OAKLAND — The A’s took advantage of some incredibly good fortune to stage a come-from-behind rally Sunday and pull out a victory.
Now they hope some bad fortune doesn’t come attached to it.
Left-hander Rich Hill exited in the seventh inning of a 4-2 win over Detroit with an injury of unknown nature or severity. Manager Bob Melvin went to the mound with assistant trainer Walt Horn with one out and a runner on first, and after a long consultation, Hill walked off the field with Horn at his side.
There was no immediate word on what it was that bothered him. Hill wound up winning his fifth consecutive start, continuing a push that could lead to an All-Star appearance if he’s able to remain taking the ball every fifth day. The last thing the A’s need is an injury to the man who’s been their best pitcher in 2016 and one of the most effective starters in the entire American League.
Hill is 7-1 with a 1.76 ERA over his past eight starts. He’s 8-3 overall, and those eight wins are the most for an A’s starter before the end of May since Mark Mulder had eight back in 2003.
The A’s trailed 2-0 when they rallied for three runs in the sixth to take control. The door to that rally was opened thanks to a two-out error by Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler that allowed Oakland’s first run to score.
Starting pitching report
Hill’s command wasn’t spot-on early, but he still went 6 1/3 innings and gave up two runs. He struck out nine and walked three. Both runs off him came on two-out singles, one from James McCann in the second and another from Victor Martinez in the third. His overall ERA rose a tick to 2.25.
Melvin went with Ryan Madson in the eighth and Sean Doolittle for the ninth, as Doolittle notched a 1-2-3 inning for the save. It was Madson who handled the heart of Detroit’s order in a 12-pitch eighth. This was his first outing since allowing a walk-off homer in Seattle on Wednesday, and it was unclear immediately after the game if an official switch of closers has taken place or not.
At the plate
You had to like the matchup for A’s hitters. Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey entered the game with an 0-3 record and 11.05 ERA in three career starts against Oakland. But the right-hander was tough on them. All six hits he allowed came with two outs, but the A’s finally broke through in the sixth with some help.
Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler booted Yonder Alonso’s two-out grounder that allowed Danny Valencia to score from third and cut the A’s deficit to 2-1. After a walk to Marcus Semien loaded the bases, lefty reliever Justin Wilson was called upon to relieve Pelfrey. Melvin called on Billy Butler to pinch-hit for Chris Coghlan, and Butler delivered a two-run go-ahead single, as his soft fly ball to right-center fell in front of a diving Cameron Maybin. Pelfrey (0-5) couldn’t have been too pleased by the end of that inning. All three runs were charged to him, though none were earned.
Butler drove in five runs over the final two games of the series.
In the field
The A’s turned in an errorless game.
A crowd of 20,522 was on hand.
The A’s welcome the Minnesota Twins, owners of the American League’s worst record, for a three-game set beginning Monday. The holiday opener pits Kendall Graveman (1-6, 5.36) against Ervin Santana (1-3, 4.17) in a 1:10 p.m. game. On Tuesday, the A’s will recall Eric Surkamp (0-3, 6.55) to match up against Tyler Duffey (2-2, 3.93) at 7:05 p.m. The series, and homestand, wraps with Wednesday’s 12:35 p.m. game, as Sean Manaea (1-3, 7.03) and lefty Pat Dean (1-1, 3.43) face off.