The A’s battled four separate Tigers pitchers Wednesday, but couldn’t get it done after Oakland starter Scott Kazmir left the game after just three innings with shoulder tightness in his left throwing arm.
Kazmir turned the ball over to the A’s mediocre bullpen, and the Tigers scored all three of their runs off Otero (L, 2-3, 4.88 ERA) in a top of the fifth inning loaded with irony.
Semien made the most of it, with a triple hit high in the air and just inches fair on the right field line, bouncing off the barrier and onto the warning track. Eric Sogard drove him in with a fielder’s choice ground ball to second, trimming Detroit’s lead to a single run.
Photos by Jeffery Bennett/SFBay
In the next at bat, Billy Burns missed a would-be game tying home run by about a foot, the ball tapping the top of the outfield wall just shy of becoming the clutch hit the A’s were looking for.
Burns reached second on a head-first slide, the tying run ready to score. They just needed a hit.
A strikeout from infielder Ian Kinsler brought up third baseman Miguel Cabrera, one of baseball’s best hitters. Three straight balls allowed Scribner a free strike, and Cabrera fouled one back. He fouled another before grounded out on to short, ending the nail-biting jam.
After a leadoff single hit by catcher Stephen Vogt, Billy Butler flew out and Mark Canha walked, leaving third baseman Brett Lawrie to strike out. The A’s found themselves in exactly the same situation as the Tigers in the previous half inning, but with Semien instead of Cabrera.
And a similar result followed, as Semien struck out looking on a hanging changeup that started at the neck and landed at the belt, right in the heart of the zone.
Oakland was 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday, one day after going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position Tuesday. On the struggle to get guys across home, Melvin said:
“Probably gets to a point where you’re pressing a little bit. Recently we’ve had some games where this has happened. Left a lot of guys on base. And struggled when we had an opportunity to get a big hit, get a lead, or whatever.”
The Tigers were 1-for-6 in the same category Wednesday, but the decision to face Cespedes — after intentionally walking Cabrera — is one that Melvin will make time and time again.
“Everytime we play the Tigers, we don’t let Cabrera beat us, whether it’s Victor Martinez, whoever is after him. It doesn’t mean it’s an easy matchup afterwards, but it’s the lesser of two evils.”
Otero agrees with the decision and his two strike changeup was supposed to make Cespedes chase. The Cuban import is known by the A’s as the type of hitter that will over-extend because of his extreme confidence in his power.
“I got ahead of him, 0-2 on the at bat, and tried to make him chase. He didn’t bite on a couple pitches, and I got in a 2-2 count, and tried to make a good pitch. And left it up a little bit. And he put a good swing on it.”
It’s the second time in less than 24 hours that the A’s have lost a one-run ballgame to the Tigers, who win the series 2-1 and leave the A’s to prepare for a four-game weekender hosting the Yankees.
Kazmir undergoes MRI
As the A’s players funneled from the third base dugout to their clubhouse, Kazmir was getting an MRI done on his shoulder, hoping to get some answers.
The outcome of the examination will determine whether or not he’ll need to head to the disabled list, but it’s something the A’s can ill-afford.
The club already has three pitchers, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, and Taylor Thompson on the 60-day disabled list, and starter Drew Pomeranz on the 15-day disabled list.
Griffin is slated to throw a simulated game Thursday afternoon, and is at least a week or two away from returning. He predicted a mid-June return before the season, and seems to be on track for that.
Pomeranz would be the best option, but won’t be eligible to return until June 5th, leaving Chris Bassitt as the A’s most plausible option should Kazmir need time to heal.
Bassit has thrown 28-1/3 innings for the A’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, sporting a 4.45 ERA and tremendous 1.09 WHIP.
But the A’s hope they won’t need to give him the call.