The A’s have dropped seven of eight, leaving them one game behind the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees in the AL wild-card race. Oakland has also fallen 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
Saarloos is 3-0 in his last four starts with a 4.37 ERA, recording a complete game win over Detroit during that stretch. On July 31, Saarloos allowed two runs and seven hits in a 5-2 win over the Tigers in his first career appearance against Detroit.
In Saturday’s 5-2 win over Minnesota, Saarloos retired 14 of the first 16 batters he faced, and allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.
“I feel just as strong now, if not stronger, than I did at the beginning of the season,” Saarloos said. “I’ve been getting a week off, six days off, and that’s helped.”
The Tigers matched their longest winning streak of the season with their fifth straight victory and improved to 6-1 on a nine-game homestand.
Pena, who also doubled, is 7-for-13 (.539) with five homers and 10 RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Aug. 24.
The A’s swept a three-game series from Detroit from July 29-31, when they were the hottest team in baseball, but the roles seemed to reverse when the teams met Tuesday.
“I thought we pitched well enough to beat them but just didn’t hit,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “The major concern is that if you have one, two or three guys struggling, that would be fine; but we’ve got about seven or eight struggling right now. That’s a major concern.”
Pena started as the designated hitter Tuesday in place of Dmitri Young, who left Sunday’s win over Toronto after fouling a ball off his left toe.
“Somehow, some way we’ll have to get him into the lineup tomorrow,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said of Young.