Sanchez, Kazmir square off in series-opener Monday night
The Detroit Tigers own the second-best record in the AL against left-handed starters even though Scott Kazmir cruised past them about a month ago.
That victory started a major roll for Kazmir that ended with a thud in his latest outing, and he’ll look to regroup Monday night in the opener of the Oakland Athletics’ three-game road series against the Tigers.
The Tigers are 15-8 when opponents start a left-hander, second only to the Athletics’ 16-8 mark.
Kazmir (9-3, 2.66 ERA) posted the second complete game of his career May 28, striking out eight and allowing six hits in a 3-1 victory over Detroit (44-34) that started a four-game win streak.
He had posted a 1.27 ERA in a five-start span beginning with that outing against the Tigers, but surrendered a season-high seven runs over three innings in a 10-1 loss to the New York Mets last Tuesday.
"I’m not worried. I don’t think we’re worried at all," catcher Stephen Vogt told MLB’s official website after that game. "He’s such a good pitcher. He’s been strong all year for us. Just one bad night."
Kazmir, limiting opponents to a .217 average, has had trouble against Victor Martinez (11 for 23) and Rajai Davis (9 for 18).
He will again match up with Anibal Sanchez (5-2, 2.64), who was in position to win last month’s meeting. Sanchez took a shutout into the bottom of the ninth inning before closer Joe Nathan allowed Josh Donaldson’s three-run homer.
The right-hander has gone 0-2 with an 8.40 ERA in three career home starts against Oakland, including a 6-3 loss in Game 3 of last year’s AL division series in which he allowed six runs over 4 1-3 innings.
Sanchez has gone 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA in eight starts since returning from the disabled list May 18. He won his third straight outing by yielding four runs over 5 1-3 innings of an 8-6 victory at Texas on Wednesday.
He will be facing an Oakland lineup missing one regular and possibly two. Josh Reddick was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a strained right knee while catcher Derek Norris has been out the last two games with back problems.
The A’s (51-30) recalled Nate Freiman on Sunday, and he delivered a three-run homer in their fourth straight win, 4-3 at Miami.
"Nate had a full year in the big leagues last year and knows what it is all about," Melvin said. "He is not intimidated by it. He gets called up, and on Day 1 has the biggest hit of the game. He knows how to play."
The Tigers are back home after a 7-2 trip.
Ian Kinsler is expected back in the lineup after he did not start Sunday with manager Brad Ausmus giving him a rest. Kinsler is 4 for 33 off Kazmir.
Detroit lost two of three in Houston over the weekend. Miguel Cabrera was 0 for 13 in the series and Martinez 1 for 12.
"Those are the guys we lean on," Ausmus said. "They are going to have struggles. It’s going to happen. They scuffled a little bit swinging the bat."
These clubs split four meetings in Oakland last month.