He did just that in the 13th inning on Friday night, delivering a walk-off single with two outs for his first Major League hit to lift the A's over the Tigers, 1-0, at the Coliseum in a marathon pitching duel. After swinging and missing at a slider away earlier in the at-bat against Tigers reliever Buck Farmer, Laureano got a slider in the strike zone, and put a good swing on it.
"I'm shocked," Laureano said. "I'm speechless. It's awesome. I couldn't have imagined it this way."
There was more to his debut. The rookie also took away a runner in scoring position in the top of the 13th, throwing out Jose Iglesias at third when Iglesias stole second and tried to advance further after Jonathan Lucroy's throw went into center field. The play stood upon replay review, sending the A's to bat in the bottom of the frame.
Laureano also made several stellar catches early on, showcasing the athleticism and speed that earned him a callup from Triple-A Nashville before Friday's game.
For manager Bob Melvin, Laureano's defense and clutch hit were equally impressive.
"Guy's in his first big league game, you're 0-for-4 for the first time," Melvin said. "You made a couple nice plays in center field, now you're put in position where you literally win the game on a throw and a big hit. … This is a day he definitely will not forget."
Oakland is now a Major League best 20-9 in one-run games and leads the Majors with 10 extra-inning wins. The A's fourth straight win increased their lead over Seattle to 1 1/2 games in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot, after the Mariners' 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays earlier on Friday. The A's are also 31-10 since June 16, the best record in baseball.
On Friday, they banked on a formula that has been rare of late: a starting pitcher lasting into the seventh inning. An A's starter hadn't pitched seven innings or more in a game since Sean Manaea's start on July 4 against the Padres, but Brett Anderson broke the streak with seven shutout frames.
The first five innings featured dueling no-hitters, with Anderson taking a perfect game into the sixth and Tigers starter Blaine Hardy tossing six innings of no-hit baseball before Jed Lowrie recorded an infield hit to lead off the seventh inning.
"Their guy was pitching very well on the other side too," Anderson said. "I was just trying to go out there and put up a zero, based on the way he was pitching. Gave us a chance. One of the better starts I've had in a while."
Prior to the 13th inning, only one runner had reached third in the game -- the Tigers' Nicholas Castellanos in the seventh.
Anderson retired the first 17 batters before surrendering a double to Iglesias with one out. But he finished the inning unscathed, and then pitched out of a jam in the seventh after allowing the first two hitters to reach to end his night.
Anderson's line of seven shutout innings, giving up two hits and one walk, marked the veteran's best outing of the season; he had only pitched longer than six innings once this year. He had just two strikeouts, but pitched well to contact, as more than half his outs came on ground balls. It was also the fifth time this season Anderson has allowed one walk or fewer.
"You know what the score is," Anderson said. "You look up at the linescore and realize there hasn't been a lot of hits on both sides. You just go out there and put up a zero. With our bullpen and offense you know we're going to come through. It just took a little longer than most."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Laureano will grab the headlines, but the A's bullpen was the unsung hero, shutting out the Tigers after Anderson departed. Blake Treinen and Yusmeiro Petit both pitched two innings, and Jeurys Familia and Emilio Pagan went one frame each. Only three men reached scoring position for the Tigers after the seventh.
"You almost get to the point where you expect it," Melvin said. "You have to be perfect. There's no room for error."
SOUND SMART The A's have won 10 straight games against the Tigers, the longest streak in Oakland franchise history. The Philadelphia A's won 10 straight over Detroit in 1931.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Laureano's assist was not the only important defensive play of the game for the A's. Stephen Piscotty made a spectacular grab in the 10th inning to keep the Tigers from scoring a go-ahead run, robbing Iglesias of a hit with a man on second and two outs. Piscotty laid out to make a catch on a ball that had a 34-percent catch probability.
HE SAID IT "I guarantee you in that situation there in the end he's not thinking, 'Oh I need my first big league hit.' He's just trying to get a hit to help the team win. He's in position to win the game. He got a good swing and drove it. It's impressive. We were impressed with him in Spring Training. Nice first showing for him." -- Melvin, on Laureano's game-winning at-bat
UP NEXT Edwin Jackson gets the start in the second game of the series against the Tigers on Saturday night. Fresh off earning his 100th career win, the veteran will aim for another solid outing since joining the A's midseason. The Tigers will send Jordan Zimmermann (4-3, 4.44 ERA) to the mound. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum.
Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.