The Oakland Athletics had never given up a grand slam when leading by three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning – that is until Monday night.
Rajai Davis connected with one out in the ninth, lifting the Detroit Tigers to a 5-4 victory over the A’s.
“That’s a tough loss,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You have to get all 27 outs. We’ve come back and won games like that, and now we’ve lost one.”
Melvin gave the ball to closer Sean Doolittle with a three-run lead, but he only managed one out.
Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila started the inning with singles. Eugenio Suarez struck out, but Doolittle (2-2) walked Austin Jackson – just the second walk he has issued this season – to load the bases. Jackson fouled off three straight 2-2 pitches before taking a pair of fastballs inside.
“That was a hell of a battle,” Doolittle said. “You could really see him shorten up his swing with two strikes, and he did a real good job.”
Doolittle missed the strike zone with a curveball, then hung another one over the middle of the plate.
“I just hung the crap out of it,” he said. “I threw some good pitches, but I threw some bad ones, and the last one cost us the game.”
Davis didn’t miss, hitting the ball out down the left-field line for his third career grand slam and his first game-ending homer.
“That was amazing,” he said. “Austin had a great at-bat, and then I got a pitch that was middle or middle-in. It didn’t do much. I wasn’t sure if I got enough it – I was just hoping the wind would blow it out.”
Scott Kazmir left the game in the sixth, one pitch after appearing to grab at his hip, but Dan Otero replaced him and kept the game tied through seven innings.
“My calf just cramped up,” Kazmir said. “I was OK until I tried to push off.”
Cespedes also cramped up – his left hamstring – and Melvin said he didn’t expect him to play on Tuesday.
Oakland broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth, helped by a Tigers defensive mistake. Yoenis Cespedes led off with a routine grounder to short, but Suarez’s throw sailed well over Cabrera’s head at first. Brandon Moss followed with an RBI into the left-center field gap, and Sanchez walked Josh Donaldson.
Joba Chamberlain came in and allowed a single to Stephen Vogt, loading the bases. Jed Lowrie made it 4-1 with a single to left, but Phil Coke replaced Chamberlain and almost got out of the inning as quickly as possible.
Castellanos grabbed Alberto Callaspo’s grounder, stepped on third and threw to Ian Kinsler at second for a double play. Kinsler relayed the ball to first, hoping for a 5-4-3 triple play, but Callaspo beat the throw.
Detroit’s rally took Anibal Sanchez off the hook – he now hasn’t lost in his last 10 starts. Blaine Hardy (1-0) picked up his first career victory with a scoreless top of the ninth.
Sanchez, who struck out his 1,000th career batter in the fourth, lost his shutout in the sixth on Lowrie’s RBI single, but Miguel Cabrera tied the game in the bottom of the inning, crushing a 2-2 changeup into the Oakland bullpen beyond the left-centerfield fence.
NOTES: Tigers DH Victor Martinez was a late scratch because of a sore side, and was replaced by J.D. Martinez. … The Athletics have only allowed three game-ending grand slams since World War II, with two coming against Detroit. The first for the Tigers was in 1983, when Lance Parrish hit one off Jeff Jones, who is now Detroit’s pitching coach.
Updated July 1, 2014