DETROIT -- The A's started the second half of their season this week in Detroit's Comerica Park, and they can only hope that the Tigers' three-game sweep, capped by a 9-3 loss Wednesday afternoon, is as low as it goes.
Oakland, which split a four-game series with the Tigers in May at the Coliseum, are 2-5 against Detroit this season. While the teams are done playing each other for the regular season, they might meet again in the playoffs. They have the past two years. Detroit won both times.
"We match up pretty well with these guys," A's catcher Derek Norris said. "You look at the overall series the last three years, it's probably pretty even."
The A's won four of seven last year, the Tigers won four of seven two years ago.
"It's their pitching staff and our pesky hitters," Norris said. "Our good bullpen and starting staff, and they are very aggressive (hitters). It's a matter of you execute your pitches, you beat them. If you don't execute your pitches, they beat you. And the same thing in reverse.
"We got swept, but we took a few games from them when we were at our place. It's always a good series any time we get together.''
For now, with the Tigers in Oakland's rear-view mirror, the Toronto Blue Jays come back into focus, beginning a four-game series against the A's on Thursday at the Coliseum.
Toronto provided the low point of the A's first half, sweeping a three-game series at the Rogers Centre in May. The Blue Jays were in the middle of a streak during which they went 14-2 when they took three from the A's. The Blue Jays still lead the American League East, but their pace isn't as blistering. They'll arrive in Oakland with a 6-9 record over their last 15 games.
"They are a real good team," manager Bob Melvin said of the Blue Jays. "We caught them there when they were in the midst of really playing well. And it's not like they've been playing poorly since. But that was a real hot streak that they were in.
"You've always got to pitch against those guys and score some runs, because they are going to score some runs. It's one of the elite teams in the American League."
The A's aren't exactly smoking right now, though they did have a chance to win two of the three games against the Tigers.
They didn't protect or add to an early lead they got Wednesday when Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss homered in the first inning off October nemesis Justin Verlander.
By the fourth inning, the Tigers had gone ahead against losing pitcher Jesse Chavez (6-5). Torii Hunter had RBI singles in the first and third innings, and Austin Jackson broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth with another run-scoring hit. Detroit's first three runs all came on two-out hits.
"I was fighting myself instead of being relaxed," said Chavez, who gave up five runs in his five-plus innings of work, yielding eight hits and walking four. "It's annoying when you are one out away from a clean inning. The biggest thing is giving back the lead. Once you have it, you want to keep it and go as deep as you can."
The offense could have made Chavez's life easier. In the second and sixth they loaded the bases but failed to score.
"The sixth inning was the key," Melvin said. "We had first and third and nobody out. And then they get a six-spot."
The Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate while scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth, building their lead to 9-2.
Chavez walked the first two batters in the sixth, but most of the damage came against embattled reliever Jim Johnson, who gave up four consecutive hits and was charged with four runs in a third of an inning, driving his ERA up to 5.94.
For John Hickey on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3.
Toronto (R.A. Dickey 6-7)
at A's (Sonny Gray 7-3),
6:05 p.m. CSNCA