Alfredo Simon likes to keep batters guessing, and that's partly why he leads the Detroit Tigers in wins.
The Oakland Athletics are the latest team Simon will try to throw off balance in Wednesday's decisive road finale.
Simon (5-2, 2.67 ERA) has a 1.31 ERA over his last three starts. He allowed two unearned runs over seven innings Friday in a 6-2 win over Houston, the fifth time in a Detroit uniform he's allowed one or no earned runs.
He baffled the Astros with a curveball that didn't register on the radar gun, a fastball in the low 90s, a cutter, a splitter and a pitch he's dubbed a "slow splitter" that comes in at 55 mph. He also threw one pitch sidearm, and claims he's got other tricks.
"Like Forrest Gump says, 'Alfredo Simon is like a box of chocolates,'" manager Brad Ausmus told MLB's official website. "You never know what you're going to get. You never know what pitch, what arm angle."
Though most of Simon's success has come at Comerica Park, where he's 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in four starts, his 4.40 road ERA might not be that much of a cause for concern at the spacious O.co Coliseum. He did, however, give up six runs in 5 1-3 innings in his lone career start at Oakland with Baltimore in 2011.
The Tigers' lineup is having a tough time with 10 hits in this series, but David Price picked up the slack by allowing five hits in seven innings of a 1-0 win over the A's (17-31) on Tuesday.
"That was all we could muster," Ausmus said of the Tigers' six singles. "This isn't ideal. We're due to bust out for a period of time, not just one game."
Detroit (27-20) has split its last six games at Oakland, hitting .211 while 12 of the 13 runs they scored came in those victories.
Yoenis Cespedes is mired in a 3-for-19 slump over the past five games, and he's managed to get just a single in six at-bats in his first series against his former team.
The A's are trying to bounce back from their first loss in four games by turning to Scott Kazmir (2-3, 3.09), who is 0-3 with a 5.32 ERA in his last four starts. He gave up five runs - three earned - and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-3 home loss to the Chicago White Sox on May 17 after going 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA over his first three starts in Oakland.
The left-hander followed up that performance with a 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday, surrendering three runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Kazmir went 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts against the Tigers last year, tossing a six-hitter in a 3-1 home victory May 28.
He struggled against Miguel Cabrera in 2014, allowing him to go 3 for 7 with a homer and a double. Cabrera is hitting .400 with five homers and 11 RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak, and he owns a .340 average while plating 13 runs in his last 12 games in Oakland.