OAKLAND -- The Tigers spent most of the weekend here competing with the hottest team in baseball, one swing away from beating the A's for most of this three-game series. They cannot be accused of shying away from those swings.As the A's finally pulled away Sunday, fueled by two-run homers
OAKLAND -- The Tigers spent most of the weekend here competing with the hottest team in baseball, one swing away from beating the A's for most of this three-game series. They cannot be accused of shying away from those swings.
As the A's finally pulled away Sunday, fueled by two-run homers from Matt Chapman and Matt Olson off Detroit's bullpen, the Tigers limped out of town with a 6-0 loss, completing a sweep of the seven-game season set between the two clubs. But the getaway rout overshadowed 2 1/2 games of closely played baseball, Detroit's pitching staff holding down an opportunistic A's lineup in hopes that an inexperienced Tigers lineup would break out.
It didn't, but not for lack of trying. With 10 strikeouts over six scoreless innings Sunday, Trevor Cahill (4-2) continued the path that Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson trekked before him, using the youthful aggressiveness of Detroit's current lineup against it. All but one of those strikeouts came on swing-and-misses, including four batters in a row from the fifth inning into the sixth.
"We didn't score," manager Ron Gardenhire summarized. "We didn't put enough runs on the board. They pitched good. We chased a lot of pitches. It's one of those series. These guys are hot. They're playing good baseball. They take advantage of it. And that's kind of the way the whole series went."
The Tigers scored one run over 31 innings this series, a first-inning tally Saturday that reached on an error. They hadn't been held to one-run in any three-game stretch since 2013, also on a West Coast trip, and hadn't scored so little in three games against one team since the Orioles shut them out over three games in Baltimore at the end of the 1995 season. Their 15th shutout this season marks their highest total since their 119-loss season of 2013, when they were shut out 17 times.
And yet, Detroit either led, was tied or stood within a run for 25 innings of 31 innings this weekend. Tigers starters allowed four runs on 12 hits over 18 1/3 innings for the series, only to be outdone by an Athletics rotation that combined for 19 1/3 innings of one-run ball with 15 strikeouts.
Tigers batters entered the series with a 36 percent chase rate since July 1. No other Major League team was higher than 30 percent. A's pitchers surely noticed that and took advantage, sending hitters swinging at breaking pitches as the Tigers tried to find the big swing to launch them out of their collective offensive funk. Cahill's 93rd and final pitch of the afternoon was his lone called third strike, a breaking ball on the outside corner that drew the ire of Jeimer Candelario with a runner on to end the sixth inning.
"I just told myself: I don't want to chase," Candelario said, "because he throws a lot of breaking balls for balls. He gets you chase, gets you to swing. I just want to be a hard out."
Cahill struck out every member of the Tigers' starting lineup except Niko Goodrum, who hit an infield single to go with a groundout and flyout before Lou Trivino induced a first-pitch double play from him to thwart a seventh-inning scoring threat.
Tigers starter Francisco Liriano (3-6) showed he's well past the severe allergic reaction that sidelined him a week ago, but a two-run fourth inning -- including Khris Davis' 31st home run of the season and a Ramon Laureano RBI single -- proved too much. Chapman's homer off Daniel Stumpf in the seventh inning provided the A's bullpen with a cushion before Olson's drive off Joe Jimenez an inning later put the game away.
The Tigers have lost their last 12 meetings with the A's, the longest such streak in a rivalry of original American League clubs that dates back to 1901.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Jose Iglesias has made a habit of knocking down hard-hit balls all season, but his latest denied the A's a leadoff runner in the sixth. Mark Canha greeted reliever Victor Alcantara in the sixth with a ball in the hole at a 98.6 mph exit velocity and a 57 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™, but Iglesias went to the ground to stop it before firing to first for the out.
HE SAID IT
"The more at-bats you get in this league, the better you're going to understand what a pitcher's trying to do to you. We just don't have those at-bats right now. We have a lot of young hitters. They're going to grow, they're going to get better, but it just takes time." -- Gardenhire
The Tigers head down California's coast to Anaheim, where they'll open a three-game series against the Angels on Monday night with a 10:07 p.m. ET game. Matthew Boyd (6-9, 4.22 ERA) gets the start and is looking to build on his eight scoreless innings and seven strikeouts in his start Tuesday. Nick Tropeano (4-6, 4.94 ERA) starts for the Halos.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.