Melvin: 'We had some opportunities, we just couldn't cash in'
Torii Hunter is congratulated by teammates after his third inning home run. (AP)
OAKLAND -- It's a tale as old as time. The A's build up crazy momentum and then Justin Verlander takes it all away. The Detroit Tigers beat the A's 7-3 on Saturday and Verlander is now 5-0 in his last five starts against the A's. Over that span, he has allowed three runs in 35 innings.
The Tigers' ace snapped the A's nine-game winning streak. He also stalled a red-hot A's team in Game One of the American League Division Series in 2012, and ended the A's season in Game Five, after they had won two games in a row to even the series at two apiece.
The A's struggled with both Verlander and home plate umpire Andy Fletcher. The umpire drew criticism from A's batters and manager Bob Melvin, who eventually was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
At the Plate
The A's jumped to an early lead on Verlander. It would be short lived, though. Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson reached on back-to-back singles. Derek Norris drove Smith home when he crushed a ball that bounced off Miguel Cabrera's glove.
The A's had a similar rally in the fourth inning, but this time Smith and Donaldson both reached on walks. Verlander bounced back and struck out Eric Sogard and beat Norris with a strikeout looking to work his way out of the inning.
Verlander was too much for the A's offense to handle, especially with three of their best hitters out of the starting lineup. Yoenis Cespedes was put on the DL before the game, and Coco Crisp was out with a left groin strain.
When Verlander left the game, Oakland rallied against reliever Al Aburquerque, who infamously caught a ball and kissed it against the A's in the playoffs. Sogard and Norris both drew walks and later scored when Young hit a two-run double to cut into the Tigers' lead and made it 7-3.
The A's responded to their skipper's ejection in the eighth inning by loading the bases. Bench coach Chip Hale called for Jed Lowrie to pinch hit with two outs, but he struck out looking to end the inning and leave three stranded base runners.
Starting Pitching Report
Brett Anderson had an uncharacteristically bad start. He gave up seven runs and a career-high tying three home runs. It is unclear if the thumb contusion he suffered against the Astros last Sunday effected his control. He did have an extra day off prior to his start on Saturday.
The A's took the lead in the second inning, but Anderson had trouble with the shutdown frame. He allowed a monstrous solo home run to Torii Hunter that cleared the left field bleachers and landed just shy of the luxury suites.
Prince Fielder gave the Tigers the lead when he clubbed a solo home run to right field to start the third. Fielder started a stretch of five Tigers' hitters that would reach base consecutively. With two on and no outs, Jhonny Peralta hit a three-run home run to left field to give Detroit a 5-1 lead.
On the pitch before Peralta's home run, Anderson slipped and fell in his followthrough. Verlander also had trouble with the same spot on the mound in the fourth inning.
Anderson left the game after allowing an RBI double in the sixth inning.
Pat Neshek entered in relief of Anderson in the sixth inning and allowed an RBI double to Austin Jackson. The run was charged to Anderson. Neshek stayed in the game and pitched through the eighth inning.
Evan Scribner pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
In the Field
The A's left side of the infield opened the game with two stunning plays. Donaldson made a nice stop and throw on a ball hit by Jackson to start the game. On the next play, Andy Parrino made a full extension diving play to rob Hunter of a single.
The A's announced a sell-out crowd of of 35,067.
I got hungry and went for a hot dog. As a result, I missed the dot race. Apologies.
The A's and Tigers will play the rubber match of the series on Sunday. Jarrod Parker (0-1, 6.48 ERA) will take the mound against the Tigers and Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 1.50 ERA) draws the start for the Tigers.