It’s pretty safe to say this was about as far from how the A’s hoped to kick off this ultra important roadtrip as could possibly be. On paper it wasn’t going to be easy to begin with, facing a red hot Max Scherzer who leads the league in strikeouts. Scherzer ended up lasting just 2 innings and had to exit the game with shoulder fatigue, but it really didn’t matter who took the mound against the A’s tonight.
September 18, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin (6) takes the ball from starting pitcher A.J. Griffin (64) during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
The A’s did have a lead for a moment or so after a Brandon Moss RBI single in the top of the 1st inning, but A.J. Griffin did not have the A game that had given him a 6-0 record and an ERA under 2 prior to this start. He gave up a run in the bottom of the first on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly, but it could’ve been much worse. Jhonny Peralta homered in the 2nd inning, Miguel Cabrera homered in the 3rd, and from that point on the Tigers never looked back. A Prince Fielder home run in the 5th inning was the knockout blow to Griffin, who had the first ugly outing of his MLB career.
But this loss cannot be pinned completely on Griffin, the A’s were given a prime opportunity to score some runs on multiple occasions and failed miserably to do so. After Moss’ clutch 2 out RBI single in the first, the A’s never saw a clutch piece of hitting again tonight until the game was well in hand. The prime suspect tonight was Stephen Drew, he struck out to end the 1st and the 3rd innings with 2 runners on, and flied out to end the 5th with 2 more runners on base. If he had delivered in even just 1 of those chances the course of this game may very well have been altered dramatically.
I have to address the Jesse Chavez situation. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and everything, and I don’t want to disparage him, but he has no business being on a Major League mound. While I know tonight’s damage in the form of a Miguel Cabrera grand slam didn’t really have an affect on the outcome of the game, it’s frustrating because it was an unbelievably predictable result. At this point Chavez should not see any action in a situation Bob Melvin wouldn’t bring in an outfielder to pitch in. When you arrive with an ERA in the 8’s, and after 3 appearances that ERA is now in the 10’s, maybe you shouldn’t be getting the ball anymore.
The bright side of tonight’s beatdown is that it only counts as 1 loss, and none of the runs the Tigers scored count towards tomorrow’s game. The down side of it all is that the A’s are once again facing the possibility of a losing streak beginning to form as they prepare to face one of the toughest pitchers in baseball. This happened before quite recently though, the A’s had just been swept by the Los Angeles Angels at home and headed to Seattle to face Felix Hernandez in game 1 up there. The A’s responded by rocking King Felix for 6 runs and swept that series. Tomorrow they face Justin Verlander, and they’ll need a heroic performance like they had against Felix to get things pointed in the right direction again. Brett Anderson will try to best the reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner, and even up this series in the process.