If Prince Fielder keeps pounding the ball the way he has and Anibal Sanchez pitches like he did in his first two outings, the Detroit Tigers would appear to be in good shape to start their nine-game West Coast trip off on a positive note.
Both look to help the Tigers build on their latest victory in the decisive series finale against the banged-up Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Less than 24 hours after Detroit (6-5) blew a 3-0 lead in a 4-3, 12-inning loss, the Tigers homered three times and got six solid innings from ace Justin Verlander to snap Oakland's nine-game winning streak with a 7-3 victory Saturday.
Fielder homered for the second straight game and Torii Hunter hit his first for the Tigers, who did not let the A's (9-3) rally after building a 7-1 lead."Obviously they're a team that comes back and they play hard the whole game," Fielder said. "Any time you have a lead you definitely want to keep it against them, especially in the late innings, because you never know what's going to happen."
Fielder went 2 for 12 with an RBI in the first three games of the season but is 15 for 27 (.556) with four homers and 17 RBIs while hitting safely in the last eight. Including last postseason, he's batting .529 (9 for 17) with three home runs and six RBIs in four games versus Oakland."I don't think it's any stretch of the imagination that he's got a good chance to win the MVP in this league," Verlander said. "He's definitely got the talent to do it and everybody knows he can."
Sanchez (1-0, 1.50 ERA), meanwhile, has allowed two runs, seven hits and struck out 13 in 12 innings of his first two starts. Both runs came in seven innings of a 7-3 win over Toronto on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA versus Oakland, but allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings of Detroit's 2-0 loss in Game 3 of the AL division series in October.
Oakland outfielder Seth Smith is 7 for 15 (.467) with three homers and a double against Sanchez, and had two hits Saturday. Normally the team's designated hitter, Smith could see more time in the outfield as Coco Crisp deals with a groin injury suffered Friday and Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his hand.
Smith is 13 for 26 (.500) with a homer and six RBIs in eight games this season.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin does not expect Crisp to need a DL stint like Cespedes."We want to make sure (Cespedes) is 100 percent healthy when he comes back," Melvin said. "We're not looking at surgery, so in that regard we're fortunate."
Melvin hands the ball to Jarrod Parker (0-1, 6.48), who including the postseason, is 0-3 with a 3.93 ERA against the Tigers.
The right-hander allowed two runs, nine hits and walked three for the second straight start in 3 1-3 innings of a 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
"We haven't seen that in a while and missing by, at times, wide margins, which he doesn't normally do either," Melvin told the Athletics' official website.
|April 09, 2013||Victor Martinez||Day-to-Day||Lacerated right thumb|
|March 22, 2013||Avisail Garcia||15-Day DL||Bruised right heel|
|April 13, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||15-Day DL||Strained muscle, left hand|
|April 12, 2013||Coco Crisp||Day-to-Day||Strained left groin|
|April 10, 2013||Scott Sizemore||15-Day DL||Torn left ACL - out for season|
|April 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||Day-to-Day||Sprained right wrist|
|March 27, 2013||Hiroyuki Nakajima||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 26, 2013||Adam Rosales||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Injured Octavio Dotel danced his way through the Detroit clubhouse, gyrating and skipping while Torii Hunter held court in front of his locker.
The AL's top hitting team is piling up the hits and runs - and having a good time along the way.
Getting solid production from leadoff hitter Austin Jackson and the lower part of the batting order, the Tigers routed the Oakland Athletics 10-1 Sunday for their third win in four games.
Jackson had four hits, including a two-run homer, and Detroit got a much-needed boost from its Nos. 5-9 hitter, who combined for five hits, two runs and three RBIs. Not bad, when the top of the order includes Prince Fielder and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera .
"We show you the left, then we sting with the right," said Hunter, who had two doubles and a triple. "You look at Prince, Cabrera and myself ... you kind of forget about our catfish, the bottom feeders."
Detroit's big three combined to drive in four runs and score five times, but it was Jackson and bottom of the order provided spark.
Jhonny Peralta , the No. 6 hitter, had two hits and an RBI. Victor Martinez and Andy Dirks also drove in runs for the Tigers.
"We grind out our at-bats pretty good," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Jackson really sets a good tempo for us. When your leadoff hitter gets four hits, you should score some runs."
Hunter had three extra-base hits for the first time since June 13, 2009, for the Los Angeles Angels
Cabrera drove in two runs for the Tigers, who had 14 hits. The first eight batters in the Tigers batting order had at least one hit, and seven players drove in runs.
Oakland managed just three hits while losing its second straight following a nine-game winning streak.
"They swung well this whole series, and when you're not making your pitches this is what happens," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We just got shut down the last couple of games."
Anibal Sanchez overcame a sluggish start to pitch seven innings, winning his second straight outing and giving Detroit's bullpen a needed rest.
Sanchez (2-0) pitched with runners on base in three of the first four innings but limited the damage until finding his rhythm. He allowed one run, three hits and four walks, matching his season-high of eight strikeouts.
Rick Porcello , skipped in the rotation due to Monday's off day, pitched two scoreless innings. Detroit's bullpen, taxed in recent days, was without Dotel due to an elbow injury.
Derek Norris doubled and drove in the lone run for the A's. Oakland, which entered the game leading the majors in several offensive categories, struck out 38 times in the three-game series.
Jarrod Parker (0-2), who lost to Detroit in Games 1 and 5 of last year's AL division series, gave up a career-high eight runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings, leaving him with a 10.80 ERA.
Jackson hit the first of his three singles leading off the game, and Hunter followed with an RBI double over center fielder Chris Young and scored on Martinez's single off the right-field wall for a 2-0 lead. Jackson doubled the lead in the second with his first home run this season.
"I made a couple of good pitches and they hit them, and I made a couple of bad pitches and they hit them," Parker said. "They are hot right now."
Cabrera's two-run single and Fielder's RBI double, which extended his hitting streak to nine games, chased Parker in the fourth. Dirks' run-scoring single off Evan Scribner boosted the lead to 8-0.
Norris hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom half, and Norris ended the inning by throwing a called third strike past Eric Sogard to end the threat.
NOTES: Fielder is 16 for 30 (.533) during his hitting streak. ... Hunter also has a nine-game hitting streak. ... Dotel sat out his second straight game with elbow inflammation; Leyland said the reliever is getting better. ... Oakland INF Adam Rosales , on the DL with a strained left intercostal muscle, took batting practice without pain but won't begin a rehab assignment until he can begin turning double plays and making strong throws in the field. ... Tigers RHP Doug Fister (2-0) carries a 2.77 ERA into Tuesday's start at Seattle. ... Oakland LHP Tommy Milone (2-0), who starts for the A's against Houston on Monday, has a four-game winning streak dating to last season.