With two of baseball’s best young right-handers squaring off again, this game is not expected to be anything like the slugfest seen in the series opener as the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers (63-52) meet Saturday afternoon.
Friday’s opener of this three-game set was anything but a pitchers’ duel, with Detroit starter Jordan Tata lasting only two innings and Oakland’s Joe Blanton pitching four. The Athletics (56-60) blew a seven-run lead before matching a season high with eight runs in the sixth inning en route to a 16-10 victory.
“This was a crazy game,” said Oakland’s Jack Cust, who had a grand slam and seven RBIs. “Detroit’s offense is fun to watch, and they scored a lot of runs tonight. Luckily, so did we.”
The clubs totaled just 22 runs in a three-game set from July 30-Aug. 1, with Oakland’s two wins including Haren (13-3, 2.46 ERA) beating Verlander (11-4, 3.60) in the middle game. That matchup came exactly three weeks after they were All-Star teammates as each allowed a run and two hits—Haren started and went two innings while Verlander pitched an inning of relief.
When the hurlers met on July 31, Haren gave up three runs in six innings as Oakland won 7-3. Verlander yielded four runs and seven hits with four walks in 5 1-3 innings.
That contest is indicative of how these pitchers have fared since the All-Star break. While Haren has gone 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA, Verlander is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA.
The 26-year-old Haren, though, needed 113 pitches to get through six innings on Sunday, giving up two runs and seven hits with three walks before leaving without a decision in Oakland’s 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Verlander also did not get a decision in his most recent outing, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay on Monday.
While the 24-year-old Verlander is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA in four career starts versus Oakland, Haren had been 0-2 with a 5.31 ERA against the Tigers before beating them last month.
Pitching woes continue to drag down the Tigers, who have lost 12 of 15 to fall 1 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central. They have given up at least six runs and 10 hits in 15 of their last 21 games, compiling a 6.74 ERA and a .318 opponent batting average.
“We can’t keep going like this,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “This team is battling, and I’m very proud of them, but this was a terrible night.”
The A’s had scored more than 10 runs only once in their previous 34 games. They are still second-to-last in the AL in runs scored with 515.
Detroit is second in the majors in that category with 652, and that offense may have gotten back on track Friday after being held to one run in each of its previous two games.
Magglio Ordonez added three hits and two RBIs to reclaim the AL lead with a .351 batting average, but he’s just 2-for-13 (.154) against Haren.
Rookie Travis Buck went 4-for-5 with three runs and three RBIs for Oakland, and is hitting .563 (9-for-16) against the Tigers. Teammate Donnie Murphy is 10-for-28 (.357) with three homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games overall.