(Photo credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
One pitcher looking to prove his major league debut was no fluke and another hoping for redemption after a shaky first outing might square off Saturday afternoon when the Oakland Athletics host the Detroit Tigers in the third game of a four-game series.
The teams have split the first two games ofthe set. The A's (47-107) got home runs from Brent Rooker and Shea Langeliers in an 8-2 triumph on Friday night after the Tigers (72-82) rode the pitching of Tarik Skubal to an 7-3 win in the opener.
The homer by Rooker, his 29th of the season, was the sixth in his past nine games as Oakland broke an eight-game losing streak on Friday. A's manager Mark Kotsay knew it was gone when he saw his powerful outfielder take his eye off the flight of the ball almost immediately.
"This is Rooker when he gets hot and locked in," Kotsay said. "It's fun to watch him at this park when he thinks he's hit one. He'll look up at the board and check out exit velo to make sure it's going to be a homer.
"He's definitely swinging the bat well. It's great to see him finishing on that type of note."
Rooker also homered in Thursday's loss, helping spoil the big-league debut of Brenan Hanifee, a 2016 draft choice who is finally getting his shot in the majors.
Hanifee pitched a 1-2-3 eighth in relief of Skubal before giving up three runs in the ninth, a frame that included Rooker's two-run shot.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch nonetheless tipped his cap to the 25-year-old right-hander and noted he can't wait to run him out there again, perhaps as early as Saturday, when the skipper has tentatively scheduled a bullpen day.
"First homer to an All-Star," Hinch said. "That first inning, really good for him to get in there. Unfortunately he gave up a couple runs, but tonight will be a blur for him. He made it to the big leagues. He'll always be able to call himself a big-leaguer."
The same is true for A's prospect Joe Boyle (0-0, 0.00 ERA), whose first major league outing was a rousing success on Sunday against the visiting San Diego Padres.
The Notre Dame product threw three shutout innings, retiring nine of the 12 batters he faced, striking out four while allowing a single and two walks. He was pulled after throwing 58 pitches.
The 24-year-old figures to get an opportunity to face 12-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera, who is making his final Oakland visit in a career that will formally end on Oct. 1 in Detroit.
Cabrera had one of the Tigers' five hits on Friday, the 624th double of his career, which allowed him to tie Hank Aaron for 13th on the all-time list.
Recognizing the significance of the liner into the left-field corner, Cabrera's teammates immediately called for the ball to be taken out of play.
Eight of those doubles have come at the Oakland Coliseum in 43 visits, and that doesn't count the two he hit at home in Game 2 of the 2012 American League Division Series, a best-of-five set the Tigers won 3-2 en route to a spot in the World Series.
--Field Level Media