Game 34 Preview: Tigers at Athletics

May 8, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jarrod Parker (11) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (16-17) at Oakland Athletics (18-16)

Time/Place: 4:00 p.m., Oakland Coliseum

SB Nation Blog: Athletics Nation

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

Pitching Matchup: Justin Verlander (3-1, 2.63 ERA) vs. Jarrod Parker (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

Parker is a 23-year old righthander making his 5th career start this afternoon. He has a fastball that sits at 92-93 mph along with a slider and changeup in the low 80s. He also has a nice pickoff move -- while I was writing the previous sentence, he picked off Yunel Escobar of the Toronto Blue Jays. Parker has benefited from a high strand rate and low HR/FB ratio thus far; he has an FIP of 3.75 and an xFIP of 4.55.

In his last start, Parker struggled with his control quite a bit. He walked five Toronto hitters, but was still able to get through 7 innings, giving up just 2 runs. His other two starts in 2012 have transpired in similar fashion, giving up one run each to the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox in 6+ innings.

Good news for Verlander: the closest Taco Bell is about half a mile away from Oakland Coliseum, and there are plenty throughout the Bay Area. As for the game itself, we can all but guarantee at least 6 IP from Verlander, who has a streak of 49 starts spanning at least 6 frames. Once again, we're spoiled.

Struggle Bus

Miguel Cabrera hasn't drawn a walk since the first game of the Tigers' series with the New York Yankees on April 27th. In the 13 games since, Cabrera is hitting a pedestrian .273/.286/.400. While it's obvious that his OBP will be lower than expected, his slugging percentage is also much lower than usual. Cabrera is slugging .481 on the season and has a career percentage of .554. Based on what I've seen, it looks like Cabrera isn't seeing the ball as well as he normally does. He's not striking out at a higher clip, but we've seen some uncharacteristically bad swings from him in recent games. It's frustrating for now, but Cabrera is too good of a hitter for this to last for too much longer.

Outlook

You know the offense is struggling when Austin Jackson has the highest OPS on the team. While Jackson's fast start is definitely a welcome sight, the lack of power coming from the middle of the order is what is plaguing this team. Big innings resulting from stringing single after single together don't happen often in a game where a 30% success rate makes you a great hitter. Once the power starts to perk up, the offense will improve. Until then, we'll have games like we've seen on this road trip. As for this game? The MVP is on the hill, and I fully expect a Tigers 'W' at the end of the day.

Prediction

Ryan Raburn earns an "I see you" from Rod Allen today. Call it a hunch.

Gameday Reading:

A's Parker shaped by happenstance, injury, family - San Francisco Chronicle, Susan Slusser
Background info on Parker, who apparently used to mix a knuckleball in with his repertoire. Good thing for the Tigers that he's gotten away from that one.

A's place six on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list - MLB.com, Jane Lee
Jarrod Parker originally debuted at #26 on the MLB's prospect list for this season, but he has moved up two spots over the past month.

Brandon McCarthy defeats his doppleganger, Oakland cruises to 3-1 victory over Detroit - Athletics Nation
See, I wasn't the only one who saw the similarities between McCarthy and Doug Fister. Last night, Fister was the poor man's McCarthy though.

Detroit Tigers Record Falls Under Five Hundred; Season Over - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
"I don’t know what the answer is. No one does. That’s why they play the games. 162 of them. It also takes one hot streak. A two week span where they go 10-3 and all of a sudden no one is worried."

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