ATHLETICS (22-25) AT TIGERS (18-26)
1:10 p.m. ET; FS-D, NBCSCA, MLB.TV
The Detroit Tigers have transformed from a decent team to a complete mess in the span of a week.
Detroit lost its sixth consecutive game on its homestand — 4-1 on Saturday — and fell to the Oakland Athletics for the 15th straight time overall.
In the six losses, the opposition has wrecked the Tigers, outscoring them 52-12.
The club continues its 10-game homestand at Comerica Park on Sunday, concluding the four-game series with the A’s against right-hander Mike Fiers (3-3, 5.12 ERA).
Once the A’s leave Michigan, the Tigers will have an off day Monday then host the MLB-worst Miami Marlins for three games beginning Tuesday.
Nothing appears to be going well for Detroit, who hasn’t pitched at all, hit much or played smart baseball this week.
With the rotation currently in shambles and short-staffed, Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire will go to Gregory Soto (0-2, 13.50) on Sunday. A strong outing by the left-hander would be just what the Tigers need heading into an off day. It will be the rookie’s first time facing Oakland.
A myriad of injuries has beset the Tigers’ rotation, reducing it to essentially a four-man starting staff.
Ace Michael Fulmer had Tommy John surgery in the spring and top lefty Matt Moore was lost for the season due to knee surgery after just two starts.
The diagnoses on Tyson Ross and Jordan Zimmermann are less critical but still hamper the staff.
Ross’ elbow issue means he won’t throw for another 7-10 days, and no timeline exists for his immediate return. Zimmermann (elbow UCL sprain/muscle strain) is likely a month away from returning.
The pressure now falls on ace Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris, Spencer Turnbull and Soto to eat up the early innings of games, and Soto has been disappointing in his two starts.
Gardenhire made a plea to the fans after an embarrassing 17-3 loss to Oakland on Thursday in the series opener, saying the home losing streak wasn’t typical of the play this season.
“Let’s not put it down to the last few games here where our pitching has been beat up and everything. Let’s think about the body up to this point. We’ve actually really competed and played pretty well,” Gardenhire said.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin will look for Fiers to follow up the strong performances by Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas and Daniel Mengden, who were exceptional in earning victories.
Bassitt threw eight innings of shutout ball in Thursday’s two-touchdown rout, Montas nearly tossed his first career complete game on Friday and Mengden notched his first win this season with seven stout innings on Saturday.
If the A’s want to make it 16 straight over Detroit, Fiers will have to be better than the 6.85 ERA he has sported on the road. He is 1-0 against the Tigers in five games (five starts) with a 2.93 ERA.
Melvin said a strong showing from Fiers is possible because good pitching appears to spawn more good pitching.
“The starters seem to be following each other with really good outings,” Melvin told reporters after Mengden’s showing Saturday. “It seems to be contagious with starters. We didn’t blow anyone out (today), but it was a pretty clean game.”
–Field Level Media