The Tigers head into Oakland tonight to begin a four game series with the A’s, and while Brandon Inge is likely to be a big talking point this weekend, there is more to the A’s than the infamous ex-Tiger Inge.
I know what you are thinking. The Tigers should waltz into Oakland and at least walk away with 3 out of 4. On paper, I certainly would agree with you. The Tigers, despite their struggling offense, are still in better shape on that end than the A’s. The A’s top hitting regular is Josh Reddick at a .264 batting average. Reddick, who I tabbed as one of my breakout players before the season, has shown a good combination of pop, speed, and quality defense. Combined with Cuban import Yoennis Cespedes, the A’s are starting to develop a couple young outfielders in the middle of their order.
Despite the excitement over those two guys, the A’s overall have been abysmal on offense so far this season. They are 13th in the American League in runs, and have a batting average of .215. They are last in OPS as well.
The pitching staff has been much better, they are third in the American League with an ERA of 3.52. The starters are led by Brandon McCarthy, but he is going through a right shoulder issue right now. The Tigers opposing pitcher in the 1st game of the series, Bartolo Colon, has been real good as well. Colon, in 7 starts this season, has posted an ERA of 2.83 so far on the season. The A’s have also recently added top prospect Jarrod Parker to the mix as well, and in 3 starts he has an ERA of 1.80.
Grant Balfour, the A’s closer, has struggled on the back end of games this season, converting just 7 of his 9 save opportunities so far, and posting an ERA of 4.42.
Don’t be fooled though, despite the offensive struggles, pitching injuries, and an up and down closer, the A’s have a better record than the Tigers. Well, one game better than the Tigers at 16-15.
The Tigers and A’s are two very similar teams right now. Good starting pitching, a struggling closer, and an offense that just isn’t very good. Still, the Tigers should take care of this team pretty handily. Of course, the Tigers were supposed to take care of the Mariners as well, and we all know what happened there.
This should be an interesting series, if not for any other reason to see if the Tigers are able to start putting a streak of good games together against a supposedly inferior team. And, oh yeah, the Tigers and their fans get to see that one guy…
What was his name again?