Athletics rally to beat Tigers in ninth, win eighth straight

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Matt Olson scored from second base on a fielding error by Detroit third baseman Jeimer Candelario with two outs in the ninth inning, rallying the Oakland Athletics past the Tigers 3-2 on Sunday for their eighth straight win.

Sean Murphy hit a tying home run in the eighth as the A’s swept the four-game series.

“We feel pretty good about the way we’re playing right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We weren’t getting a ton of good swings, but as long as we’re close we feel like we find a way to win the game.”

Olson hit a one-out double off Gregory Soto (1-0) when Tigers center fielder Victor Reyes lost a high fly ball in the sun. After Matt Chapman struck out looking, Murphy walked before pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland hit a sharp grounder that rolled under Candelario’s glove into left field.

“Everything that kind of could go wrong did go wrong in this four-game series,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We didn’t hit and then ultimately we just couldn’t finish them all off. I thought today was a breakthrough day for us early and then ultimately they did more than we did to win.”

Ramon Laureano had an RBI triple for the A’s.

The A’s are 9-1 since starting the season 0-6.

“Everybody’s kind of rolling right now,” said Moreland, who had a walkoff single to beat the Dodgers on April 7. “We feel good as a group. Seems we’re playing good baseball on all sides of it.”

Harold Castro had three hits for the Tigers, including a two-run single in the sixth that snapped Detroit’s 23-inning scoreless streak.

The Tigers have lost four straight after sweeping three from the Astros in Houston.

“Just how it happens,” starting pitcher Matthew Boyd said. “I wouldn’t say it’s any sort of luck or anything like that. I had an opportunity to close out the eighth inning and gave up a run.”

Lou Trivino (1-0) retired three batters for the win.

STRONG STARTS

Both starters pitched effectively but left with no-decisions.

Detroit’s Boyd gave up four hits and two runs in 7 1/3 innings. Murphy’s home run was the first off Boyd this season after the lefty allowed an AL-leading 15 in the shortened 2020 season.

A’s starter Chris Bassitt struck out a season-high eight in six innings and allowed five hits and two runs.

ESCAPE ACT

Bassitt pitched himself into trouble in the first but wriggled out of the jam with a little luck. After Tigers leadoff man Robbie Grossman walked and Candelario singled, Willi Castro lofted a short fly that fell in front of A’s center fielder Laureano. Laureano alertly threw to third to nail Grossman, who had paused to see if the ball would drop. Wilson Ramos singled to load the bases but Bassitt retired Renato Nunez on a popup then fanned Harold Castro on three pitches.

“I was trying to pitch a little bit too much in the first and hit spots instead of going right at them,” Bassitt said.

MELVIN’S MILESTONE

The game marked the 1,471st for Melvin as manager of the A’s, tying current White Sox skipper Tony La Russa for second most in Oakland history. Connie Mack holds the franchise record with 7,396. “It means I’ve dodged a few bullets along the way and remained in place,” said Melvin, whose 776 wins are 22 fewer than La Russa’s.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Spencer Turnbull threw a bullpen at the Tigers’Triple-A facility in Toledo and is scheduled to come off the IL to pitch against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Turnbull has been on the COVID-19 list since March 29.

Athletics: OF Stephen Piscotty is due to come off the paternity list Monday.

UP NEXT

Tigers: Following a day off, RHP Michael Fulmer (1-0. 3.00 ERA) faces the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday to begin a seven-game homestand.

Athletics: Melvin is undecided on his rotation for the series against the Twins after Monday’s game was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns involving some of the Minnesota players. A doubleheader is scheduled for Tuesday pending further testing.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.