Lefty excels in A's debut, giving club third straight win over O's
By Mark Chiarelli
OAKLAND -- A's starter Ross Detwiler knew he needed to locate his pitches lower in the strike zone, and needed to do it quickly. In a game as close as Wednesday night's 1-0 win over the Orioles, the slightest of adjustments made a critical difference.
Baltimore roped a single and a double to open the game, the double by J.J. Hardy appearing to drive in Adam Jones on a close play at the plate, when he narrowly beat a throw home by Max Muncy from shallow center field.
But an A's challenge showed Jones' front foot never touched the plate, and he was instead tagged out by A's catcher Bruce Maxwell. Detwiler induced ensuing groundouts from Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo, ultimately left the inning unscathed, and a rousing A's debut was underway.
"I told myself right there, "I gotta get the ball down a little bit,' because they were hitting it pretty hard," Detwiler said. "It's about getting ahead and executing pitches later in the game."
That, he most certainly did. Detwiler threw eight scoreless innings, allowing only six hits while striking out two in his Oakland debut. Baltimore didn't advance a runner past second base after the first inning, and didn't even manage a hit in Detwiler's final three frames.
It was quite the introduction, considering Detwiler was officially added to the 40-man roster just hours earlier after Oakland designated Patrick Schuster for assignment, and Detwiler hadn't made a start in the Majors in over a year.
"It was way more than we expected," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Credit to him."
Detwiler won as a Major League starter for the first time since May 10, 2013, when he was a part of the Nationals' rotation. He's played for the Rangers, Braves and Indians since, and was traded from Cleveland to Oakland on July 17 for cash considerations. The A's assigned him to Triple-A, where he went 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA.
He's only been in the A's clubhouse a day, and it showed. He didn't realize how much foul ground there is at the Coliseum, saying it provided him a few extra outs, and he only knew a few A's prior to joining the team. Still, he said joining the A's has "renewed" his love for the game following a long year.
If he'll continue as a member of the A's starting rotation moving forward is unclear. But the boost he gave to Oakland's pitching staff Wednesday night wasn't lost on Melvin following the game. Melvin was limited in options out of the bullpen -- Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks were unavailable -- and John Axford was scheduled to pitch the ninth inning, if necessary.
Once Detwiler showcased a variety of pitches, including offspeed pitches that he said became better as the game progressed, Melvin stuck with him.
"To give us eight, I mean I never would've expected it, but it was an easy decision to let him go back out," Melvin said.
Detwiler becomes the latest low-profile A's starter to quiet a powerful Orioles offense, following Kendall Graveman and Zach Neal. Oakland starters have won three consecutive games for the first time since May 28-30. In total, 12 pitchers have started games for them this year.
The 30-year-old lefty did his best to temper his enthusiasm following the win.
"I think it's a good start but it's just one good start," he said. "You still have six, seven starts left. Maybe even more than that. I don't really know what day it is. It's a good step in the right direction."
Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.