video thumbnail

OAK@TOR: Straily shuts out Blue Jays through seven

Nevermind that the game lasted just six innings due to rain. The A's beat the Tigers in Tuesday's second game of a four-game set in a potential future postseason matchup, and they did so behind a competent showing at the plate.

More so than defeating Justin Verlander -- who was devastatingly effective against Oakland in last fall's American League Division Series -- for the first time since April 16, 2011, Oakland hit, and did so in support of a subpar outing from its starting pitcher.

The A's bats have seemingly returned to form as they turn the corner into the last month of the season. They're hitting .261 and averaging 4.73 runs per game over their last 19 after hitting .209 and averaging 3.13 over the previous 23 contests. Oakland holds a Wild Card spot and is 2 1/2 games back in the AL West.

Looking to stifle the A's and help build on Detroit's lead in the AL Central is Doug Fister, who battled in his last start against the Mets but still pitched well. He allowed only one run on eight hits, finishing with four strikeouts, and he's given up two runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts.

"For me, it's constantly a 0-0 ballgame in my head, but it's definitely a team lifter and definitely a confidence booster for the team," said Fister, who was provided with a cushion in Detroit's 6-1 win before he took the mound. "Everybody is able to play loose and play together."

Opposite Fister is Dan Straily, who escaped with a no-decision after yielding six runs on four hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings on Friday against the Orioles. He has just one quality start in his past six outings -- his ERA rising from 4.14 to 4.56 in that span -- and he is is 0-5 with a 5.20 ERA in seven starts since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on July 20.

A's: Barton returns with a more positive outlook
Daric Barton is doing his best to make the most of his recent callup with the A's. The 28-year-old is three years removed from when he last saw consistent playing time.

He went 0-for-2 with a walk in Tuesday's rain-shortened win against the Tigers and 2-for-5 with two RBIs in Monday's series opener. Barton was brought back up after Josh Reddick was placed on the disabled list.

This is his second stint with the A's this season after hitting .297 in 110 games for Triple-A Sacramento, and his mindset is positive.

"You know what? Besides being healthy, that's been the biggest thing," said Barton, recalled Monday. "It was the only thing. It was the only thing I focused on all year, really the mental aspect of not just my play on the field but off it as well, having a consistent approach not just to baseball but to life, trying to stay positive and to do what I can that day. I learned to turn the page real quick on bad days."

Tigers: Avila comes off DL after concussion recovery
Alex Avila has returned after more than two weeks on the disabled list, and he believes he's back from the concussion symptoms that left him sidelined for much of August. The Tigers activated the catcher from the 15-day DL on Tuesday, returning him to big league action for the first time since Aug. 10. He went 0-for-2 in the Tigers' loss.

He returns with more protective equipment to hopefully prevent a recurrence of the injury. Avila also returns with a keen awareness of how serious his situation was.

"It's been on my mind a lot," he said. "When I saw pictures of my daughter when I'm on the road, or when I was in Toledo and I had to come out of the first [rehab] game, I'm not going to lie, it was on my mind. But at the same time, I know that there's people that care about me as far as making sure that I am healthy.

"That's one of the reasons why I think we took our time with it to make sure that I was healthy before I came back. That's definitely something I thought about."

Avila joined Triple-A Toledo on a rehab assignment last week and caught three innings last Thursday before reporting more headaches. After returning to the Mud Hens' lineup for a game as designated hitter last Saturday, he spent the past two days catching seven innings apiece without any trouble.

Worth noting
• The A's have yet to make a decision on when they'll activate Brett Anderson (right foot) off the disabled list, though manager Bob Melvin maintains that time could still come during his club's four-game series in Detroit that concludes Thursday.

• The Tigers have thrown out only 19 percent of potential basestealers, the lowest mark in the AL. In fact, opposing teams have successfully stolen 17 straight bases against Detroit, with only one runner picked off in that span.

• Alberto Callaspo has an 11-game hitting streak against Detroit dating back to last year and is 13 for 37 (.351) over that span.

MLB.com Comments