ATHLETICS (19-25) AT TIGERS (18-23)
1:10 p.m. ET; FSDT, MLBN, MLB.TV
The Oakland Athletics have not fared well on the road this season. They’re hoping for a turnaround over the next four days when they meet another struggling team, the Detroit Tigers.
The A’s had Wednesday off as they flew to the Midwest to get ready for the four-game series.
Oakland carries a three-game losing streak into Thursday’s matinee. A pair of those losses came by a single run and the other was a two-run decision. And the one-run losses both came at Seattle as the A’s dropped to 5-15 on the road this season.
“I think there is definitely some urgency,” third baseman Matt Chapman told MLB.com about his team’s mentality. “It’s not like we need to win every game, but we need to be able to find some ways to put up some more runs and just be a little more competitive.”
Right-hander Chris Bassitt will start the series opener. Bassitt (1-1, 2.55 ERA) has pitched well in all four of his starts but has only one win to show for it.
In his most recent start last Thursday, Bassitt allowed three runs on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings against Cincinnati while striking out nine. But the A’s were shut out.
Nearly all the runs scored against him have come via the long ball. He’s given up five home runs among seven earned runs.
“I feel like I’ve made four or five mistakes the last couple of outings, and they’ve all been home runs,” Bassitt told MLB.com. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time, you just tip your cap. They’ve been to good hitters.”
Bassitt doesn’t have a blazing fastball — he averages around 93 mph — but he keeps hitters off-balance with his sinkers, cutters and curveballs. He underwent Tommy John surgery three years ago, which forced him to make adjustments to his approach.
“I learned to pitch. When you’re throwing 89-91 (mph), you have to learn to pitch without a really good fastball,” Bassitt said. “The fastball came back and I was able to learn from that, and it made life easier.”
Bassitt is 2-2 with a 4.56 ERA in four career starts against Detroit.
The Tigers were swept by the team with the best record in baseball, the Houston Astros, over the past three days. Their pitching staff has been battered by injuries and now their No. 3 hitter is dealing with some discomfort.
First baseman Miguel Cabrera sat out Wednesday with a sore knee. He exited early in an 11-4 loss on Tuesday and manager Ron Gardenhire wasn’t going to take any chances.
“It just swelled up,” he told the Detroit News. “It’s not a big deal. He’s had it before. We weren’t going to run him back out there, for sure. We’ve got to protect this guy. I’ve been saying it all year.”
Cabrera is batting .282 but has hit just one homer.
Right-hander Spencer Turnbull (2-2, 2.42) will get the start for Detroit. That’s good news for the Tigers, who have won the last four games in which Turnbull has taken the mound.
Turnbull got a no-decision in his last outing on Saturday, when he allowed two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings to Minnesota but also walked four.
Oakland will be facing Turnbull for the first time.
–Field Level Media