OAKLAND – Left-hander Scott Kazmir got the victory he so much deserved, and he got it in emphatic fashion.
Josh Donaldson drilled a three-run walkoff homer off Detroit’s Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth to lift the A’s to a 3-1 victory that will go down as one of their most memorable victories of 2014.
The A’s mustered just two hits off the Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez heading into the ninth and trailed 1-0. But they put runners on the corners with one out, as Nathan relieved Sanchez afer Coco Crisp’s double. John Jaso singled, then Donaldson ripped the first pitch he saw for a three-run shot over the left field wall for the second walkoff homer of his career.
That made a winner of Kazmir (6-2), who threw just the second complete game of his 10-year Major League career.
The A’s mobbed Donaldson as he touched home plate in the ninth as the crowd went into delirium.
Starting pitching report
Kazmir scattered six hits. He struck out eight and walked none. The only other complete game for the two-time All-Star came on July 3, 2006, when he threw a two-hitter in a 3-0 shutout of Boston while he was with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Like Sanchez, Kazmir did a masterful job of mixing his fastball and off-speed stuff. His pitch count sat at 89 after eight innings, and with no one stirring in the A’s bullpen, it was obvious the veteran lefty would come out for the ninth.
He had plenty in the tank in that final inning, popping the catcher’s mitt as high as 94 miles per hour.
Kazmir had just one pitch to regret, and the game turned on it. He left a 3-2 pitch up in the zone to Torii Hunter in the fourth, and Hunter took it the other way for a home run over the elevated wall in right-center.
The A’s relief corps got the night off and watched a classic.
At the plate
The A’s enjoyed success against Sanchez (2-2, 2.49 ERA) last year in a regular season game at Comerica Park, working his pitch and driving him from the game after five innings. No such luck for most of Wednesday night. The Tigers right-hander was in complete command, throwing low-90’s fastballs past the A’s and getting them to lunge at his off-speed stuff. There was little in the way of hard contact from Oakland hitters.
The A’s got just one runner as far as second base until the ninth – that came on Eric Sogard’s double with one out in the sixth.
In the field
Fans saw a rarity Wednesday night, as A’s right fielder Josh Reddick over-ran a foul fly ball and had it bounce off his glove near the visitor’s bullpen. He made up for it one pitch later. J.D. Martinez lined a ball toward the foul line and Reddick made a nice running grab to end the top of the fourth.
Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera has looked surprisingly spry at first base in this series. He made a nice sliding stop on Jed Lowrie’s sharp grounder in the eighth and also snared Brandon Moss’ liner after Josh Donaldson singled with two outs in the fourth.
A crowd of 15,590 was announced.
Jesse Chavez (4-2, 2.61) takes the mound for the A’s in the finale of this four-game series Thursday against Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.88). First pitch is 12:35 p.m.