Tony Gwynn: Tigers & A’s: Early season surprises
While Kenny Rogers has never won 20 games in a season, he will have the chance to reach that number less than three weeks into the 2006 season.
Rogers takes the mound for Detroit (7-7) in search of his 20th career win over Oakland (7-7) when the Tigers and Athletics continue their three-game set on Wednesday at McAfee Coliseum.
Rogers has recorded 192 wins since entering the league in 1989 with Texas, but he has earned 19 career wins over both Oakland and Kansas City, his most against any team.
The left-hander also led Oakland with 16 wins in 1998.
In his last outing on Friday, Rogers had a successful home debut after allowing a run and seven hits over eight innings in the Tigers’ 5-1 win over the Indians at Comerica Park.
Three of his four walks issued this season came in that contest, and he fanned five for the third time in as many starts this year.
“He came through big time,” new Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “A good ballgame is dictated by pitching, and Kenny dictated the game.”
Rogers will be opposed by right-hander Joe Blanton, making his home debut.
Blanton’s first start this year was a gem. He threw 99 pitches—69 for strikes—and gave up two hits with a walk and six strikeouts in Oakland’s 5-0 win over Seattle on April 7.
But he was unable to build on that impressive outing. On Thursday, Blanton lasted six innings but was roughed up for seven runs and 11 hits in an 8-2 loss to Minnesota.
“Just one of those days,” he said. “Three inches here or there, and the balls are caught. But you’ve got to give them credit. I thought they hit some good pitches.”
Blanton has never faced the Tigers.
Since starting the season with five straight wins, the Tigers have stumbled, dropping seven of nine including a 4-3 defeat to the A’s in the series opener on Tuesday.
“Everything hasn’t been hunkey-dorey,” said Leyland, who replaced the fired Alan Trammell after last season. “It hasn’t been good enough, or I wouldn’t be here. … It wasn’t Alan Trammell’s fault.”
Chris Shelton went 1-for-3 and failed to hit a home run, but still leads the AL with nine. He had 18 in 107 games in 2005.
With nine homers in 13 games, Shelton is on the verge of becoming the fastest to 10 homers in AL history. Cleveland’s Ken Keltner hit 10 homers in 16 games to start the 1948 season.
“I’m being a lot more consistent, trying to make every swing look the same,” Swisher said. “I’m doing what the situation calls for and trying not to do too much.”
Five of his homers have come during a nine-game hitting streak in which he is batting .389 (14-for-36).