beane’s $1 acquisition, Brad Mills, pitched admirably in defeat going 6 innings and giving up all 3 of the Tigers’ runs. Detroit scored on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the 4th and then on a two-run home run from Nick Castellanos in the 6th.
Game 3 final score: Tigers 9, Athletics 3
Things looked to be turning around for the A’s in game 3 against their nemesis in Justin Verlander. Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss both homered in the top of the 1st inning to give the A’s a 2-0 lead. That didn’t last long as the A’s starting pitcher failed to get a shutdown inning in the first and then struggled through his five innings, walking four, giving up eight hits and five ER’s.
Billy Beane’s $10 million acquisition, Jim Johnson, struggled once again on Wednesday. He was only able to get through 0.1 IP but gave up four hits and four ER’s during his brief appearance. Johnson’s struggles are well documented this season. His time with the A’s is very likely nearing the end as Bob Melvin has only been using the relief pitcher in mop-up duty. Johnson’s performance blew open the game and all but sealed the sweep for the Tigers.
"This wasn’t a very good series for us; getting swept never feels too good, but we do want to play them again this year," A's manager Bob Melvin said after the Tigers completed their sweep. A’s fans may not necessarily agree with that sentiment the way things have gone against the Tigers.
Oakland returns home for a four game series against the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays. Pitching match-ups remain the same from Sunday’s Weekly Preview, highlighted by a Scott Kazmir vs. Mark Beuhrle fireworks spectacular on Saturday evening. That of course assumes Kazmir is ready to go coming out of Monday’s early departure in Toronto.