DETROIT (AP) — Bob Melvin had no major concerns about sending left-hander Rich Hill to the mound against Detroit’s lineup of righty sluggers.
“He’s really unpredictable in what he’s throwing,” the Oakland manager said after Hill shut down the Tigers. “Sometimes even the pitches that he throws back to back are a little bit different in how they move.”
Hill allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings, and the Athletics beat the Tigers 5-1 on Tuesday night. Marcus Semien homered for the A’s, and Hill breezed through Detroit’s hitters with little trouble. He struck out eight and wasn’t really in any jams after he escaped the first inning with two on.
“It’s a great lineup,” Hill said. “We kept the ball down in the zone. We got ahead — I think that was a big thing, just getting ahead and staying ahead.”
Mike Pelfrey (0-4) allowed five runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings and remains winless since signing with Detroit this past offseason. He allowed three runs in the fourth inning and then gave up Semien’s two-run shot with two out in the seventh.
Justin Upton made a terrific catch in left field in the third, reaching above the wall on a drive by Oakland’s Chris Coghlan. The ball actually popped out of Upton’s glove, but he was able to gather it in before it hit the ground.
Oakland opened the scoring in the fourth on an RBI single by Jed Lowrie. Shortstop Jose Iglesias was unable to come up with Lowrie’s sharp grounder after ranging well to his right. Coco Crisp added a sacrifice fly, and Khris Davis made it 3-0 with an RBI single.
Pelfrey nearly made it through the seventh, but after retiring the first two batters, he allowed Yonder Alonso’s single and Semien’s fifth homer of the season. He allowed one more hit after that before being pulled.
Hill (3-2) allowed singles to Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez in the first, but he also struck out three in the inning. The Tigers didn’t score until Martinez’s RBI double with two out in the ninth. Billy Burns got a glove on his deep drive but couldn’t hold on in front of the wall in center.
That run came well after Pelfrey left the game, however. The Tigers still haven’t given him a single run of support this season in 21 1-3 innings.
“It doesn’t matter if we are scoring 20 runs when I pitch or zero,” Pelfrey said. “My job is to get outs and put zeroes on the board, and in four starts this year, I haven’t done that.”
The last American League pitcher to get zero runs of support through his first four starts of the season was Mike Morgan of Toronto back in 1983, according to STATS. The most recent NL examples came in 2012, when it happened to Johan Santana of the New York Mets and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis.
Josh Reddick had three hits for Oakland, his fourth straight multi-hit game. His average has gone from .218 to .292 in that stretch.
Miguel Cabrera struck out looking in the sixth when he looked unprepared to swing on the final pitch. He argued with plate umpire Mark Wegner, to no avail. Manager Brad Ausmus said the Tigers thought Cabrera had called time.
Athletics: RHP Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder) pitched two innings Monday for Triple-A Nashville on a rehab assignment.
Tigers: RHP Shane Greene (blister) is unlikely to make his next start, Ausmus said. ... Detroit reinstated LHP Daniel Norris (back) from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers also recalled RHP Buck Farmer from Toledo.
Athletics: Sonny Gray (3-1) takes the mound at Detroit on Wednesday night. Gray is 10-2 with a 2.21 ERA in 14 career starts in April.
Tigers: Justin Verlander (1-2) tries to build on a solid outing in his last start, when he struck out 10 in seven innings against Cleveland on Friday.