As the Oakland Athletics try to maintain their status as one of the AL wild-card leaders, the Detroit Tigers hope they've begun a winning stretch that will propel them to a second straight trip to the postseason.
The Tigers look to complete a series sweep by handing the A's a fourth consecutive loss Wednesday at Comerica Park.
Justin Verlander threw six scoreless innings and Miguel Cabrera homered for the second straight game Wednesday in Detroit's 6-2 win over Oakland. The Tigers (79-69) have outscored the A's 18-4 to win the first two games of the set after falling 5-4 at Central-leading Chicago on Monday.
Winners in six of eight, the Tigers are two games behind the White Sox, who fell 3-0 at Kansas City on Wednesday. They'll be trying to possibly trim that deficit more if they can sweep the A's (84-64) at home for the first time since 2009.
"We played a couple good games against one of the hottest teams in all of baseball,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's pretty good."
If Detroit is to remain a serious postseason contender, it needs Cabrera to stay hot.
A threat to become the first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, the veteran slugger is batting .432 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last nine games. Cabrera is 13 for 25 (.520) with three home runs and 14 RBIs in six games versus Oakland this season.
"(The Triple Crown is) something that is a dream,'' said Cabrera, who leads the AL with a .333 batting average, 130 RBIs and is second with 41 homers. "But right now, I got to focus on trying to help us make the playoffs."
Scheduled Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez (3-5, 4.19 ERA) is 2-2 with a 1.89 ERA in his last five starts. The right-hander took a no-hitter in the seventh inning Saturday when he eventually gave up two runs, three hits and struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 win at Cleveland.
"I was trying to be aggressive, not be afraid and all my pitches were working," Sanchez said.
This will be his first appearance against the A's, who hold one of the two wild-card spots with Baltimore. Oakland, however, has dropped three in a row after winning eight of nine.
Stephen Drew and rookie Yoenis Cespedes each had two hits Wednesday for the A's, who have not lost four in a row since a nine-game skid May 22-June 1. Cespedes has batted .417 (10 for 24) with six RBIs in his last eight games after he went 4 for 33 (.121) in his previous eight.
Scheduled Oakland starter Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.81) tries to win a third straight start after he set a franchise rookie record for wins when he allowed an earned run in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory over Baltimore on Friday.
"That's really impressive," manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics' official website of Milone's record. "Doesn't get lost on us."
In his only previous appearance versus Detroit, the left-hander allowed one earned run, five hits and struck out six in seven innings of an 11-4 home win May 11.