Colon continues to struggle against Tigers

Colon continues to struggle against Tigers

Colon continues to struggle against Tigers
OAKLAND -- It was another date gone bad with the Tigers for Bartolo Colon on Thursday night.

The introduction was shaky, the middle part bearable and the final interactions simply ugly.

The night, subsequently, ended early for Colon, who allowed a season-high-tying seven earned runs (eight total) over 2 1/3 frames in the A's 10-6 loss, their second in as many days.

In reality, the night marked a continuation of career-long struggles with Detroit for Colon, who has not beaten the Tigers since April 13, 2003. Since that time, he's 0-7 with a 7.97 ERA, spanning 12 appearances, 11 of them starts.

There's hardly an explanation for such numbers, given the turnover that comes about during that span. Manager Bob Melvin shook his head when trying to offer reasoning. Colon, too, failed to come up with a logical answer, following his shortest outing since pitching just two-thirds of an inning on July 14, 2011.

The latest pounding, which overshadowed Brandon Inge's second grand slam in three days, included an eight-run third inning that saw 13 batters come to the plate. Colon, having already offered up a solo homer to Andy Dirks in the first before tossing a scoreless second, was around for eight of them in the third. Six of those eight collected hits, with three notching a double, the last of which was tallied by Brennan Boesch before lefty Jordan Norberto was called in for relief.

But Ramon Santiago followed with another two-bagger, giving the Tigers four in one inning, tying their season high for one game. The eight runs in the frame also represented a season high, surpassing the previous mark of five.

"He was in the middle of the plate a lot, and usually he's not," Melvin said of Colon. "Usually he's on the corners. That's what it looked like to me. It just looked like there were a lot of good swings that you don't normally see off of him."

"He throws a lot of strikes," Santiago said. "He's always 70 percent around the plate, so you have to be aggressive with a pitcher who throws a lot of strikes. We had a good game plan going into the game, and we executed it. He didn't throw a lot of balls, so he's always going to attack you with his fastball."

Colon's velocity also appeared to be down, which Melvin confirmed. But the right-hander wasn't all too shook up by the forgettable outing.

"I felt good, but everything I threw, they connected," Colon said simply. "There's nothing I could do. It's part of the game. I made some mistakes on location, and when you do that in the big leagues, you're going to have trouble."

Particularly against a potent Tigers lineup, even though Detroit's lacked consistency in that department in recent days. By the time the Tigers were done batting around in the third, they had posted as many runs in three innings as they did their previous three nights in Seattle.

"Look at that lineup," Inge said. "That's a team you have to respect on a daily basis, no matter if they've been going good or bad. I've been in that clubhouse. I know they're capable of putting up 30 runs on you one day. They're good. Speaking from an outside perspective, they just need to relax and trust their ability."

The A's, meanwhile, mustered only five hits against Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer, who fanned nine in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up just two runs, both coming courtesy of Kila Ka'aihue's two-run shot to right-center in the second.

It wasn't until Inge's opposite-field grand slam against his former team in the eighth -- his seventh career grand slam -- did a comeback seem plausible, as it forced the Tigers to reach deep in their bullpen and ultimately bring out closer Jose Valverde for the ninth. Inge became the first A's player to hit two grand slams in three games since Jimmie Foxx in 1932.

In nine games with Oakland, Inge has 12 RBIs.

"That's pretty productive," Melvin said. "It's been pretty impressive. He's coming up big in situations with guys on base, and we haven't seen a lot of that here to this point, so it's been very welcomed.

"It was good to see us come back, because that was an ugly game for awhile, and to be able to get their bullpen in the game, their closer in the game, certainly the tenacity is still there, even though we didn't play well early on."

For Inge, it's a matter of playing every day and garnering consistent at-bats, something he wasn't awarded in Detroit earlier this season. Hitting with runners on base, he said, helps all the more. So does the support of his new teammates.

"Honestly, it's just about being relaxed and going out there and playing and having fun, being comfortable around a group of guys that make me feel comfortable," said Inge, who went 1-for-4 and is batting .179. "I'm just taking an approach to the plate and trying to be consistent with it. If anyone said they're trying to do it, they'd be lying. In this game, you take your ups and downs and try to stay level-headed, so by no means am I trying to hit grand slams. It just happened. I'm just trying to have fun, and this is a group of guys that makes it easy."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.