Detroit Tigers (16-15) at Oakland Athletics (16-16)
Time/Place: 10:00 p.m., Oakland Coliseum
SB Nation Blog: Athletics Nation
Pitching Matchup: Rick Porcello (3-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Tommy Milone (4-2, 4.42 ERA)
Milone is a young lefthander that debuted with the Washington Nationals last season. He came to Oakland in the deal that sent Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals last December. He started the season hot, allowing just six earned runs in his first four starts. Since then, he has struggled, giving up 12 runs in his last 9 2/3 innings. What changed? Based on his pitch location charts (which are, admittedly, a very small sample) it looks like Milone has been leaving his fastball up in the strike zone more often in his last couple starts.
Milone has had mixed success against right- and lefthanded hitters this season. Righties hit him for a higher average, but lefties have hit for more power -- though, to be fair, this is in just 30 plate appearances in 2012. He strikes out a lot more righties than lefties because of his excellent changeup. He has been relying on the pitch heavily this season, throwing it almost 30% of the time.
Once again, Porcello was dynamite in his last start. He shut down the Chicago White Sox for 6 1/3 innings en route to a 3-1 Tigers win. He didn't seem to have his best stuff, walking two batters and hitting two more, but he was still able to grind his way to a quality start and the all-important 'W.' Porcello will need to be on his game to get through this A's lineup, which has scored 39 runs in 8 games in the month of May.
Despite Yoenis Cespedes' struggles -- he's hitting just .205 in his last 9 games -- this A's lineup has been putting up a lot of runs. Brandon Inge's two grand slams and 13 RBIs as an Athletic help, but he's still only hitting .222 for them. So who else is getting it done? Jemile Weeks is starting to pick up his production at the top of the lineup, while tongue twister Kila Ka'aihue is humming along at a .273/.385/.545 clip in May. Jonny Gomes might be the true catalyst though. He's hitting .333 in May and has scored 6 runs in 8 games while driving in four more himself.
The offensive outburst from the Tigers last night was encouraging, but not entirely unexpected. Bartolo Colon has struggled mightily against Detroit in recent years, and the idea of throwing all strikes to an aggressive, free-swinging lineup isn't exactly a recipe for success. Milone is definitely more of the "junkballing" type of pitcher that has given this lineup fits so far this year, but his recent struggles give us reason to believe that last night may not be a mirage. While the A's lineup is starting to heat up, they still aren't the kind of team that will knock around Porcello if he is locating his fastball.
A low scoring game tonight. First team to 3 wins.
What has been the secret to Oakland's early success? - Athletics Nation
It's amazing what preseason expectations do to a fanbase when their team is playing .500 ball and sitting at second place in their division.
Oakland A's: Cespedes could return to lineup Friday - The Oakland Tribune, Joe Stiglich
So much for missing the entire series. Yoenis Cespedes might be in the lineup tonight, which is bad news for hanging breaking balls.
Know Thy Enemy: 2012 Oakland Athletics - DesigNate Robertson
"Twenty plus years later and Canseco and the A’s themselves are punchlines. They were eager to sign Brandon Inge for crissakes. With the Tigers struggling, hopefully the Athletics are just what the doctor ordered in getting Detroit back on track."