Swisher's pair of homers power A's

Swisher's pair of homers power A's

OAKLAND ­-- Detroit's Justin Verlander threw a high-90s fastball to Nick Swisher. Boom.

Verlander later throw a low-80s changeup to Swisher. Boom.

Those two Swisher home runs lifted the A's to a 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday in what was a comeback game for a couple of A's pitchers.

Esteban Loaiza, after struggling with velocity and control in his first two starts, got a better handle on both in his third.

And Huston Street, after blowing a save on Sunday for the first time in 21 opportunities, redeemed himself the first chance he got.

"More than what I did, I'm proud of what Huston Street did, coming back like that," said Swisher, who enjoyed a two-homer game for the second time in six days and the fourth time in his career.

On Easter, Street was unable to protect a three-run lead against the Rangers, giving up four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Monday was an off-day for the A's, so the closer was happy to get a shot at redemption as soon as he could.

"I wanted to get out there," Street said. "I wanted to prove not only to my teammates but to myself that I could get it done.

"[Tuesday was] a perfect situation, a one-run game. It's a test. It's nice to know I've got it back."

He proved he got it back by picking up his fourth save with a perfect ninth, highlighted by getting American League home run leader Chris Shelton (nine so far) to strike out looking for the second out.

"You know you've got to be careful, you know you've got to get ahead in the count," Street said. "I threw a couple of fastballs and got him [to a] 1-2 [count], got him on his heels a little bit."

"It's probably the best velocity he's had since he's been here," manager Ken Macha said of Street, who topped out with a couple of 96 mph fastballs.

There's no "probably" about Loaiza getting his velocity up. In his first two starts with the A's, the 34-year-old couldn¹t get more juice than low to mid 80s on his fastball.

Against the Tigers, he was usually in the high 80s, and cracked 90 a couple of times.

"It's a big relief," he said. "I felt good, I kept the ball low, and I went out and gave it all I got."

Early on, that didn¹t look to be enough, as Curtis Granderson opened the game with a triple high off the left-field scoreboard and scored when the next batter, Placido Polanco, stroked a solid single up the middle.

While many in the crowd of 16,857 may have been thinking, "Here he goes again," the thought never crossed Swisher's mind.

"Esteban has been around a long time, and he's starting to find his groove," Swisher said. "It was a great start. He kept us close, and if you can keep it close, we're the comeback kids. Give us a chance, and we're going to score some runs late."

First, the A's scored some runs early, as Swisher launched a Verlander fastball off the top of the scoreboard in right for a two-run blast, his fifth homer this year.

Verlander (1-2) said with Swisher, the plan was "not to throw him a get-me-over fastball.

"I tried to guide it in there, and I guided it down the middle of the plate."


"Esteban [Loaiza] has been around a long time, and he's starting to find his groove. It was a great start. He kept us close, and if you can keep it close, we're the comeback kids. Give us a chance, and we're going to score some runs late."
-- Nick Swisher

Loaiza, meanwhile, was guiding his cutter in and out, low on the corners.

"That leadoff triple, he didn¹t hit it that well, it just kept carrying," Loaiza said. "After that, I just tried to throw first-ball strikes.

"I came back and did something good in the second inning, and just kept going from there."

He kept going -- after being yanked before completing five innings in his first two starts -- by facing the minimum number of batters until the sixth.

By then, the A's were up, 3-1, thanks to Swisher's first homer and an unearned run because of a pair of Carlos Guillen errors in the fourth.

But in the sixth, the Tigers bit back on an RBI double by Ivan Rodriguez and a game-tying single by Magglio Ordonez.

Loaiza left the game before the seventh with the score tied, and with much more optimism than after his first two starts.

"Next time, my velocity will be a little better than today," he said. "I can feel it in my arms, my legs, my shoulder, and we'll see what happens this weekend against Anaheim."

Loaiza said he can get his heater up to the mid-90s, which is a crawl compared to the gas Verlander was bringing.

"I watched tape of him throwing 101 to [Jim] Thome and thought, 'Jiminy'," Swisher said. "You've really got to grind it out against a guy like that.

"You blink, and the ball is in the mitt."

Swisher struck out in his second appearance against Verlander, swinging wildly at a pair of off-speed pitches.

So the third time up, leading off the seventh, Swisher was looking for something similar.

"I was thinking, 'Here comes the change,' twice," he said. "The first time, he threw a fastball, and I swung anyway and fouled it off. The second time, I said, 'Here comes the change,' and you've just got to believe it was coming."

It was coming, and then it was going, more or less on a straight line over the wall in right-center for Swisher's sixth home run of the year.

That made a winner of Justin Duchscherer (1-0), who pitched a pair of scoreless innings to bridge the gap between Loaiza and Street.

Tony Kuttner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.