A pivotal deke: Athletics turn bloop single into a force out at third base

Detroit News

Detroit – When the dust settled, Oakland Athletics starter Chris Bassitt struck out eight Tigers hitters and got 17 swings and misses in six strong, dominant innings, helping his team complete a four-game sweep over the Tigers, 3-2 Sunday.

The only Tiger hitter who pestered him was Harold Castro, who got two hits off him and knocked in the only two runs Bassitt allowed.

But it could’ve been a very different day for Bassitt and the Tigers where it not for some trickery, and a rocket throw, by A’s center fielder Ramon Laureano in the first inning.

Robbie Grossman led off the game with a walk and Jeimer Candelario followed with a single. It was just the second time in three games the Tigers had back-to-back hitters reach base in the series. Willi Castro then followed with a bloop that fell into shallow  center.

It looked like the Tigers were going to be in business, except Grossman somehow got hung up between second and third and Laureano threw a seed to third – turning a single into an 8-5 force out.

“I think Laureano baited him and froze him a little bit,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “Ball off the bat, I thought it was going to be caught. Then you could see it falling and Ramon didn’t go into a dive. He pulled up.”

By that time, Grossman was frozen in place, in no-man’s land, and then he slipped when he restarted toward third. He was out by a good margin.

“That’s a very difficult base running play,” Hinch said. “If he gets off too far and Laureano makes the catch, he gets doubled off second.”

The Tigers still ended up with the bases loaded and one out after Wilson Ramos singled. But Bassitt got Renato Nunez on a pop to short and he struck out Harold Castro.

Bassitt went on to dispatch 14 of the next 15 hitters before Harold Castro slapped a two-run, two-out single in the sixth.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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