Athletics-Tigers Preview

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.