The Oakland Athletics are scoring runs every which way again and they're back to playing their winning brand of baseball.
Stephen Piscotty and Matt Olson homered to back Sean Manaea's first victory of the season, and the A's won their fifth straight game by beating the Detroit Tigers 8-4 on Thursday night.
Piscotty connected in the third inning off Tarik Skubal (0-2), and Olson went deep in the fifth. Elvis Andrus added a sacrifice fly as Manaea (1-1) received plenty of support. He struck out seven and didn't walk a batter over six strong innings.
The left-hander allowed two runs on five hits and has a nine-game winning streak against AL Central teams dating to a victory against Cleveland in August 2016 during his rookie season.
Get a weekly recap of the latest San Francisco Bay Area housing news. Sign up for NBC Bay Area’s Housing Deconstructed newsletter.
Matt Chapman had a two-run double and the defending AL West champs are suddenly surging following a forgettable 0-6 start against the Astros and Dodgers, having won six of seven.
“It’s early and fact of the matter is the first couple series we’re playing a couple of teams that are probably going to be a couple of the best teams in baseball,” Mark Canha said.
“Those are some really good pitching staffs we’re facing early in the year when you’re trying to kind of get your bearings. I think our lineup’s really good and we’re capable of doing that and now we get the ball rolling and I think good things can happen.”
Niko Goodrum homered for Detroit, which was coming off a sweep at Houston in manager A.J. Hinch's return following the sign-stealing scheme that got him fired by the Astros before the shortened 2020 season. That came after a four-game skid by the Tigers and losses in six of seven.
The A's also capitalized on a pair of bases-loaded walks.
“They only put the ball in play three times the inning they put up their big numbers,” Hinch said. “Frustrating night.”
Oakland — which drew a crowd of 3,004 — began a stretch of seven straight games against the AL Central and improved to 66-20 versus that division since June 23, 2017. The A's have scored 37 runs during their winning streak.
“It’s kind of like what we do. We can hit some homers, we draw some walks, we keep pressure on you then get some big hits,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It didn’t happen for us obviously earlier in the season, first six games or so, but since then it’s been complete opposite of what we looked at early on.”
SORRY ABOUT THAT
Last summer, Hinch reached out to Melvin to apologize for his role in the Astros' sign-stealing scam when he managed Houston.
They have a longtime respect and strong working relationship as colleagues from their days together with the Diamondbacks.
“I've worked with Bob in a couple different ways,” Hinch said. “I had him when I was in the front office, he was the manager, then I end up being the manager right after him. He and I have known each other a long time. I have great respect for him. I did call him last summer when I was suspended to apologize to him in understanding how wrong we were and how it impacted the A's and him and the entire game of baseball. That business was handled last summer.”
It was A's right-hander Mike Fiers who made public the cheating involving his former club.
This marks the third time zone in seven days for the Tigers. Hinch realizes the importance of rest, recovery and taking good care. He plans to give players days off when there aren't as many off days built into the schedule.
“You do have to remind yourself what room you're in in the hotel and what city you're in, what time zone you're in,” Hinch said.
A's second baseman Tony Kemp is among those players donating his salary from Thursday night's game on Jackie Robinson Day.
“Especially being able to wear 42 and to step between the lines, there's no way to not get emotional or to get some chills," Kemp said. “I think that's very normal because of all the stuff that Jackie endured.”
Hinch met Wednesday with the team about Jackie Robinson Day.
“There's awareness. No. 42 is what brings that on April 15 every year,” Hinch said.
Tigers: RF Nomar Mazara went on the 10-day injured list after exiting during an at-bat in the fourth inning of Wednesday's win at Houston with a side injury. ... JaCoby Jones earned a start in CF, with Hinch planning to play Víctor Reyes there Friday. Akil Baddoo played RF in Mazara's place.
Athletics: OF Chad Pinder, sidelined by a sprained left knee and another player donating his Thursday salary, will soon begin doing some extensive baseball activity — swinging a bat in the next couple of days and starting a running progression. ... LHP A.J. Puk threw out to 90 feet as he works back from a strained biceps muscle in his pitching arm.
José Ureña (0-2, 8.22 ERA) seeks his first win opposite Oakland RHP Frankie Montas (1-1, 8.31).
More AP MLB coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports