Tigers-Athletics Preview

A .500 record and alternating wins with losses for nearly two

weeks have the Detroit Tigers looking for a breakout series.

The Oakland Athletics were relieved to avoid a break of a

different kind.

The underachieving Tigers face the A’s on Thursday night in the

opener of a four-game set at O.co Coliseum.

Reigning AL Central champion Detroit (15-15) has split its last

10 games, totaling 30 runs in the five victories compared to nine

in the defeats.

The Tigers arrive in Oakland after dropping two of three at

Seattle, losing the finale 2-1 on Tuesday in a game where they

totaled five hits.

“It’s pretty much a broken record now, we’re just not scoring

any runs and that was the case (Thursday),” manager Jim Leyland

said. “I don’t think we were bad at swinging the bat at pitches, we

just didn’t center the ball very good.”

Prince Fielder, 0 for 3 in the finale versus the Mariners, is

batting .370 with four homers in Detroit’s victories this season,

compared with a .250 average and one home run in the losses.

Fielder may get his first look at Oakland rookie outfielder

Yoenis Cespedes, who avoided a scare Wednesday when X-rays revealed

he only has a strain on the top of his left hand and not a broken

bone.

He’s already missed two games with the injury, which occurred

during batting practice Tuesday. The rookie leader with five homers

and 21 RBIs, Cespedes is expected to take batting practice Thursday

to determine his availability.

“You don’t want to lose a bat like that in the lineup,” third

baseman Brandon Inge told the Athletics’ official website.

Without Cespedes, the A’s (16-15) split a two-game set with

Toronto, falling 5-2 on Wednesday to lose for just the second time

in seven contests overall.

Inge will face the Tigers for the first time since they waived

him April 29. He played six positions over 11-plus seasons with

Detroit, helping the club to a World Series appearance in 2006 and

a trip to the AL championship series last fall.

Claimed off waivers by the Athletics, Inge has two homers and

nine RBIs through his first seven games for Oakland, including a

game-ending grand slam in Tuesday’s 7-3 victory over the Blue

Jays.

The Tigers will give the ball to Max Scherzer (1-3, 6.32 ERA),

whose last three starts have resulted in Detroit losses.

The right-hander couldn’t be blamed for the outcome of

Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. He yielded one run

and four hits over seven innings while striking out nine and left

with the lead, but closer Jose Valverde gave up two runs in the

ninth to blow the save.

Scherzer lost to the Athletics last season, allowing five runs

and seven hits – three homers – in five innings of a 6-1 defeat in

Oakland on Sept. 15.

He’ll be opposed by Bartolo Colon (3-2, 2.83), who is seeking

his first win over the Tigers since April 13, 2003, with the White

Sox. The right-hander, who turns 39 in two weeks, is 0-6 with a

6.93 ERA in 11 games – 10 starts – versus Detroit since then.

Colon allowed three runs and eight hits, including three homers,

in five innings of Saturday’s 4-3 win in 12 innings at Tampa

Bay.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland may be tempted to give a start to

veteran middle infielder Ramon Santiago, who is 11 for 20 with

three doubles and a triple off Colon.