If the Detroit Tigers' losing streak is going to come to an end Thursday, it's going to have to happen with a pitcher coming off a start infamous on levels unseen in more than 100 years.
Shane Greene returns to a more comfortable home environment and will try to overcome last weekend's disaster while helping his team halt a six-game skid in this finale against the Oakland Athletics.
After Wednesday's 6-1 loss, Detroit (28-26) is in danger of its first seven-game losing streak since April 26-May 2, 2011. Over a 2-7 span, the Tigers are averaging exactly two runs and batting .202. Ian Kinsler was 0 for 4 and is in a 3-for-42 slump over his last 11 games, as was Anthony Gose to stretch his skid to 1 for 23.
"The effort is there and the talent is there," manager Brad Ausmus said. "You have to believe that over 162 games in six months, it is going to come out."
Oakland (22-33) is out to conclude the season series with wins in four of six and its first sweep of the Tigers since June 2-4, 2008. It hasn't swept them in Detroit since Aug. 23-25, 2002.
The A's have won four in a row on the road, three straight overall and eight of 11, over which the starting staff's 1.36 ERA and .196 opponent batting average lead the majors.
Offense continued to come from Billy Burns, who had a three-run triple and is batting .412 on an eight-game hitting streak. It came on a 0-0 count, and the center fielder is 14 for 26 with two home runs, a triple and two doubles on the first pitch.
"He's had some quick at-bats, but he's pretty good at picking the pitch he wants," manager Bob Melvin told MLB's official website. "He was looking for something inside hard, and got it. Just another big hit. Now he's starting to drive runs in, too."
Any outcome is unlikely to be any worse for Greene (4-4, 5.19 ERA) than Saturday's 8-6 loss in Anaheim. Green became the first pitcher dating to 1914 to surrender five home runs in an appearance of under two innings. It amounted to seven runs and six hits with a walk in 1 2-3 innings for the shortest start of his two seasons in the majors.
"When things go bad for him, the fastball's up and doesn't sink as much," Ausmus said. "I mean, you don't usually see home runs like that as a result."
The right-hander also lost the start before after allowing four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-0 final on May 25 in Oakland for his only career outing against the A's.
After winning his first three starts with a 0.39 ERA, Greene is 1-4 with an 8.12 ERA in his last eight. He's been better at home, and dating to last season with the New York Yankees, he's 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in six starts at Comerica Park with two home runs allowed in 40 1-3 innings.
Jesse Hahn has been a little more reliable, going at least five innings in each of his 10 starts with Oakland. The right-hander's best start in two big league seasons came against Greene last month, when he allowed four hits in his first career complete game. Hahn (2-5, 3.77) has held Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez hitless in four at-bats each, but Miguel Cabrera was out of the lineup.
The 25-year-old followed that up by yielding four runs in six innings of Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Yankees.
Most of his struggles have come on the road with a 1-3 record and 5.40 ERA in four starts.