Oakland, CA – This series is full of surprises, in two games we’ve seen remarkable plays in the ninth inning. Tonight, the A’s came away with the win after Josh Donaldson hit his second career walk-off home run to give Oakland the 3-1 victory over the Tigers.
“You had that feeling when he came up, to be honest with you,” said Scott Kazmir. “First pitch, didn’t miss.”
After eight scoreless innings, Coco Crisp doubled on a sharp ground ball down the left field baseline. Then John Jason singled on a line drive to left field. With runners on and one out, Donaldson blasted a three-run homer off his first pitch.
“He threw me a slider,” said Donaldson. “Just kind of missed in the area where I could hit. Thankfully I didn’t miss it. I’ve had a few at bats off (closer) Joe Nathan.”
“When you’re pitching against a guy who is throwing the ball that well and you’re not scoring any runs, you know you have to be pitching perfect,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He was that close.”
Kazmir tossed his first complete game since July 3, 2006 against the Boston Red Sox. He’s allowed one run fewer in 6 of his last 11 starts this season. Both Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez were in a pitcher’s duel for majority of the game. Oakland went scoreless until the ninth while Detroit mustered one run from Torii Hunter.
His only error was yielding a solo home run to Hunter in the fourth. Kazmir scattered six hits, walked none and struck out eight almost going the distance. Sanchez allowed three hits and struck out nine. Both pitchers were outstanding however, only one team can walk away with the win.
“Throughout the whole game, Anibal and I, it just seemed like we were just battling it out, out for out,” said Kazmir.
“Boy, Sanchez was unbelievable tonight,” said Melvin. “It took us a while to score some runs tonight, but we kept grinding on it.”
The A’s won on a walk-off for the fourth time this season. Oakland’s starting pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer in 15 of the last 19 games and are 11-3 with a 1.96 ERA. The A’s who remain in first place in the American League West lead the Tigers 2-1 in this four-game series.
“The last two games of this series definitely had the playoff energy, that electricity, that feel,” closer Sean Doolittle said. “When you’re going up against a team like that, it’s fun. This could be a big character building win for us.”
“That was a tough spot to bring Joe in,” said Detroit’s manager Brad Ausmus. “He had no margin for error. Sanchez pitched outstanding, but his pitch count got a little high. He said he felt good to start the ninth, and he’s one of our horses and deserves the chance to finish the game.”
The Tigers have lost eight of their last ten games and continue to struggle offensively. Nathan recorded his fourth blown save of the season and allowed two earned runs in his previous 18 2/3 innings. Kazmir retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced making it difficult for Detroit’s best hitters to get on base.
“Putting up the effort he did today, it was definitely, definitely a good feeling for us to get that win for him,” Jaso said. That’s awesome to do for a starting pitcher who puts together a great performance like that against the Tigers.”