Oakland — Detroit Tigers right-hander Mike Fiers isn't expected to miss a start after having coming out of his last game Wednesday after just two innings.
He will get an extra day to recover, however. Manager Ron Gardenhire said before Friday’s series opener in Oakland that Fiers is scheduled to pitch Tuesday in the second game of the Tigers’ series in Anaheim against the Angels.
Gardenhire said Fiers was good to go. He’s getting the extra day as much as anything because of the day off the club enjoyed Monday before this West Coast swing.
Fiers was hit in the left shin by a comebacker hit by Cincinnati’s Mason Williams in the second inning. Fiers finished the inning, but was replaced by Drew VerHagen to start the third inning.
Liriano good to go
Francisco Liriano will pitch in Sunday’s series finale in what will be his first start since he came down with a rash that scratched him from a start in Kansas City. He has pitched once in relief last Sunday amid speculation that the Tigers wanted to show potential trade-deadline suitors he was good to go.
“I’m good now,” Liriano said, adding that having a full body rash wasn’t something he’d wish on anyone. He said he lost four pounds but “I’ve got my appetite back now.”
He said the rash appears to have been an allergic reaction to some chemical sprays used by his neighbors in the Miami area during the time he was home for the All-Star break.
Kids are all right
The A’s and the Tigers have young lineups. Both teams have rosters than rank among the six youngest in the major leagues.
But Gardenhire said Detroit could learn something from the A’s. While he’s seen the Tigers chase too many pitches too often, he looks at the A’s and sees a club that isn’t overly eager.
“Sometimes a bit of panic sets in; we make a lot of pretty quick outs,” Gardenhire said without singling anyone out. “We make a lot of first-pitch outs because we’re not confident.”
He said that cycle ends when the hitters learn to trust themselves in each at-bat, but “sometimes that doesn’t come for a year or two.”
He contrasts that to the A’s, who have seen young players like third baseman Matt Chapman, first baseman Matt Olson and outfielder Mark Canha become offensive forces. The three of them have combined to hit 48 homers and drive in 139 runs entering the series.
“At times they’re relentless, unstoppable,” Gardenhire said in looking back at the four games the A’s swept in Comerica Park. “They just kept having good at-bats. They have young hitters over there, but they have great at-bats because they don’t go out of the zone.”
Hope in the bullpen
The 2018 season hasn’t been a smooth road for the Tigers’ bullpen, not with a 4.33 cumulative ERA and 18 blown saves. But there have been some good signs too as the club tries to build a bullpen that will be competitive down the road.
One of those is right-hander Louis Coleman, who has come off a couple of rocky performances in early July to enter the weekend series in Oakland with a 2.08 ERA in his last five games while holding opposing hitters to a .200 average. After spending the first six weeks of the season with Triple-A Toledo (a 2.40 ERA and eight saves, second in the International League), he’d put together a 1.20 ERA in his first dozen games before falling on hard times.
“When we finally got him up here, he was pretty good,” Gardenhire said. “Then he sort of lost his release point.”
In a dozen games from June 9-July 9, he had a 7.84 ERA with one loss and two blown saves. But Coleman’s last five games suggest he’s found that release point again.
“It looks like he’s pretty close to being back,” Gardenhire said.
Around the horn
The Tigers came into the series having lost nine consecutive games to the A’s over the last two seasons. That’s the longest such streak against the A’s franchise since losing 10 straight to the Philadelphia A’s May 19-June 28, 1931.
John Hickey is a freelance writer.