Athletics-Tigers Preview

The Associated PressAugust 25, 2013

Miguel Cabrera and the first-place Detroit Tigers have been swinging extremely hot bats of late.

They appear to have another favorable matchup against A.J. Griffin, who hasn't been able to keep the ball in the park.

The Tigers go for a fourth consecutive victory in Monday night's series opener against the slumping Oakland Athletics, who visit Comerica Park for the first time since last year's ALDS.

Detroit (77-53) enters this four-game set having won six of eight, hitting .341 with 11 homers in that span. Cabrera and Andy Dirks both hit two-run shots as the Tigers swept the New York Mets with Sunday's 11-3 road win.

Cabrera - whose 42 homers are four behind Baltimore's Chris Davis as he chases a second straight Triple Crown - leads the majors with 128 RBIs and a .360 batting average after going 3 for 4 on Sunday. Ramon Santiago also had three hits, while Victor Martinez, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and Omar Infante each added two.

"It's a lot of fun to watch," winning pitcher Rick Porcello said of Cabrera, who has 10 homers and 28 RBIs in his last 19 games. "You've got to remind yourself not to take what he's done for granted, because he's just that special of a player. ... He's the best hitter on the planet, hands down."

Cabrera may be looking forward to facing Griffin (10-9, 3.84 ERA), who has given up a major league-worst 30 home runs. The right-hander offered up two in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Seattle, yielding four runs, five hits and four walks in six innings.

"Trying to be more careful, not give into guys as much," Griffin, who has issued 15 free passes in his last three starts spanning 16 2-3 innings, told MLB's official website. "That's where the walks are coming from."

Griffin is 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA in two career starts versus Detroit, including playoffs. Fielder has taken him deep twice in five at-bats, and Cabrera is 3 for 5 with a homer and a double.

Griffin will also need to be careful against Jackson, who has gone 14 for 32 (.438) with two homers, seven RBIs and nine runs during a seven-game hitting streak.

The Tigers, who eliminated the A's in five games last postseason, took two of three in Oakland from April 12-14 in the only meeting since.

Clinging to the second AL wild-card spot, the A's (72-57) have dropped 14 of 23 while hitting .200 with runners in scoring position. Oakland went 1 for 7 in such situations in Sunday's 10-3 loss at Baltimore, its fourth defeat in five games.

"They're a good team, and we're a good team as well, and we just didn't play like we're capable of," losing pitcher Sonny Gray said.

Oakland could have a hard time bouncing back against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (11-7, 2.45), who has compiled a 1.51 ERA during a season-high four-game winning streak. The right-hander allowed one run and struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings but didn't factor in the decision of Wednesday's 7-1 victory over Minnesota.

Sanchez has been especially good at home, where he has posted an AL-best .198 opponent batting average and the league's second-lowest ERA (1.92).

Sanchez lost his first two matchups against the A's, including playoffs, before allowing one run and three hits in seven innings in a 10-1 road victory April 14. Josh Reddick is 0 for 9 versus Sanchez, and Chris Young, Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss are a combined 3 for 32.

Reddick exited Sunday's loss after aggravating his troublesome right wrist, leaving his status for Monday uncertain. The right fielder is mired in a 3-for-23 slump.