The Oakland Athletics scored five earned runs in five innings against Justin Verlander Tuesday night, and they likely would’ve added more against Detroit Tigers’ bullpen had it not been for the weather. As it stands, the A’s got a 6-3 win after six innings at Comerica Park before the game was called on account of rain.
The game came to a halt in the sixth after a light drizzle that had been steadily falling throughout the evening turned into a steady pour, and it would be officially called approximately an hour later.
Tommy Milone got the win, throwing five innings with three earned runs — all of them coming in a 34-pitch first inning — with three strikeouts and three walks.
Brandon Moss and Seth Smith both went deep and broke open the game after the teams traded runs early, and Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes each contributed RBI doubles to round out the scoring for the Oakland, which has now scored 14 runs in 15 innings against the AL Central-leading Tigers.
Getting through the first inning proved to be a task for both starters. Verlander started off the game by walking Coco Crisp, and after a single by Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie cleared the bases on a high-arching double that landed just inside the foul line in shallow right field.
Verlander recovered to strike out Moss and Cespedes before walking Smith, and he got Alberto Callaspo to fly out to left to end the inning with Lowrie stranded at second. He was fortunate to limit the damage to two runs, but he threw a career-high 44 pitches in the opening frame.
It looked like his recent struggles were sure to continue against an Oakland offense that gained some confidence in the series opener Monday night.
Fortunately for Detroit, Milone wasn’t much better. The left-hander struggled to find the strike zone from the beginning, throwing four consecutive balls to leadoff man Austin Jackson after a first-pitch strike. Torii Hunter singled to right in the next at-bat, and a cautious approach against Miguel Cabrera resulted in another walk to load the bases for Prince Fielder.
Fielder worked a full count and hit a line drive to right on the payoff pitch to score Jackson and Hunter and tie the game. Milone got Victor Martinez to ground into a double play in the next at-bat, and when Omar Infante hit a soft grounder to second it looked like the inning would be over, but it went under the glove of a charging Callaspo, allowing Cabrera to score from third and give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Callaspo was charged with an error on the play.
After striking out Matt Tuiasosopo to end the inning, Milone was at 34 pitches, and the game time had already reached 45 minutes.
Both pitchers recovered and delivered three-up, three-down second inning performances, but Yoenis Cespedes was able to make Verlander pay for a two-out walk to Brandon Moss in the top of the third. The right-hander left a fastball up and over the plate, and Cespedes homered on a line drive to the left field corner that snapped an 0-for-15 streak at the plate and gave the A’s a 4-3 lead.
Milone avoided a Detroit rally in the bottom of the inning, retiring Omar Infante after walking Prince Fielder and giving up a single to Victor Martinez with two outs. He struck out two in the fourth and didn’t allow a hit the rest of the night.
Before that delay, the A’s used the long ball to take a three-run lead. Lowrie reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, and Moss belted his 22nd home run of the year to left-center to put Oakland up 5-3 as the rain started to come down.
Right-hander Bruce Rondon came out of the bullpen to replace Verlander to start off the sixth, and Seth Smith welcomed him to the game by taking him deep to right-center for his first home run since June 16 to make it 6-3. Oakland would actually load the bases thanks to hits by Callaspo and Stephen Vogt and a walk to Daric Barton, but umpire Will Little called for the tarps to come out after the rain picked up, and it would be called an hour later since the forecast didn’t show any signs of improvement.
The A’s now have a 2-0 lead in a series against a possible playoff opponent, and they certainly needed it after a poor stretch of play the rest of the month. Dan Straily will take on Doug Fister in tomorrow’s game before Bartolo Colon makes a return from a groin injury on Thursday against Max Scherzer for Detroit.