Two years after Dallas Braden’s tear-jerking perfect game at the Oakland Coliseum, the American League’s reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner stifled an injury-plagued A’s lineup by tossing a Mother’s Day gem of his own.
Justin Verlander wasn’t completely unblemished in the Detroit Tigers’ 3-1 victory over the A’s on Sunday afternoon, but he was sharp, nevertheless. In seven innings of work, the Tigers’ ace — who battled a blister on his pitching thumb — allowed only three A’s batters to reach base, while striking out eight.
“He’s their ace for a reason,” A’s first baseman Daric Barton said. “We’ve got to tip our hats to him.”
But Verlander (4-1) wasn’t exactly facing the 1927 New York Yankees on Sunday; the A’s starting lineup featured five players hitting below the Mendoza line (.200), a reflection of the injury bug sweeping through the clubhouse right now.
Brandon Inge (groin soreness), Jemile Weeks (ankle), Kila Ka’aihue (hamstring) and Kurt Suzuki (thumb) were all scratched from the lineup Sunday because of day-to-day injuries. The A’s are also missing Coco Crisp (ear) and rookie slugger Yoenis Cespedes (left hand), who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday.
“Through the course of the season, you have some games likes this,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said, adding: “We just came up short against, actually, three pretty good pitchers today.”
Melvin said he wasn’t sure what his lineup card would like when the A’s launch a seven-game road trip in Anaheim today, but Inge and Weeks seemed to be the most likely to return. Cespedes will be eligible to play May 22.
It wasn’t all frowns in the A’s clubhouse, though. Rookie pitcher Jarrod Parker — obtained from Arizona in the Trevor Cahill trade — had another stellar outing, allowing two earned runs on six hits over 5²⁄³ innings.
“He had us in the game the whole time,” Barton said. “Tough matchup going up against Verlander, but he pitched his butt off.”
The Tigers opened the scoring in the fifth on an RBI single from Miguel Cabrera and added another run in the sixth when former-closer Grant Balfour issued a walk with the bases loaded. Austin Jackson scored an insurance run in the ninth.
The only offense the A’s mustered against Verlander was a Josh Reddick single in the fourth, a homer from Seth Smith in the fifth and a Smith walk in the seventh. The A’s had a chance to tie the game in the eighth when Barton reached second base with one out, but reliever Joaquin Benoit shut the door with back-to-back strikeouts.