The only question was whether the ball would stay fair or hook
foul. So Donaldson, who remained at home plate, watched, like
everyone else at the O.co Coliseum on Wednesday night.
"I was just praying inside that it would stay fair," Donaldson said.
Donaldson's prayers were answered. The ball stayed fair for a
three-run homer, and the third baseman lifted the Oakland A's to a
3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
It was Donaldson's second career walk-off blast, both of them coming
Oakland trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on
and one out when Donaldson stepped in against Tigers closer Joe
Nathan left a first-pitch slider up, and Donaldson crushed it.
"I've had a few at-bats off Joe Nathan," Donaldson said after the
Athletics' fourth walk-off win of the season. "In that situation
right there being first and third, he's looking for a double play or
a strikeout. I was just trying to hit something in the air, for one,
and two, I was sitting on that slider and was able to put a good
swing on it."
Donaldson made a winner of left-hander Scott Kazmir, who pitched his
second career complete game but was two outs away from taking a
complete-game loss in an extraordinary pitching duel with Tigers
right-hander Anibal Sanchez.
Kazmir (6-2) allowed just six hits, including right fielder Torii
Hunter's solo home run in the fourth inning, while striking out
eight and walking none.
Sanchez pitched 8 1/3 innings but got a no-decision. He allowed
three hits, struck out a season-high nine and walked one.
"I tell you what, as a fan that was a fun game to watch right
there," Kazmir said. "It was. Throughout the whole game, Anibal and
I were just battling it out, out for out. We ended up getting a
couple baserunners on in the ninth, and Donaldson comes up. You just
kind of had that feeling when he came up, to be honest with you. He
saw that first pitch and didn't miss it. It was awesome."
The only hits Sanchez allowed were a single to Donaldson in the
fourth, a double to second baseman Eric Sogard in the sixth and a
one-out double to center fielder Coco Crisp in the ninth.
Crisp's slicing double to left ended Sanchez's bid for his seventh
career shutout. With Sanchez's pitch count at 111, Nathan took over,
and designated hitter John Jaso lined a single to left off third
baseman Nick Castellanos' glove, moving Crisp to third.
"It's all about getting outs," said Nathan, who allowed his second
career walk-off homer and his first home run of any kind at the
Coliseum. "The big out there was getting Jaso. You get him and it
changes everything. It changes how you approach Donaldson. It
changes how you pitch to him. It gives me a chance to play with him
a little bit.
[to top of second column]
"When we didn't get Jaso, it put us in a tough spot. Runners at
first and third and one out. Real good hitter at the plate."
Jaso gave way to pinch runner Craig Gentry, and Donaldson quickly
hit his 13th home run of the season.
Sanchez made his third start since returning from the disabled list
May 18 after missing three weeks with a lacerated middle finger on
his pitching hand.
"They are pretty aggressive, and I just tried to keep the ball
down," Sanchez said. "I'm OK with the decision they made to take me
out. My pitch count was up. ... It was my third outing after being
on the DL, so probably they were a little conservative about having
me throw more. Everything was fine up until the end. I had no
limitations. I was happy I went deep into the game."
Tigers center fielder Rajai Davis went 2-for-3 with a double and
made a diving catch in the second inning, but he left the game in
the bottom of the seventh inning with a left shoulder contusion.
Davis is listed as day-to-day.
NOTES: Tigers CF Austin Jackson was out of the starting lineup for
just the fourth time this season. Jackson hit .307 in March/April
with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 10 RBIs, but
through Tuesday, he was batting just .217 in May with six doubles,
one home run and seven RBIs. "He's just in a little bit of a funk,"
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said before the game. "April was a better
month offensively, but I don't think May is indicative of the type
of player he's going to be over the six-month season." Jackson
replaced injured OF Rajai Davis in the bottom of the seventh and
went 0-for-1. ... Oakland LHP Eric O'Flaherty (Tommy John surgery in
May 2013) will throw a simulated game Thursday at Triple-A
Sacramento. According to A's manager Bob Melvin, O'Flaherty likely
will be activated from the 60-day disabled list in late June or
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.