The effect, though, was much the same.
After the Tigers spent the day expecting to face Oakland's Jharel Cotton, he was scratched a few minutes before Monday night's game with a strained groin. His replacement, Raul Alcantara, held Detroit scoreless for 3 2/3 innings to set up an 8-3 victory.
"I just felt a pull in my groin, and when I tried to keep warming up, it kept grabbing at me," Cotton said. "It was just a freak accident when I was ready to pitch."
Alcantra came into the game with a 12.27 ERA in five appearances this season, all in relief. He made five starts as a rookie last year.
"To give us what he did, upwards of 60 pitches, really saved us," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "He was pressed into duty pretty quick, didn't have much time to think about it and responded really well."
The last-minute switch appeared to throw off Detroit's timing.
"It's always a little funky when a starter gets pulled at the last minute, because you've been preparing for him all day," Ian Kinsler said. "You still have to hit the new guy, though."
Oakland also got big offensive nights from two of their best hitters. Matt Olson homered and Jed Lowrie drove in three runs.
Olson became the first A's player to homer in four straight games since Coco Crisp in 2013, and now has 14 home runs in his last 20 games. He has 22 homers since coming up from the minors in early June.
"It's been pretty spectacular, for the amount of time he's been here and what he's done," Melvin said. "He's taken off and run with it. You see the offensive numbers, but defensively he's spectacular at first, too.
"That's the kind of player you build around."
Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell left the game in the eighth inning after getting hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Ryon Healy. The liner was measured at 102.6 mph by StatCast and hit Ferrell in the right side of the head.
He never went down, but jogged immediately toward the Detroit dugout and was escorted to the clubhouse. He was taken to a hospital for precautionary tests, but was alert and responsive.
"A pitcher taking a line drive to the head is the scariest thing in baseball," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It was a relief to see him stay on his feet, and an even bigger relief when he knew exactly what had happened."
Nicholas Castellanos had three hits for the Tigers, extending his career-best hitting streak to 15 games.
Liam Hendriks (4-2), the third of six Oakland pitchers, got the win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Buck Farmer (4-4) allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits in 2 2/3 innings.
The Athletics took a 1-0 lead in the first on Lowrie's career-best 46th double of the season, scoring Marcus Semien. Lowrie is now one double short of matching Jason Giambi's 2001 record for an Oakland player. Al Simmons holds the overall franchise record with 53 in 1926, when the franchise was still in Philadelphia.
Lowrie's sacrifice fly made it 2-0 in the third. Olson added a two-run homer later in the inning.
An error by third baseman Jeimer Candelario kept the inning alive, and Chad Pinder's RBI double ended Farmer's day. JaCoby Jones ended the inning with a running catch of Matt Champan's line drive into the right-center field gap.
Lowrie got his third RBI when Artie Lewicki walked him with the bases loaded in the fourth.
Jones and Kinsler hit RBI doubles in the fifth, and Kinsler homered in the seventh.
"We were able to do a little to get back into the game, but they just scored too many runs," Ausmus said.
Athletics: Cotton said he's never had a groin problem before, so he's not sure how long the recovery might take.
Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera returned to the lineup after leaving Saturday's game with chronic lower-back tightness and taking Sunday off. ... RHP Jordan Zimmermann (neck strain) threw a bullpen session on Monday and could start Thursday against the Kansas City Royals.
TRIPLE-A MANAGER FIRED
The Tigers announced Monday that Mike Rojas, manager of their Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, will not return for the 2018 season. They did not announce a replacement.
The teams play the second of a three-game series Tuesday night with Oakland's Daniel Gossett (4-9, 5.02) facing Detroit's Chad Bell (0-3, 6.42). Both pitchers will be facing their opponents for the first time.