Ben Zobrist’s first season with the A’s has been downplayed because of his team’s poor record and a knee injury that sidelined him for a month.
But the veteran put a charge into a seventh-inning pitch Tuesday and authored his biggest moment yet in green and gold. His grand slam off reliever Angel Nesbitt pulled the rug out from under the Detroit Tigers and lifted the A’s to a 5-3 victory at Comerica Park.
With that, Oakland continued its turnaround in dramatic fashion. The A’s have won four of their past five, notching the kind of comeback victory Tuesday that has eluded them all season. They trailed 3-1 before Zobrist connected off Nesbitt with the bases loaded and lined a shot over the right field wall.
The switch hitter came in batting .250 with two RBI since returning to the active roster after knee surgery April 28, and he’s been quiet as he’s worked his way back into rhythm. He was coming off a 2-for-12 series against the Yankees over the weekend.
He came through in a big way Tuesday, and the A’s continued their roll after taking three of four from New York for their first home series win of the season.
Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard closed out the victory as the A’s won for the seventh time in 10 games.
Starting pitching report:
Kendall Graveman endured a stormy fourth inning, when the Tigers struck for all of their runs off him. The damage all came with two outs, with a wild pitch scoring Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos delivering a two-run single. Yet when all was said and done, Graveman (3-2) not only had turned in a “quality start” by definition, he was rewarded with a victory. The right-hander went six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out one.
Scribner was excellent in relief of Graveman, retiring all six batters he faced over the seventh and eighth innings. Then Clippard polished it off in the ninth for his eighth save.
At the plate:
Until Zobrist’s blast, it was shaping up as a night of missed opportunities for the A’s. They put two runners in scoring position with two outs in the first but Josh Reddick flied out to right. Three straight walks from Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon (5-3) in the fourth loaded the bases with two outs but Marcus Semien flight out to deep right.
Simon walked five total but exited the game with a 3-1 lead in the seventh. And it wasn’t long ago that letting a starter off the hook like that would have been the primary explanation for an A’s defeat. But the mojo surrounding this club has taken a turn for the better over the past 10 games. Simon left the game after Billy Burns’ RBI single, and Zobrist, batting left-handed, lit into an 0-1 pitch from Angel Nesbitt and lined his sixth career grand slam for a 5-3 A’s lead. Leadoff man Billy Burns enjoyed his fifth consecutive multi-hit game and is hitting .333.
In the field:
Underrated moment: With runners on second and third and one out, Graveman fielded Anthony Gose’s bunt and executed a rundown perfectly that caught Tyler Collins between third and home. The Tigers didn’t score that inning.
28,362 was the announced attendance.
Sonny Gray (6-2, 1.82) takes the ball in Wednesday’s 4:08 p.m. game, opposed by Anibal Sanchez (3-6, 5.75). Since 1991, the only other A’s starter (who qualifies based on innings) with a sub-2.00 ERA at the end of May was Dan Haren in 2007. Haren was at 1.64.