Tigers And Athletics Close Series At Comerica Park

By: Willie Bee | Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's getaway day in Motown on Thursday when the Detroit Tigers wrap up a big 3-game set with the Oakland Athletics.

First pitch from Comerica Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. (ET) with Anibal Sanchez on the hill for Jim Leyland's Tigers.  Bob Melvin counters with Tommy Milone for the A's.  The Motor City squad went out as an early $150 favorite with the MLB odds board showing an 8½-run total.

Detroit drew first blood in the series opener on Tuesday, an easy 12-2 victory behind Miguel Cabrera's big stick.  The victory still left the Tigers 3-games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central and 5.5 out of a wild card entry.  Oakland remained three back of the Texas Rangers in the AL West, and a half-game in front of the Yankees and Orioles, one of which will win the AL East, for the top wild card slot in the Junior Circuit.

Tuesday's victory might have come with a cost for Leyland's crew as starting pitcher Max Scherzer exited the game with what is being described as "shoulder fatigue." The good news is there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with his right shoulder, and the Tigers are hoping that a short amount of rest will do the trick.

The middle game of the contest on Wednesday pitted Brett Anderson vs. Justin Verlander, and was still pending with the Tigers decided favorites at -170.

Oakland is enduring a very difficult closing stretch on the schedule with this road trip continuing into New York against the Yankees and then on to Texas following Thursday's matinee.  Things started well by taking five of seven from the Angels and Orioles last week, but the A's need to rekindle some of their road magic from earlier when they won 12 straight away from home.

Milone has been solid of late, both at home and on the road, with the Athletics winning five of the southpaw's last six assignments.  The rookie out of USC also found success against this Tigers batting order back in May when he worked seven frames and allowed just one earned run to grab the cash as a +115 underdog.  Heading into Wednesday's game against another Oakland left-hander in Anderson, Detroit was 23-22 against southpaws.

Sanchez didn't get off to a great start with the Tigers following his trade from Miami, and the Tigers are just 3-6 in his nine assignments so far.  However, he has pitched well enough to have won his last five outings only to get very little help from his lineup or defense while posting a 2.07 ERA in that span (Tigers 2-3).

Thursday will be Sanchez's first career appearance vs. the Athletics.

There is a 40 percent chance of morning showers in the Detroit area on Thursday, but the weatherman says that should clear off by the afternoon.  The high is only expected to climb into the low-70s with a 10-12 mph wind from the SW (in from right).

Veteran Gary Darling is in line to have plate duty for the series finale.  Now in his 25th season as an MLB umpire, the native San Franciscan's previous 33 times to call balls and strikes this season have resulted in a 17-16 'over' mark.

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