Following a sweep of the Marlins over the weekend to pad their status as the best team in the Majors, the A's are in good shape as they open a three-game set against the American League Central-leading Tigers at Comerica Park on Monday night.
While getting set for a possible playoff-preview showdown against Detroit, Oakland has to be looking over its shoulder to see the hard-charging Angels trying to keeping pace. The A's have won 11 of their last 14 games. But the Halos have won eight of their past 11.
Oakland's offense has carried the club during its hot streak, but against the Tigers, a starting rotation that has been shaky as of late, will need to find its footing. Detroit leads the American League with a .276 team batting average and is fourth with 361 runs scored. A's starters have posted a 5.76 ERA over their last 12 games.
Left-hander Scott Kazmir has been Oakland's most reliable starter so far in 2014, but he's coming off his worst outing of season. He struggled against the Mets on Tuesday, giving up seven runs on eight hits over three innings. Prior to that, Kazmir had allowed just six runs on 23 hits over 35 1/3 innings (1.53 ERA).
"We made the right pitches, just didn't quite execute, and that was the most frustrating part," said catcher Stephen Vogt after that game. "I'm not worried. I don't think we're worried at all. He's such a good pitcher. He's been strong all year for us. Just one bad night."
Kazmir hopes it was just that as he looks to get back on track against Detroit, against whom he is 5-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 14 career starts.
The southpaw's counterpart on Monday will be right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who he has matched up against once before this season. On May 28 in Oakland, the two dueled into the ninth inning, when Sanchez gave way to closer Joe Nathan after giving up a one-out double to Coco Crisp. Nathan eventually surrendered a walk-off three-run homer to Josh Donaldson.
Sanchez is 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA in eight starts dating back to May 18, his first outing after a stint on the disabled list with a blister on his right middle finger.
His last start, however, wasn't his finest. The right-hander yielded four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Rangers in Arlington on Wednesday, though he got the win.
"His pitch count got up, especially in the fourth," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I don't think he was as sharp as he was the last few outings, but he certainly pitched well enough to get us a win."
A's: Reddick placed on DL, Freiman recalled and homers
The A's placed right fielder Josh Reddick on the disabled list for the second time this season due to an injured right knee. He hyperextended the knee in early June and after missing three weeks, aggravated the knee during Oakland's 7-6 win on Saturday.
First baseman Nate Freiman was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento, and hit a three-run homer in Oakland's four-run sixth inning in Sunday's 4-3 win to complete a sweep of the Marlins.
Freiman spent the entire 2013 campaign with the A's in a platoon with Brandon Moss. He hit .274 with four home runs and 24 RBIs in 80 games.
Tigers: Jackson bats leadoff for the first time in 2014
Center fielder Austin Jackson was in the leadoff spot of Detroit's lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Astros in Houston.
Prior to Sunday, Jackson had played in 557 games in which he batted leadoff, but only one this season. Going into the series finale he was batting .281 for his career from the top spot in the batting order.
"Well, he's done it before," Ausmus said before the game. "I hope he goes 3-for-4 and I have to end up leaving him in there and he keeps hitting."
Jackson went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and continues to struggle this season, batting .244 with 29 RBIs.
• The A's have hit 89 home runs this season, which entering Sunday's action, was fourth-most in the Majors. Sanchez has allowed only two homers in 75 innings pitched this season.
• Donaldson is 4-for-11 (.364) with two RBIs in his career against Sanchez. Crisp is 3-for-10 with two doubles and a homer against the right-hander.
• Victor Martinez is 11-for-23 (.478) with three doubles, a homer and four RBIs against Kazmir. Rajai Davis is 9-for-18 with three doubles, a triple, a homer and six RBIs against the left-hander.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.