It was a disappointing end for the Oakland Athletics in the last game of the series against the Detroit Tigers today. Oakland had already won the first three games, and they were looking to sweep the Tigers to finish out their time in Detroit. And the Athletics looked good.
Just like with Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander, the A’s hit Detroit’s starting pitcher, Max Scherzer, hard. Jed Lowrie hit a 2-run home run in the first, and the A’s were able to earn four runs over the next three innings on sacrifice flies. Then Josh Donaldson tripled to lead off the fifth, and Brandon Moss hit a home run to deep right. The Athletics were up 6-1 and Scherzer was already at 100 pitches. Then Detroit’s third baseman Michael Cabrera had an awkward slide into second and was taken out of the game with an abdomen injury. The Athletics were feeling confident.
Bartolo Colon, who had recently come off the DL, was on the mound for the A’s and seemed solid. Colon only gave up one run and seven runs. However, he was pulled from that game after five innings and this was the Athletics demise.
Jerry Blevins came in for the Athletics in the bottom of the sixth. Blevins only retired one hitter and allowed three runs, including a solo-home run by Prince Fielder. Dan Otero and Sean Doolittle came in after Blevins and both pitched 1 ⅓ scoreless innings to set up Grant Balfour for a potential 34th save of the season.
But Balfour walked the leadoff hitter and everyone could tell that something was not right. He then walked Fielder before the Athletics were able to get two outs. It was clear that Balfour could barely hit the strike zone. His fastball and curveball wobbled all over the place. Pitches went low, high, and wide. Balfour was 0-2 against Victor Martinez, but could not get that third strike. Martinez hit an RBI that drove in a run for the Tigers. Then Torii Hunter stepped up to the plate and blasted a three-run walk-off home run to win the game for the Tigers 7-6.
When Balfour talked to the media after the game, he said he did not feel right during his warm-up in the bullpen. He knew something was off. Balfour tweeted a sullen tweet after the game that addressed his failure but also gave hope for games to come.
Can’t be perfect. Can only be better. #LetsGoOakland #Athletics #BalfourRAGE
— Grant Balfour (@GrantBalfour)August 30, 2013
Even though the Athletics had a disappointing end to their series against the Tigers, they are now headed back home to Oakland to face the Tampa Bay Rays. If the Athletics put this lose behind them, they will be able to use the energy they found in the Tigers series to win against the Rays.