The Tigers made a valiant effort at a comeback, but a terrible outing from Matt Manning doomed them early in this one. The A’s hung on to win 8-6 and take the three-game set.
Things spiraled out of control almost as quickly as Matt Manning’s command in this one. He struck out Josh Harrison to start the game, but walked Starling Marte and Matt Chapman after getting to two strikes quickly against both. Jed Lowrie smoked a sinker at the bottom of the zone into the visitor’s bullpen for a three-run homer. Mark Canha followed with a solo shot over the out-of-town scoreboard, and the A’s never looked back.
Elvis Andrus singled with one out in the second inning, and Manning hung a changeup that Marte ripped to left for an RBI double. In the third, he got two quick outs, then walked Canha, allowed a single to Tony Kemp, and then, again in an 0-2 count left a slider up and saw Yan Gomes double to left, scoring both runners.
Manning was fighting his delivery throughout. His timing was out of whack, his arm swing got long again, and he couldn’t get on top of his secondary pitches. The slider was popping out early and he missed up in the zone over and over instead of burying it down. Against a weaker lineup he might have hung in there and sorted things out, but the A’s punish mistakes, and there were plenty of opportunities for them to do so.
Manning was eventually knocked out in the fourth after once again starting off an inning well and then falling apart. He got two quick outs, and then allowed back-to-back singles to Olson and Chapman, finally getting the hook from A.J. Hinch. Miguel Del Pozo came on and immediately surrendered an RBI ground-rule double to pinch-hitter Khris Davis, as Lowrie got the rest of the game off. A.J. Hinch also pulled Jonathan Schoop to give him a rest, inserting Zack Short in at shortstop, and moving Harold Castro to first.
The Tigers did get on the board in the fifth finally, and came from an eye-popping tape measure shot from Harold Castro. The utilityman has been working on tapping into some power recently and hit his second homer in as many days, and just his third all year, off a Montas heater. A 447-foot blast to center field certainly qualifies.
Del Pozo settled in and did a nice job tossing a scoreless fifth and sixth inning. Derek Holland spun a 1-2-3 seventh, and in the bottom of the inning, the Tigers put a few more runs on the board.
Niko Goodrum led off with a walk, and after Willi Castro and Victor Reyes made outs, Akil Baddoo sprayed a fly ball the opposite way into the Tigers bullpen for his second homer in as many games. Good to see some fight, and especially good to see Baddoo settling in again and finding his power stroke.
Baddoo’s blow knocked Montas from the game, finally. Deolis Guerra, who the Tigers had already seen in the series, came on in mop-up duty, and quickly surrendered singles to Zack Short and Robbie Grossman. Guerra got into a long at-bat against Jeimer Candelario, and eventually Candy got him, turning on a blast of his own into the right field seats to make it 8-6 Tigers. You’ve gotta give them credit. They don’t quit.
Candelario’s shot didn’t knock Guerra from the game, but a smoked line drive single to left off the bat of Eric Haase did. Bob Melvin turned to lefty Andrew Chafin instead with Harold Castro at the dish. This time Castro flew out to the edge of the track in left, briefly making it interesting. Still the Tigers had roared back with five runs, and we had a ballgame again.
Hinch turned to rookie Alex Lange in the top of the eighth, looking to hold the A’s in place. He had a tough test, taking on the heart of their lineup, but came through just fine. Lange even showed off several pretty aggressive and good-looking changeups in the frame, and set them down in order.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t get much going in the bottom half. Goodrum grounded out, Willi Castro struck out on three pitches, and after Victor Reyes bunted his way on, Akil Baddoo was rung up on a slider that appeared to be just below the strikezone, and did not appreciate it.
Hinch had Gregory Soto loosening up in the eighth just in case, but as they didn’t score, Lange got a second inning. Again his stuff looks very good. His velocity was excellent, touching 98 mph, and his sharp slider looks more refined that on his last brief tour with the Tigers early this season. He blew away Chapman with that 98 mph heater for the first out of the inning, but Davis followed with a soft single to left field.
The aptly named Skye Bolt came in to run for Davis and promptly stole second base on Lange. Against Mark Canha, Lange got into a 2-2 count but then missed with consecutive pitches to issue the walk. Avoiding the strike zone there may have been by design, as this set up the double play, and left things up to Tony Kemp. Lange broke out two more changeups against the lefty, getting a foul and then a whiff to begin the AB before Kemp ultimately flew out to center. Gomes went down on strikes, and it was last call for offense.
Unfortunately, they’d have to get it down against our old foe Sergio Romo. The ageless right-hander quickly punched out Derek Hill, who pinch hit for Short. Grossman was victimized by a terrible called strike in a 1-1 count, but battled back to eventually draw a walk and get the potential tying run to the plate in the form of Candelario. The Tigers third baseman pulled a long fly ball just foul down the right field line on a 2-2 pitch that had the fans on their feet briefly, but ultimately he went the opposite way, flying out to the warning track in left, and that put all the Tigers hopes in Eric Haase. Romo is absolutely the wrong kind of pitcher for the slugging catcher though, and he could only ground out to third base for the final out.