Detroit Tigers (28-18) at Oakland Athletics (30-20), 4:05 p.m. (ET)

 

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The two best teams in the American League will square off on Monday, as the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers play the first of four games at O.co Coliseum.

However, neither team has looked the part the last week.

Oakland, which sits atop the AL West, has lost four in a row after getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend, while the AL Central-leading Tigers have dropped six of seven.

"You're not always going to score seven, eight runs a game and right now we're going through a drought," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said after his team's 3-1 loss on Sunday.

While the A's have seen their division lead dwindled to just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Detroit still holds a comfortable 5 1/2- game advantage on both Kansas City and Minnesota.

Detroit, though, was embarrassed over the weekend, as it was outscored, 24-6, in losing its final two games to the Texas Rangers. Justin Verlander was on the hill for Sunday's 12-4 shellacking and yielded nine runs (6 earned) in 5 1/3 frames.

"Obviously it wasn't a good day, but turn the page," Verlander said.

To make matters worse, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera left the game with a hamstring cramp and is questionable for today's tilt.

Heading to the hill for the Tigers on Monday will be lefty Drew Smyly, who is 2-2 with a 2.97 ERA. Smyly hasn't started since getting a no-decision on May 19 in Cleveland. He gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings of that one, but also walked five batters in the 5-4 loss.

This will be Smyly's first start versus the A's, but has given up five runs in 2 1/3 innings of three relief appearances against them.

Oakland, meanwhile, will turn to a lefty of its own in Tommy Milone, who has won his last two decisions. Milone beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, holding them to a pair of runs over 5 2/3 innings, as he improved to 2-3, while lowering his ERA to 3.99.

"When I go out there I feel confident," Milone said. "Really, the last three starts [Derek Norris] has caught me, I don't think I've shook him off one time. It's a really comfortable feeling knowing I can go out there and whatever he throws down, I can execute it."

Milone has faced the Tigers three times and is 2-0 against them with a 3.24 ERA.

Of course, these two teams have met the last two years in the ALDS with Detroit winning each series. Oakland, though, was 4-3 in the regular season against the Tigers a year ago.

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