DETROIT — Tired after a long trip, the Oakland Athletics felt a little sluggish.
But once they hit Comerica Park, they again turned sluggerish.
Jurickson Profar launched his first career grand slam and the A’s routed Detroit 17-3 Thursday for their 13th straight victory over the Tigers.
The A’s had lost three straight and were 1-10 in their last 11 road games before romping. They arrived in Detroit after a 4-3 loss at Seattle on Tuesday night.
“I think we were really feeling wiped out this morning,” A’s catcher Josh Phegley said. “It really didn’t feel like we had an off day with a night game, a long flight and then a day game, but it almost gave us a chip on our shoulder out there.”
Phegley had four hits and drove in four runs. He had one of Oakland’s five home runs as the A’s won their eighth in a row at Comerica Park.
Phegley is hitting .295 with an .835 OPS this year.
“If you are looking for All-Star catchers this season, I don’t know anyone more worthy than Josh,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s hitting close to .300 and he’s giving us homers and RBIs. You don’t see that from the nine spot very often.”
Detroit has been outscored 41-9 while losing the first four games of a 10-game homestand.
“I’ve lost games like that before I’m sure I’ll lose them again,” Tigers second baseman Josh Harrison said. “This is a tough stretch, but you can’t get embarrassed. You just forget about it and try to win the next one.”
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was forced to use outfielder Brandon Dixon to pitch the ninth inning — the infielder/outfielder, who had two scoreless appearances on the mound for Cincinnati last year, gave up a two-run homer to Mark Canha.
“I hate doing that — I absolutely hate it,” Gardenhire said. “I’ve been managing for a long time and that’s only the second time I’ve ever done it. There was just no one left in our bullpen and Brandon told me he did a few times last year with Cincinnati, so I put him out there.”
Matt Olson and Marcus Semien also homered for Oakland.
Ohio native Chris Bassitt (2-1) pitched eight shutout innings in front of a large group of friends and family.
“I not only saw all of his fans, I heard them,” Melvin said. “They were the ones booing me when I took him out.”
Three of Bassitt’s six career wins have come against the Tigers, all at Comerica Park.
“This is basically my home away from home,” said Bassitt, who grew up about 90 minutes away. “I was blessed to live so close to a great pitcher’s park.”
Spencer Turnbull (2-3) took the loss for Detroit, allowing six runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits and two walks. He was the fourth straight Tigers starter to fail to reach the fifth inning.
Dawel Lugo hit a three-run homer with two outs in the Tigers ninth off Aaron Brooks.
The Tigers had the game’s first scoring chance when Ronny Rodriguez tripled with one out in the second inning, but he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Harrison’s grounder to third.
The A’s then scored six times in the third. The Tigers missed a pair of double-play opportunities and Oakland got a run when Turnbull struck out Khris Davis on a wild pitch. Profar made it 6-0 with his slam.
“Our starting pitching has to be better, because we’re killing the bullpen, but this game starts with catching the ball,” Gardenhire said. “Spencer didn’t have his best stuff, but when you ask him to get five or six outs in an inning, you make it that much worse.”
Phegley hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Olson added a solo homer later in the inning. Phegley’s fourth hit gave the A’s a 10-run lead in the seventh, and Semien followed with a three-run drive.
“It’s a whole lot easier to pitch with that kind of lead,” Bassitt said. “You just have to keep from beating yourself.”
Athletics: RHP Jharel Cotton (elbow) will start a rehab assignment on Friday with Class A Stockton. Cotton has been out since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2018. ... LF Nick Martini is hitting .357 in five rehab games with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (elbow) suffered a muscle strain while working out, but Gardenhire doesn’t expect it to change his return date. Zimmermann is expected to be out for at least another month. . Detroit designated RHP Reed Garrett for assignment and recalled RHP Sandy Baez from Triple-A Toledo. As a Rule 5 pick, Garrett will be offered back to the Texas Rangers if he clears waivers.
NO GREENE IN A BLOWOUT
Gardenhire did have another option for the ninth inning — closer Shane Greene. Because of Detroit’s struggles, Greene hasn’t pitched since Sunday and has only worked twice in the last 11 days.
“We need to get him an inning and he really wants to be out there, but not on a day like that,” Gardenhire said. “Nothing good was going to come out of that inning. Hopefully, we can get him some work with a lead tomorrow.”
The teams play the second of four games on Friday night, with Oakland’s Frankie Montas (4-2, 2.78 ERA) facing Detroit’s Daniel Norris (2-1, 3.63).