Garrett Hill stayed in one batter too long.
The Detroit Tigers rookie, making his third career start, had been in cruise control through five innings but gave up three consecutive hits in the the sixth. That included a decisive three-run home run, as the Tigers fell to the Oakland Athletics, 5-0, in Game 2 of Thursday’s doubleheader.
“One good, one bad,” manager A.J. Hinch told reporters after the game of his thoughts of the double-header.” We felt good, we had a chance to win both games, then had a blow-up inning at the wrong time in a game we didn’t score.”
For a while, Thursday was going much like his MLB debut, in which he allowed just one run on two hits over six innings. Through five innings Thursday, Hill had scattered two singles and two walks while only allowing one runner to reach scoring position.
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He’d struck out a career-high five batters and the A’s were only making soft contact, with an average exit velocity of just more than 85 mph on their first two trips through the lineup.
Hinch allowed Hill, at just 72 pitches, to face the top of the A’s lineup for a third time — opponents were 0-for-8 against Hill in the third time through the order so far this year.
“We liked where he was going into the sixth,” Hinch said. “I had (left-hander Andrew) Chafin up to get (Seth) Brown but he never got to him.”
Vimael Machín opened the frame with a 99.6 mph shot that third baseman Jeimer Candelario dove and gloved but couldn’t get enough on his throw to get the out at first. On the next pitch, Ramón Laureano ripped a 105 mph single down the third-base line.
Again, Candelario dove — and made contact with the ball — but he couldn’t spear it.
That brought up Sean Murphy; the A’s catcher took a knuckle-curve for strike one and then sent the next one 447 feet into the suites in left-center for a 3-0 Oakland lead.
“He had dominated to that point,” Hinch said. “After the long at bat (Machín) gets on base, Laureano hits a bullet, Candelario almost makes the play.
“Then he hangs a breaking ball, and that’s the name of the game.”
Hill, a native of Petaluma, California — just 45 minutes from Oakland — said he loved the opportunity to pitch near his home. He added that he wishes he could have one do-over, but feels there’s plenty of positives to take away from his outing.
“Overall, I think I threw pretty well,” he said. “Obviously, I didn’t make the one pitch and it got me … but I felt good.”
Hill’s day was done, but Chafin didn’t have any better results.
Seth Brown reached on a blooper, then advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Tigers shortstop Javier Báez made a diving stop on a shot by Elvis Andrus to steal an out, but Stephen Vogt plated Brown with a sacrifice fly.
Dermis Garcia hit a chopper with two outs back to the mound, but Chafin couldn’t handle it and spiked the throw to first baseman Harold Castro, allowing the runner to advance to second.
Tony Kemp then singled him home with two strikes and two outs..
Offense goes quiet
Those five runs were more than enough, considering the Tigers’ offensive struggles in Game 2.
Riley Greene led off with an infield single, but he was caught stealing as Victor Reyes struck out. In the second, Castro doubled with one out, but he was stranded at second base.
Tucker Barnhart led off the third with a single and made it to third after two wild pitches and a Reyes walk, but Báez struck out to end the frame.
Miguel Cabrera led off the fourth with a walk, but that was it; the next nine Tigers were retired in order, through the sixth inning.
A brief Tigers rally in the seventh — Jonathan Schoop and Candelario put together consecutive singles with one out — was ended by Barnhart hitting into a 1-6-3 double play to end the frame.
Oakland used a handful of pitchers to give the Tigers a variety of looks. Frankie Montas threw the first three innings, allowing just two hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
Austin Pruitt struck out two in two innings, Domingo Acevedo did the same in one inning, followed by scoreless frames from A.J. Puk, Sam Moll and Lou Trivino.
It was the 14th shutout of the Tigers this season.
Cisnero makes season debut
While Tigers pitchers moving onto the injured list seems like a weekly occurrence — the team announced Thursday that Beau Brieske is headed to the 15-day IL with a forearm strain — on Thursday, they got one back.
Right-hander Jose Cisnero, who started the season on the 60-day IL with a right shoulder strain, was nearing a return in June, but suffered a setback with an Achilles injury. He was finally activated for the series leading up to the All-Star break, but left the team before he made an appearance and was placed on the bereavement list with what Hinch called a “family emergency.” He made his season debut Thursday, allowing two hits in a scoreless eighth inning.
“It was nice, I wanted him to pitch today,” Hinch said of Cisnero. “Obviously, thoughts and prayers to his family. … But getting him back on the mound after all this time, it feels like forever.
“He’s going to play a pivotal role for us in the second half.”
In 2021, Cisnero had a 3.65 ERA (it was 2.73 in the final days of the season before he allowed seven runs in his final two outings) with 62 strikeouts in 61⅔ innings.
Contact Tony Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.