DETROIT -- The A's got hammered Tuesday in their opener of an all-important 10-game trip.
Was it an aberration or a sign of things to come?
That's the big question coming out of Oakland's 12-2 trouncing at the hands of the Detroit Tigers to open a three-game series at Comerica Park.
Rookie right-hander A.J. Griffin finally showed he's not invincible, serving up three home runs and suffering his first major league loss in his 12th career start.
Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera terrorized the A's as he usually does, hitting two homers -- including a grand slam -- and delivering six RBIs while a crowd of 31,243 serenaded him with "MVP!" chants.
Griffin and A's manager Bob Melvin chalked up the A's most lopsided defeat of 2012 as simply a bad day that needs to be left in the rearview mirror.
"It's a dry erase board," Griffin said. "We're gonna wipe this one clean. It's a new day (Wednesday)."
However, on Wednesday the Tigers send defending American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to the mound. That's no easy pitcher to rebound against, and the A's might be facing him short-handed.
Center fielder and leadoff man Coco Crisp left in the fourth inning with complications from pink eye, which also sidelined him Sunday.
"I just wasn't comfortable. He wasn't seeing the ball 100 percent," Melvin said. "I certainly don't want to put anybody in a bad position. If you're not seeing the spin on the ball,
Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes was hobbling through the clubhouse with a big ice pack after the game, having twisted his right ankle coming out of the box on a single in the seventh.
He was asked if he thought he would play Wednesday.
"Every day," he said in English.
It was no way to start this three-city trek that will have major implications on the A's postseason hopes. They still held a one-game lead for the A.L.'s top wild card spot pending the Orioles' result late Tuesday night.
Griffin (6-1) entered as the only pitcher since at least 1918 to allow three runs or fewer and two walks or fewer in each of his first 11 starts.
He allowed a run in the first, then served up Jhonny Peralta's solo shot in the second to give Detroit the lead for good. The next inning, he hung a 68 mph curve that Cabrera lined into the left field seats.
Prince Fielder made him pay for another belt-high offering in the fifth, lining a two-run homer to right-center that made it 5-1. Griffin was pulled after giving up eight hits and five runs in 42/3 innings.
"We're used to seeing him painting all the time and mixing his pitches," Melvin said. "He just was off today. It's the first time we've seen him like that."
Cabrera has 13 homers and 42 RBIs in 39 career games against the A's, and he became the 10th Tigers player to reach 40 homers in a season Tuesday.
After he unloaded his grand slam in the eighth off Jesse Chavez to make it a true laugher, Chavez was ejected for hitting Fielder on the arm in the next at-bat. Chavez had worked the count to 1-2 before hitting Fielder, prompting Melvin to argue passionately with home plate umpire Jerry Meals.
"It's a 1-2 count and you gotta pitch that guy in," Melvin said. "That's ridiculous. There's no way he's trying to hit him there."
In three appearances with Oakland, Chavez has allowed nine hits and seven earned runs in 21/3 innings.
Shortstop Stephen Drew also had a forgettable night, leaving six men on base in his first three at-bats and committing an error.
The A's failed to get their offense going even after Tigers starter Max Scherzer left the game after two innings with shoulder fatigue.
"Only a handful of guys are left from when I faced them last," Anderson said.
The lefty is coming off his first loss after winning four straight starts after his return from reconstructive elbow surgery. He shut out the Angels through six innings Thursday, then was charged with five runs in the seventh, four of which scored after he left the game.
Anderson said he would welcome rainy weather that hit Detroit before Tuesday's game.
"I want to pitch when the weather is the (lousiest) -- when it's freezing, raining and snowing, whenever nobody wants to get up there and swing a wooden bat," he said.
A's (Brett Anderson 4-1) at Detroit (Justin Verlander 14-8), 4:05 p.m. CSNCA
A.L. WEST race
W L Pct. GB
Texas 87 59 .596 --
A's 84 63 .571 31/2
A.L. Wild-card race
W L Pct. GB
A's 84 63 .571 --
Baltimore 83 64 .565 --
L.A. Angels 80 67 .544 3
Detroit 78 69 .531 5
Tampa Bay 78 70 .527 51/2
Note: Top two teams earn wild-card berths.
Combination of A's wins and Los Angeles losses for A's to clinch wild-card spot.
* Before Angels' game Tuesday