Brett Anderson flirted with perfection for longer than he ever had in his previous 136 big league starts Friday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
Perfection was not to be, though, and neither was a no-hitter as Anderson (ND, 2-3, 4.64 ERA) would eventually depart a scoreless tie having tossed seven two-hit frames.
On most nights, the effort, Anderson’s best all season, would have been enough to be the star in Oakland’s fourth-straight win. But, on this night, he was upstaged twice. First, by Detroit starter Blaine Hardy who allowed just one hit in his seven innings. Then, by rookie Ramón Laureano who capped off his major league debut with a 13th-inning walk-off single to give the Athletics (65-46) their seventh walk-off win and hand the Tigers (47-63) their sixth walk-off loss.
Laureano described the scene in the clubhouse after ending the night:
“They threw tomato juice at me, beer, everything. Everything you can imagine.”
The 24-year-old product of the Dominican Republic started his night early, ranging to the wall in center field and robbing the second Tiger hitter of the night, Nicholas Castellanos, of extra bases in the glaring sun of his first East Bay afternoon. There were low points, including a pop up that fell in front of the rookie leaving him visibly upset, along with a pair of strikeouts. But the 13th inning gave Laureano a chance to redeem himself, and he did, unleashing a bullet of a throw to nail José Iglesias at third and end the top-half.
Then, in the bottom half, he drove in the night’s first and only run. And he did so lining a slider on the outside corner the other way, after flailing wildly at one earlier in the at-bat. He said:
“I don’t usually chase like that, not very often. … I wasn’t myself early in the game, but I made adjustments and good things happened.”
Manager Bob Melvin was even more impressed, however, by Laureano’s ability to take an 0-2 slider off the plate away immediately following his wild swing:
“As a young player, you get the big leagues and there’s some doubt, maybe. You’re swinging at some pitches out of the zone that you don’t normally do. … Then you get to that last at-bat with no hits and now all of a sudden you’re down 0-2 and you swung at another bad pitch. It was the one he laid off of, I felt like was important for him, that he saw it, laid off it, got it again, made sure it was a strike and hit it in the gap. That’s processing really quick for a young player.”
Laureano said he was shocked speechless after the game, adding that he couldn’t have imagined a better way to unveil his skills to the big league world. As for the throw, which produced an out confirmed by replay review, Laureano, who was leading the PCL in outfield assists with 13 before he was called up, said he was happy with the throw:
“After the replay, yeah. … It was a key situation in the game, you don’t want a man on third.”
“Guy’s in his first big league game, you’re 0-for-4, he made a couple nice plays in center field and now you’re put in a position where you literally win a game on a throw and a big hit. … This is a day he definitely will not forget.”
The rookie was put in the position to be a hero due to a pitching performance Oakland has been longing for.
For the first time since July 4, an A’s pitcher completed seven innings. And Anderson didn’t just toss seven, he didn’t allow his first hit until one was out in the sixth. But he escaped that jam with a pair of routine grounders, then he escaped another, following a single and walk surrendered to the first two batters of the inning, in the seventh.
Anderson was eventually relieved after throwing just 74 pitches, having struck out two.
He said after the game that he wanted to keep going, but that he is always comfortable handing the ball to his bullpen, which allowed four hits and now walks in six innings. He said:
“It’s a good problem to have. You’d like to get a win every time out, but if you turn the ball over to the bullpen more times than not it’s going to be a successful game, especially with out bullpen. It’s fun to watch.”
Of his own performance, Anderson said he switched things up a bit, using fewer breaking balls than he had in any of his previous major league starts, relying more on inside fastballs and changeups. Melvin took note, saying it was not only the lefty’s most efficient performance but the least solid contact he has allowed.
Through five, Matt Olson represented the entirety of the offense on either side, and it wasn’t even offense per se rather the threat of it. Olson hammered the fifth pitch he saw from Hardy (ND, 4-3, 3.25 ERA) int the second into the seats down the right field line, and while it was called foul on the field it appeared fair judging by where it landed.
The foul call stood after a crew chief review requested by Melvin, but Olson’s at-bat didn’t end until he became the first man to reach base, walking eight pitches later. The slugging first baseman became the second man to reach as well, walking once again in the fifth, this time to lead off the inning, but was left at first like he was three innings prior.
Hardy, making the 11th start of his five-year career (each this season), finally saw his no-hit bid come to an end on a Jed Lowrie infield single fielded by Iglesias deep in the hole between third and shortstop.
Both teams received bullpen work that nearly matched that of their starters.
Victor Alcántara continued his dominant introduction into the league, tossing two scoreless. Meanwhile, Blake Treinen and Yusmeiro Petit worked two apiece, combining for seven strikeouts and two hits on two scoreless apiece.
With three off-days in one week, the A’s will forgo the No. 5 spot in the rotation and send Edwin Jackson to the mound Saturday. Jackson (2-2, 3.32 ERA) recorded the 100th win of his career last time out, his first win since June 30. He will be opposed by Jordan Zimmermann (4-3, 4.44 ERA) who has lost three straight starts, allowing 24 hits and 13 runs over 14-2/3 innings over that stretch.
Rookie Ramón Laureano had his contract purchased from Triple-A Nashville by the A’s Friday and made his major league debut playing center field and going 1-for-5 with two strikeouts and two groundouts. Laureano filled a vacancy on the 25-man roster created when the A’s optioned Dustin Fowler, who has more strikeouts (22) than hits (12) over his last 20 games (since June 27), to Nashville. To make room for Laureano on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated relief pitcher Carlos Ramírez for assignment on Wednesday — he has since cleared and been outrighted to Nashville. Laureano had slashed .372/.447/.690 with nine home runs, 19 RBIs and 25 runs scored since July 1 (29 games) pushing his season slash in 64 Triple-A games to .297/.380/.524. … The Mariners, who lost to the Blue Jays Thursday night leaving the A’s alone in the second American League Wild Card position, lost to Toronto again Friday, 7-2. Coupled with the A’s victory, Oakland now holds a 1-1/2-game lead for the AL’s fifth and final playoff spot. … With his seven innings, Brett Anderson is the first A’s starting pitcher to complete the seventh since July 4, and the first not named Sean Manaea to do so since Chris Bassitt did so on on June 9.