The Oakland Athletics completed a split of their two-game series with the Detroit Tigers on a night that saw Hideki Matsui finally hit his 500th career home run between Japan and the United States. Matsui hit his 499th home run June 16 against the Kansas City Royals, and one has to wonder if he was pressing a bit to get that big number 500. The home run was part of a strong overall day as he was 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a run scored in the 7-5 A’s victory. You can view video of the 500th home at the A’s home page.
The A’s benefited from a rare offensive explosion as they found themselves taking an early lead and then having to come back from a deficit. Oakland took an early 2-0 lead on an Eric Sogard groundout and a Matsui RBI infield single. The Tigers then evened the score at two with a groundout and single of their own.
The A’s then captured the lead in the sixth inning on Matsui’s big home run, which came with nobody out and nobody on and on a 1-0 count. The bottom of the sixth saw the A’s hand the lead right back on singles by Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera, followed by a Victor Martinez double and Don Kelly sacrifice fly.
The rally gave the Tigers a 5-3 lead heading into the seventh, at which point their bullpen melted down. David Purcey walked Landon Powell, Eric Sogard and Coco Crisp to start the inning at which point he was pulled for Joaquin Benoit. The A’s proceeded to grab a Pennington single, a Willingham sacrifice fly, and then Matsui and Jackson singles to take a 7-5 lead.
The A’s bullpen slammed the door shot from there on out with three shutout innings from Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow, Grant Balfour and Andrew Bailey. Joey Devine claimed the victory and Andrew Bailey the save as the A’s improve to 43-55. They’ll head off to New York City to face the Yankees for three games this weekend.