Tigers look to end string of poor starts, with Drew Smyly on mound vs. Oakland
The teams with the two best records in the American League face off in an afternoon (4:08 p.m.) affair on Memorial Day. The Tigers were 1-6 in the last calendar week, and just 4-6 in their last 10.
"It was honestly not a good series for us. Our starters had a little bit of a rough series, with the exception of Sanchie (Anibal Sanchez)," said manager Brad Ausmus. "You wouldn’t expect, with our starters, this would be the case, but every team goes through it. It was a rough patch. We’re not, obviously, happy about it, but it’s over, and we’re going to move on."
"I think everything’s magnified when you’re going through a rough stretch, but it’s a rough stretch. It happens in the game of baseball," said Sunday's starter, Justin Verlander, who got bounced around twice in the stretch. "We’ve got a fantastic ballclub here. I wasn’t able to do the job today, but the next starting pitcher is going to do the job next time. That’s the way you have to look at things.
"We’ve got a great rotation, we’ve got a great lineup, we’ve got a great ballclub.
"Even great ballclubs go through rough stretches in the course of 162 games. It happens. It’s not the end of the world.
I think everybody in this clubhouse is still confident. We’ve got enough veterans that we don’t let the highs get too high, and the lows get too low. You’re playing great? You go out there and play great again.
"You’re not playing great? OK, you go out there and turn it around.
"It’s just the way it is. It’s the game of baseball. And we’re going to do that."
Oakland was 5-5 in its last 10 games, as well.
Of note for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera is back in the lineup, after being removed from Sunday's game for precautionary reasons, after having his hamstring cramp up on him.
It's also the first day off of the season for Ian Kinsler, who had played every game so far.
"I like him so much, I haven't even given him a day off yet," manager Brad Ausmus said over the weekend, admitting he wasn't going to do that while Kinsler was playing his old team. Needless to say, the second-leading hitter in the American League (.330) has more than proven his value to his new team already.
With Kinsler out of the lineup, Rajai Davis leads off, followed by former leadoff hitter Austin Jackson, who hadn't hit this high in the lineup all season. Jackson had started 20 games in the No. 5 spot, and 23 in the No. 6 spot so far this year, seeming more comfortable lower in the order. The only other time Jackson hit in the No. 2 spot in his big-league career was April 17, 2011, when he hit second behind Will Rhymes against the Oakland A's. That day, Brennan Boesch hit third, Cabrera fourth, Ryan Raburn fifth, Don Kelly sixth, and Casper Wells ninth.
DETROIT TIGERS (28-18):
Rajai Davis, LF
Austin Jackson, CF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Bryan Holaday, C
Danny Worth, 2B
Andrew Romine, SS
Pitcher: Drew Smyly, LHP
OAKLAND A'S (30-20):
Coco Crisp, CF
Derek Norris, C
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Brandon Moss, DH
Alberto Callaspo, 2B
Kyle Blanks, 1B
Craig Gentry, LF
Pitcher: Tommy Milone, LHP (2-3, 3.99 ERA)