A rookie gave Detroit’s rotation its first win in nearly two weeks on Monday. Now, the Tigers are hoping their staff ace can turn in a similar outing.
Jordan Tata was called up to replace the injured Kenny Rogers and made his first major league start in the series opener, giving up two runs in seven innings for a 5-2 win. The victory was the first by a Tigers starter since Andrew Miller beat Minnesota on July 18.
Since then, Detroit’s rotation had allowed 62 runs in 65 1-3 innings over 12 games coming into this series.
Detroit also snapped a four-game losing streak that matched its longest of the season. Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco both had three hits and an RBI for the Tigers (61-44), who increased their AL Central lead to one game over Cleveland, which was idle on Monday.
Polanco is 36-for-72 (.500) in 18 career games against the A’s—his best average against any team—while Granderson is 18-for-51 (.353) in 13 games against them.
“(Polanco) is a good hitter,” said Oakland starter Joe Blanton, who was charged with the loss. “He just kind of stands up there and plays pepper. He’s a guy you really can’t strike out. He’s going to put the ball in play. He’s the kind of guy who seems to place it out there.”
The Tigers improved to a major-league best 35-23 on the road.
Verlander (11-3, 3.43 ERA) has not won since July 15 in Seattle, failing to receive decisions in his last two starts. He gave up three runs in seven innings of Detroit’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Detroit lost for just the second time in Verlander’s last nine starts.
“It is baseball,” Verlander told the Tigers’ official team Web site. “Things happen. Sometimes you throw decent and don’t get a win. That really doesn’t matter to me. I’d rather have our team win. Unfortunately that didn’t happen today.”
Verlander is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three career regular-season starts against the A’s, each of which came last season. He also gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-5 win over Detroit in Game 2 of the ALCS.
However, Verlander went 0-1 in two starts at McAfee Coliseum. The only other AL park in which he is winless is Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field.
Verlander will be trying to send Oakland to its fifth straight loss. Mark Kotsay went 2-for-2 with an RBI for the A’s, who are 8-18 this month and guaranteed of their first losing record in July since going 13-14 in 2000.
Oakland (49-57) met Detroit for the first time since being swept in last season’s AL championship series.
The A’s will also have their ace on the mound on Tuesday. Dan Haren (12-3, 2.42) owns the lowest ERA in the AL and has lasted at least six innings in all but two of his 22 starts.
Haren gave up two runs in seven innings of Thursday’s 6-2 win in Seattle.
“My real goal is to give us a good chance to win every time out,” he told Oakland’s site. “I’ve done that for the most part this year. And the times I haven’t, it seems like the offense has picked me up.”
Haren has struggled against the Tigers, going 0-2 with a 5.31 ERA in three career regular-season starts against them. He gave up three runs in five innings without getting a decision in Oakland’s 6-3 loss in Game 4 loss of last year’s ALCS.
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