Athletics manager Bob Melvin issued a pregame message to his slumping team to grind out at-bats rather look for home runs.
Fortunately for the A’s, the players didn’t exactly follow that advice.
Kyle Blanks homered in his home debut at the Coliseum, Derek Norris capped Oakland’s five-homer day with a grand slam and the A’s snapped a four-game skid with a 10-0 win Monday over the Detroit Tigers.
“We’ve shown that we can hit some home runs, and we did that today,” Melvin said. “But over the last couple of days we wanted to impress upon, pass the baton, make guys work, get in good counts. … It just turned out that we hit some homers today.”
Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson each hit their 12th home run and Yoenis Cespedes also went deep for the A’s, who broke out of their slump by getting homers from five players for the first time since 2009.
That backed another strong start from Tommy Milone (3-3), who allowed four hits in 6 2-3 innings to improve to 3-0 with a 1.03 ERA in his past four starts after making an adjustment to shorten his stride.
“I think it’s really helped with my command,” Milone said. “I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve seen from before and now is command with the fastball and keeping everything low in the zone.”
Drew Smyly (2-3) allowed a career-worst four home runs for the Tigers, who have lost seven of eight.
“It was like, is this really happening?” Smyly said. “I felt good and I felt like I was making good pitches. Then I’d just leave one up, home run. Leave the next one up, home run. Bury the next one, home run.”
Oakland returned home mired in its worst losing streak of the season, having scored seven runs in the four losses to Tampa Bay and Toronto.
That led to the pregame message to take the “slow torture” approach of grinding out at-bats rather than the “instant kill” of a home run that ends a rally rather than starts one.
“Homers can be rally killers but when you end up hitting four or five of them on the day you can probably make a different statement,” Norris said.
Oakland responded with homers from five players for the first time since Jack Cust, Kurt Suzuki, Mark Ellis, Daric Barton and Cliff Pennington did it Sept. 11, 2009, at Minnesota.
That helped the A’s win the first meeting of the year against the team that eliminated them in Game 5 of the division series the past two postseasons.
After squandering a prime scoring chance in the first inning when Oakland put runners on first and third with no outs, the A’s got to Smyly with the long ball.
Moss got it started with a drive that hit off the glove of a leaping Austin Jackson and went over the center-field fence in the second inning.
“He almost came up with it,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Unfortunately for us it snapped out of his glove. Part of me thinks it might have changed the course of the game, but we’ll never know.”
Two batters later, Blanks hit a no-doubt shot to left-center for his first home run since being acquired May 15.
Oakland wasn’t done, getting back-to-back shots from Donaldson and Cespedes in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead to the delight of the third sellout crowd of the season at the Coliseum.
Norris hit his first career slam in the eighth off Phil Coke in a rally helped by a catcher’s interference call against Bryan Holaday and an error by third baseman Nick Castellanos.
NOTES: Oakland is 20-3 when scoring first. … Smyly was the first Tigers pitcher to allow four homers in a game since Max Scherzer did it in a 10-7 win over the Yankees on April 3, 2011. … Miguel Cabrera started at 1B for the Tigers a day after leaving early with a right hamstring cramp. 2B Ian Kinsler got the day off. … Scherzer (6-1) starts for Detroit on Tuesday against Sonny Gray (5-1) in a matchup of two of the top starters in baseball.
Updated May 26, 2014