Bob Melvin stood outside the dugout, hands outstretched, wondering why the tarp was being pulled at Detroit’s Comerica Park, with no rain falling, and reliever Liam Hendriks on the mound and Josh Harrison at the plate.
There had been tornado warnings in the outlying areas of Detroit, and the dark skies threatened rain, but no real rain had come; it was only misting as the tarps were rolled out. Mark Canha raised his arms in the dugout. Marcus Semien stood with his hands on his hips.
The Oakland Athletics had scored two runs to take a 5-3 lead in the top of the seventh, and by rule, the runs in the top of the frame would not count if the game was called, despite it being an official game, because the Detroit Tigers — on the verge of being swept — did not get their at-bat. Oakland’s 16th straight win over Detroit had to be put on hold, and will officially resume on Sept. 6 in Oakland, before the scheduled night game between the two teams, and likely with a different cast of characters after the trade deadline.
Starter Mike Fiers, who had a 1.89 ERA in the month of May — including his second career no-hitter — had a rough, 33-pitch first, in which he allowed a triple, two walks, a sacrifice fly and saw catcher Josh Phegley whiff on a fastball up, giving the Tigers their first lead of the series, 2-0.
The A’s, though, came back in support, when Marcus Semien put an inside-out swing on an 0-2, 95-mph fastball in the top of the third for an RBI triple, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Chad Pinder.
A walk to Matt Chapman and a single by Khris Davis — still swinging at about half speed thanks to a sore hip — set up Stephen Piscotty, who had his father in the house, along with members of his extended family who live in Detroit. Piscotty bounced a first-pitch single to left, giving the A’s a 3-2 lead against purported opener Gregory Soto, who wound up going four innings and throwing 70 pitches. Piscotty extended his big-league-best reached-base streak to 18 games.
Fiers, meanwhile, threw just six pitches in the second, eight in the third and nine in the fourth, with his only mistake being a first-pitch no-doubt home run to left off the bat of Nicholas Castellanos in the bottom of the third to tie things up.
The A’s had first and third with no outs in the fifth but could not score, and had men on first and second with two outs in the sixth and failed to bring a run home. But, with men on first and second and two outs in the top of the seventh, Piscotty came up big with a double to right center, giving Oakland the 5-3 lead, with his family making noise in the stands.
After an intentional walk to Matt Olson, the Tigers brought in Victor Alcántara with two men on, and he got him to line out to a sprinting Castelllanos going towards the wall in right, saving two runs and ending the inning.
The tarps came on the field at 12:29 Pacific per the advice of the grounds crew, who spoke with the umpiring crew before the start of the seventh. The hard rains did not come until the tarps were well on the field eight minutes later — perhaps enough time for the A’s to have gotten three outs.