Game 33 Preview: Tigers at Athletics

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: Brandon McCarthy #32 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 27, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers (16-16) at Oakland Athletics (17-16)

Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Oakland Coliseum

SB Nation Blog: Athletics Nation

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Doug Fister (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Brandon McCarthy (2-3, 2.96 ERA)

McCarthy broke out with the A's last season, pitching his way to a 3.32 ERA in 170+ innings. He only won nine games in 2011, but had a whopping nine quality starts that resulted in either a loss or no decision. His career prior to 2011 is somewhat irrelevant, as he "reinvented" himself by developing a solid two-seam fastball and pitching to contact more often. Long story short, he's a poor man's Doug Fister (except he's making about 10 times as much money this season).

McCarthy's last two starts have been his best of the season, giving up a combined 10 hits and three runs in 13 2/3 innings against the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. He missed his scheduled start earlier this week against the Toronto Blue Jays due to a minor shoulder injury. Throughout the season, McCarthy has been relying primarily on a couple of fastballs -- we're talking about 80% of the time -- while mixing in some offspeed stuff on occasion.

Speaking of pitchers with injuries, I don't think anyone could have pictured Doug Fister's start against Seattle going much better. Well, for the first 8 innings, that is. Fister was dominant through 7 innings, throwing just 73 pitches, and igniting the "never take out an effective starter" and "pitch counts, bah humbug" type of arguments from Tigers fans everywhere. I said it then and I'll say it again: I applaud Jim Leyland for pulling Fister after the 7th inning. Everything after that? You're on your own, skipper.

Tiger killers, or just good at baseball?

While Kila Ka`aihue seems to be heating up at the right time, it remains to be seen if this is an honest-to-goodness breakout season or just a hot stretch for the 28-year old first baseman. Despite his efforts in this series, he still has an OPS under .800 on the season. On the other hand, Josh Reddick looks like he's putting it all together for the A's. At just 25 years old, Reddick is hitting .292/.343/.554 this season with 8 home runs. He would have more than 19 RBI if Jemile Weeks and Cliff Pennington didn't have OBPs of .268 and .267, respectively. Both Reddick's BABIP and line drive rates are in line with his career averages, so there isn't yet an explanation as to why he's hitting the cover off the ball right now.

Random thought

Today is Lou Whitaker's 55th birthday. Anyone think he's still got it? We could use a decent 2nd baseman.

Outlook

As I kind of alluded to yesterday, Tommy Milone gave the Tigers' offense fits, reducing some to believe that Thursday night was just a random outburst instead of a sign that the bats are starting to heat up. While I still have faith that the offense will heat up soon, I don't see it happening tonight. Brandon McCarthy had a 2.41 ERA in 18 2/3 innings against the Tigers last season, and seems to have found his groove in his last two starts. Luckily for the Tigers, Fister was even better against the A's, with a 1.93 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. This is probably going to be a low-scoring affair.

Prediction

McCarthy induces at least three Tigers double plays this evening, while someone complains that Fister was pulled too early in the game recap thread.

Gameday Reading:

Oakland A's Brandon McCarthy is writing Moneyball's next chapter by reinventing himself with analytics - ESPN The Magazine, Eddie Matz
I originally found this article on McCarthy for the morning links a couple of months ago, but I thought it was worth a re-read today. I especially enjoyed the "how-to" sidebar with unheard-of terms like BABIP and FIP.

A's McCarthy being careful with shoulder - San Francisco Chronicle, Steve Kroner
McCarthy missed a start earlier this week, but he was feeling better on Thursday and will make his scheduled start this evening.

Oakland A's bullpen has been a strength of the team in the early season - San Jose Mercury News, Joe Stiglich
"Oakland's bullpen entered Monday ranked fourth in the A.L. with a 2.59 ERA and has held opponents to a .204 batting average, tied for second in the league."

Detroit Tigers Beaten by the Oakland Inges - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
A doctoral level theory on how to get Brandon Inge out. Translation: "like, don't throw fastballs dude."

INGEcredible and REDDICKulous; A's Pounce on Tigers - Athletics Nation
"I will bet you 1 million dollars that Brandon Inge never thought he would ever be in the same tweet as Lou Gehrig."

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