Two teams that got an opportunity to show off their pitching prowess at the All-Star Game will trot out four fresh starters when the Detroit Tigers and host Oakland Athletics return from a three-day break with a doubleheader Thursday.
The injury-ravaged Tigers were still weighing their starting pitching options for Thursday. Oakland has decided on ace Frankie Montas (3-9, 3.26 ERA) and rookie Zach Logue (3-4, 5.16) to start in the second doubleheader between the clubs this season.
Montas and Logue pitched in an earlier five-game series at Detroit, when the A’s won four times, including the last three. The modest three-game winning streak, which ended the next day against the Los Angeles Angels, still stands as Oakland’s longest of the season.
The only game the A’s lost in the series was started by Montas, in the opener of a May 10 doubleheader. Detroit’s Jonathan Schoop homered in a 6-0 win that went scoreless into the fifth inning.
Oakland’s Paul Blackburn got the A’s off to a strong start earlier in the series with 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 win. It helped the 28-year-old build a resume that earned him a spot in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, where he pitched a scoreless fourth inning in the American League’s 3-2 victory.
Detroit’s Gregory Soto also contributed to the All-Star Game win, retiring Home Run Derby champion Juan Soto with the potential tying run aboard in the seventh inning.
Soto pitched just once in the previous series against the A’s, mopping up a 9-0 loss in the ninth inning and allowing an RBI double by Ramon Laureano. He followed that outing with nine-consecutive scoreless appearances.
Montas has gone 4-3 with a 5.12 ERA in eight lifetime appearances (seven starts) against the Tigers.
The right-hander missed a start last week due to tendinitis behind his right shoulder. He was pulled after one inning in his previous outing July 3 at Seattle.
The 29-year-old remains a popular name in trade rumors leading up to next week’s deadline but insists he’s not about to risk injury just to showcase himself.
“My only concern right now is just trying to get healthy, trying to get back on the mound,” Montas said. “If I get traded, it’s whatever, and if I don’t, it is what it is.”
Logue pitched his best game of the season when he went seven shutout innings in a 9-0 win at Detroit. It came in his third career appearance and second start.
The A’s (32-61) and Tigers (37-55) entered the break with the worst and third-worst records in the AL, respectively.
A rough season was expected for an Oakland club that sold off many of its most valuable assets before the season began. But Tigers manager AJ Hinch knows bigger things were expected of his club.
“Winning — winning series, winning weeks, winning months will help steer this group in the right direction,” Hinch said after his club wrapped up the first half with four consecutive losses. “It can start in Oakland. It doesn’t have to start in 2023.”
Oakland went into the break after winning two of three at first-place Houston.
–Field Level Media