A’s bounce back, explode against Tigers

With a 17-hit, 12-run eruption, the Oakland Athletics reached double digits for the first time this season in a 12-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers Saturday afternoon.

A’s starter Jesse Hahn was far from flawless, but battled his way through six innings, allowing just three runs to the potent Detroit offense. The Tigers (24-24) gave the ball to recently re-called starter Matt Boyd (0-0, 2.79 ERA), who allowed three runs over five frames.

Warwick Saupold (L, 1-1, 9.64 ERA) took over a tied game in the sixth. The only out credited to the righty reliever came on a sacrifice fly, as he was slapped with a loss as well as five hits and five runs.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

After the game, Manager Bob Melvin acknowledged that his team will not score 12 runs regularly, but said success will only come via contributions across the lineup:

“That’s the type of lineup we need to be. We’ve got some guys in the middle of the order that can hit some homers, but if we’re going to be successful it has to be with contributions like it was today.”

Oakland’s power was on display Saturday, as the A’s (21-29) went deep three times, with the opening salvo fired by an unlikely source.

After a pair of scoreless frames from Hahn (W, 2-2, 4.15 ERA), Billy Butler launched a 1-1 fastball into the seats in left-center field. “Country Breakfast” marked his first homer since Sept. 26, 2015 with a little shimmy going down the first base line, and a concealed grin as he rounded third.

The A’s added a solo dinger from Danny Valencia (7), and RBI single from Coco Crisp, in the fourth.

After a two-run jack from Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez (7) tied the game 3-3 in the sixth, manager Brad Ausmus gave the ball to Saupold.

Butler once again came through facing the reliever, lining a double into the right field corner to bring home Valencia and Khris Davis.

Following his two-hit, three-RBI performance, Butler said it felt good to contribute:

“It feels good to come through in a tied ballgame, there in the sixth, after we’ve had a couple tough games… I got the knock and  the flood gates opened. It was a great team win.”

The first baseman’s two-run double drove in what proved to be the winning run, but that didn’t stop the oft struggling offense from continuing the onslaught. Right fielder Jake Smolinski added a sacrifice fly, following an RBI double from Marcus Semien, and chasing Saupold from the game.

The A’s continued swinging in the eighth, adding four more, including a three on a homer off the red hot bat of Davis (14).

The left fielder now finds himself tied for fourth in the major leagues in homers, having hit 11 this far in May. That is the most an A’s hitter has swatted in a single month since Jason Giambi had 13 in September of 2000.

Of the mighty month from the first-year Athletic, Melvin joked:

“He’s had a nice month. How many is that, 11. That’s a nice month. I did that one year — hit 11 (home runs) — I wouldn’t know what to relate that to.”

The recipient of Oakland’s largest run total this season, Hahn experienced highs and lows.

After facing the minimum through the first three frames, the hurler worked out of his first trouble getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. In the fifth, Hahn threw a curveball past catcher Josh Phegley — who was reinstated from the disabled list before the game. Appearing to have lost track of the situation, Hahn did not cover the plate, allowing Justin Upton to score without a play.

Despite the mental error, Phegley, who finished with three hits and two runs of his own, was impressed with what the starter featured, saying that Hahn did a good job of pounding the strike zone with a good sinker.

Hahn was more excited about the overall effort of his mates:

“It was awesome to get a team win and to do it the way we did it today … We’re pretty excited about it right now, and I think this is the going to be the win that is going to take off our season for us.”

The Green and Gold will get to test their new momentum when the same two teams take the field for a Sunday-afternoon rubber match.

Toeing the rubber for the hometown A’s will be acting ace Rich Hill (7-3, 2.18 ERA), who had more strikeouts (eight) than hits allowed (four) in his only previous start against the Tigers. He will face Mike Pelfrey (0-4, 5.55 ERA), who gave up five runs over 6-2/3 innings in his prior start against Oakland.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.