OAKLAND -- If the A's have an ideal formula to winning a game, it is probably how they did it on Saturday against the Tigers: six-plus strong innings out of a starter, handing things off to a strong bullpen that was beefed up at the trade deadline.And if Edwin Jackson
OAKLAND -- If the A's have an ideal formula to winning a game, it is probably how they did it on Saturday against the Tigers: six-plus strong innings out of a starter, handing things off to a strong bullpen that was beefed up at the trade deadline.
And if Edwin Jackson keeps pitching this way, the A's have a veteran whom they can rely on down the stretch in a pennant race for the first part of the formula. Jackson continued his surprising success in 2018 and a red-hot bullpen closed out a 2-1 win over the Tigers at the Coliseum for the A's fifth win in a row.
"These are the types of things that winning teams possess," Jackson said. "It's the games like this that make or break a season for a team. It's not necessarily blowouts, it's how many one-run games can you win."
Khris Davis said: "These one-run ball games. It feels like we're going to win them. That's a good feeling."
Davis and Matt Chapman provided the offense with a solo homer each as the A's increased their lead over the Mariners to 2 1/2 games for the second Wild Card spot and moved within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees for the first Wild Card position, with the Yankees losing to the Red Sox earlier on Saturday.
Jackson tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and no earned runs while walking one, putting together his second solid start in a row after throwing 5 2/3 shutout frames against the Blue Jays on Monday. He threw 78 pitches on Saturday, and lowered his ERA to 2.87 in eight starts this season; Jackson has not finished a season with a sub-3.00 ERA since his rookie campaign in 2003.
"You look at his numbers, he's doing his best work here," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's really comfortable here. For a guy who's been around as long as he has, he's inspired by being in a race like this."
Jackson handed things off to the consistent duo of Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen. Trivino went 1 2/3 innings, while Treinen pitched the ninth to earn his 28th save. The A's bullpen has converted 33-of-42 save opportunities this season, tying the Yankees for the best save percentage in the Majors.
"Good starting staff helps the bullpen be that much better, because they can be rested," Jackson said. "Those guys come in and they get the job done."
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Giving the bullpen a lead also helps shake a little fear into the opposing side.
"When you have a bullpen like that and you have a lead late in a game, it makes the other team a little nervous when you don't have a lead late in a game against that bullpen," Melvin said.
The only run scored against Jackson was unearned, when Nick Martini and Marcus Semien collided on a pop fly by the Tigers' JaCoby Jones to lead off the game. Jones later scored on a two-out single by Jeimer Candelario.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The A's jumped ahead thanks to a flurry of home runs in the third inning off Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann. After tripling in the first, Chapman blasted a line-drive homer to center on a down-the-middle fastball to tie the game at 1-1. Two batters later, Davis launched a solo shot of his own to left, his 30th of the season, to give the A's the lead. It was all the offense the A's needed on Saturday.
"People haven't even seen what he's really capable of," Chapman said on Davis. "He's coming into his own. He's just right in his prime years. I think he's capable of more."
Chapman's two-hit night extended his on-base streak to 20 games, which is tied with the Indians' Jose Ramirez for the longest active streak in the American League. He is 26-for-77 (.338) during this stretch.
"That ball was struck pretty good," Melvin said on Chapman's home run. "It looks like a base hit up the middle, and next thing you know, it's going over the center-field wall. The more he plays, the more comfortable he's going to get. … He's just going to get better and better."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ramon Laureano is just two games in to his big league career, but he is already making a name for himself in the outfield. He recorded his second outfield assist in as many days, throwing out Mike Gerber trying to stretch a single into a double in the fifth inning.
"You'll be talking about his arm some," Melvin said. "We'll see that on a pretty consistent basis. Especially at the center-field position, you don't see guys throwing like that. He's got a right fielder's arm that's playing in center right now."
Then, in the seventh, he made a sliding catch to rob Candelario of a base hit.
"Looks like off the bat that's going to be a hit," Melvin said. "And if you don't come up with it clean, maybe a double. He ends up coming out of nowhere to get it."
HE SAID IT
"It's just playing with the confidence we've been getting these last 40 games or so and just riding that wave every day. That confidence is there when we take the field. It's pretty extreme right now." -- Melvin, on the A's success
Trevor Cahill (3-2, 3.39 ERA) will pitch for the A's in the series finale against the Tigers on Sunday. Cahill is 2-0 with a 4.87 ERA over his last four starts, earning the win on Tuesday against the Blue Jays, after allowing two runs in six innings. The Tigers will send veteran southpaw Francisco Liriano (3-5, 4.41 ERA) to the mound. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum.
Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.