Oakland, CA – The last time these two teams met was in the postseason. And for the second time in two years, the Detroit Tigers moved on while the A’s got better. Today it’s just another game on the schedule but for Oakland it’s so much more.
“There is some history there when facing this team,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin.
Oakland put on a home run clinic to shutout the Tigers 10-0 in the first of a four-game series. After returning home from a tough road trip, the A’s dominated Drew Smyly to take a early 5-0 lead through the first four innings. Smyly came in having only given up four home runs all season, and he allowed that many in less than three innings.
“Honestly, I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand pretty well,” Smyly said. “I was attacking hitters and putting myself into good counts. I don’t know how you give up four solo home runs in one game, but there it is. They hit my good pitches and they hit my bad pitches.”
Coco Crisp leadoff the first with a single, moved to third on a fielding error by shortstop Andrew Romine. Derek Norris was safe at first putting both runners in the corner with no outs. But Smyly retired the next three batters leaving runners stranded. No worries, Oakland made up for it in the second.
Brandon Moss hit a home run off Austin Jackson’s glove over the center field wall. After extending himself leaping over the wall Jackson caught the ball but lost it trying to bring it down. Kyle Blanks in his first at-bat blasted a solo home run to left field making it a 2-0 game. Blanks ended his 49-game homerless streak dating back to June 16, 2013 with the San Diego Padres.
“I don’t think you’re ever going to get in trouble for it,” said Blanks. “I think it’s more just the thought process of really not trying to do too much. Today was a great example of everybody contributing.”
The A’s home run parade continued in the third. Both Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes went back-to-back with solo home runs deep to left field. Donaldson shot a bullet just over the left field wall while Cespedes took Smyly’s ball high into the stands. Oakland’s 4-0 lead still kept Smyly in the game.
“It wasn’t a great outing for him,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “At least he got deep enough in the game where the bullpen wasn’t completely torn apart.”
It didn’t get any better for Smyly in the fourth, he loaded the bases with no outs. Alberto Callaspo leadoff the frame with a single and Blanks followed with a single to left field. Craig Gentry walked and Crisp drove in the A’s fifth run with a sacrifice fly. Donaldson extended Oakland’s lead 6-0 with a RBI single.
Tommy Milone was two outs away from recording seven shutout innings but Jed Lowrie’s error ended his day on the mound. He exited to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd. Milone tossed 6 2/3 innings, yielding four hits, two walks, six strikeouts and no runs. His performance was outstanding, he stayed inside the corner all afternoon, mixing up his changeup and fastball which was a huge part of his success.
“Whenever you go out there and give up zero runs, it’s always a good day,” said Milone. “But I’ve got to give credit to the the defense and, obviously, the offense today because they backed me up.”
Milone worked around Miguel Cabrera’s leadoff double in the fourth to retire the next four batters. The Tigers remained scoreless with only three players getting hits. Bottom of the eighth, Phil Coke issued a free pass to Blanks, a catcher’s interference put Gentry on and an error by shortstop Romine loaded the bases with no outs.
Derek Norris hit grand slam that gave the A’s a 10-0 lead to seal their victory. What a way to cap off a special day to honor the men and women who fought for our country on Memorial Day. This was Norris’ first career grand slam and a season-high five home runs for Oakland. Norris stated that all he wanted to do was join in the fun of getting on base like his fellow teammates but he did much more.
“Homers can be rally killers,” Norris said. “But when you end up hitting four or five of them on the day, you can probably make a different statement.”
Notes – Kyle Blanks joined the A’s on the road in Cleveland. He was acquired from the San Diego Padres on May 15 for minor league outfielder Jake Goebbert and a player to be named later. Blanks appeared in five of Oakland’s nine games since then. He is now the first baseman and feels he’s adjusting well with his new team.
“I haven’t faced a lot of these teams so it’s a first time for me,” Blanks said. “It’s nice to be back at first base, I grew up playing this position except over the last couple of years. I’m starting to feel really comfortable again and just hoping to get better.”
“It takes awhile to adjust to a new team but he’s gotten some starts and made some athletic plays at first,” said manager Bob Melvin. “I’m sure he’s looking forward to scoring some balls up. He’s got a lot of power and he’s doing well.”