BY SEAN WATKINS
Oakland extended their winning streak to seven games on Saturday afternoon, shutting out Detroit 7-0 at the Coliseum in dominant fashion, beating up on the Tigers and Casey Mize, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, with three home runs and a shutout performance from Cole Irvin and the bullpen.
After surrendering a leadoff single in the first, Irvin found his rhythm and retired nine straight batters before hitting Niko Goodrum with a pitch. He was also able to get out of a jam in the fourth by striking out Jonathan Schoop with runners on first and third with two outs.
The A’s got to Mize early as Matt Olson belted a solo shot homerun 416 ft. to deep right field in the first to give Oakland a 1-0 lead. Matt Chapman followed by hitting a triple to deep left that was misplayed by JaCoby Jones at the warning track. Mize struggled to contain the Athletics lineup, especially in the first two innings, allowing five runs on four hits. Over five innings, he gave up five runs and seven hits while striking out four.
Oakland hit back-to-back homeruns in the second as Aramis Garcia hit a two-run homer to deep left center following a single by Vimael Machin. Mark Canha then smashed the next pitch to the same vicinity, giving the A’s a commanding 4-0 lead.
Irvin spoke about getting support from his offense and how it changes the approach from a pitching standpoint. “Today felt really good and when the offense gets you that lead it’s a lot easier to pitch. “It definitely got the energy in the dugout going. It’s Jed’s (Lowrie) birthday so we definitely won for him today. We’re just trying to keep this ball rolling, off that rough start we’re definitely all cylinders going ahead and having a lot of fun.”
Detroit stranded two runners in scoring position in the fifth. Jones and Robbie Grossman hit back-to-back singles and both advanced on a wild pitch from Irvin. However, Irvin was able to strikeout Goodrum to get out of the inning.
Chapman grounded into a fielder’s choice in the fifth with one out and runners on first and third, scoring Canha to give the A’s a 5-0 lead when Detroit was unable to capitalize on a double play opportunity to end the inning.
Coming off two rough starts to begin the season while facing the Astros lineup once at home and once on the road, Irvin bounced back with a dominant outing. He exited the game with six shutout innings and six strikeouts while allowing just four hits.
Manager Bob Melvin discussed how Irvin pitched on Saturday afternoon and the momentum behind the starters. “He’s actually pitched better than his numbers have suggested. Today he was on it, six solid innings, kind of riding the wave of the last couple of starts,” said Melvin. “He’s pitched well and today was his best performance by far and kind of doing what our starters have been doing.”
Joe Jimenez came into the game for Detroit in the seventh. Jimenez walked three batters to load the bases then walked Mitch Moreland to bring in a run, making it a 6-0 lead for Oakland. The Tigers turned to Alex Lange out of the bullpen, who threw a wild pitch on his first pitch to give the A’s a 7-0 lead.
The bullpen had a great performance once Irvin exited the game. J.B. Wendelken, Deolis Guerra and Jordan Weems contributed a combined three innings giving up just one hit without surrendering any runs to cap off the shutout for Oakland.
Aramis Garcia shared the confidence of the club during the current seven-game win streak and the mentality in the clubhouse. “Even when we had that first tough homestand, nobody was really pressing, nobody was really panicking,” said Garcia. “We all know how good of a team we have here. We just continued to press forward and been able to play some good baseball.”
Chris Bassitt will take the mound against Detroit’s Matthew Boyd on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum as the A’s go for a sweep in the final game of the four-game series.
Prior to Satiurday’s game, the A’s had allowed the highest batting average (.279) and slugging average (.474) in the MLB this season.
Jed Lowrie got the day off on his 37th birthday for load management, according to Bob Melvin.
Melvin is one game short of tying Tony La Russa with 1471 games managed for Oakland, which would equal the franchise record most games since the team relocated from Kansas City.
On this date in 1968, the A’s played their first game in Oakland losing 4-1 to Baltimore.