|DETROIT ( VERLANDER )|
OAKLAND ( GRAY )
|AL Division Series - Best of 5 - Game 5 - Tied 2-2|
|955||DETROIT||-110||Ov 7,+110||-110||Ov 6.5,-105|
|956||OAKLAND||+100||Un 7,-130||+100||Un 6.5,-115|
|vs Right-handed Starters||68-48||-0.4||56-56||4.9||0.288||0.345||3.7||0.242||0.301|
|Past 7 Games||2-5||-5.4||2-5||2.4||0.206||0.259||3.0||0.220||0.298|
|vs Right-handed Starters||65-46||+11.8||59-49||4.9||0.256||0.325||4.0||0.244||0.301|
|Past 7 Games||4-3||+0.9||5-2||5.3||0.259||0.332||3.3||0.208||0.265|
|9/27/2013||ALVAREZ(L)||@ MIAMI||KOEHLER(R)||2-3||L||-130||7.5 ov||U||7||6||0||6||5||0|
|9/28/2013||SANCHEZ(R)||@ MIAMI||EOVALDI(R)||1-2||L||-185||6.5 ov||U||9||10||0||5||10||0|
|9/29/2013||VERLANDER(R)||@ MIAMI||ALVAREZ(R)||0-1||L||-170||7 un||U||0||3||1||6||7||1|
|10/4/2013||SCHERZER(R)||@ OAKLAND||COLON(R)||3-2||W||-115||6.5 ov||U||10||6||0||3||4||1|
|10/5/2013||VERLANDER(R)||@ OAKLAND||GRAY(R)||0-1||L||-110||7 un||U||4||5||0||8||10||0|
|10/10/2013||VERLANDER(R)||@ OAKLAND||GRAY(R)|| |
|9/27/2013||COLON(R)||@ SEATTLE||HERNANDEZ(R)||8-2||W||100||6.5 un||O||11||6||1||4||5||1|
|9/28/2013||PARKER(R)||@ SEATTLE||MAURER(R)||5-7||L||-145||7.5 ov||O||10||10||0||7||1||0|
|9/29/2013||GRAY(R)||@ SEATTLE||RAMIREZ(L)||9-0||W||-125||7.5 ov||O||10||7||0||5||9||0|
|10/7/2013||PARKER(R)||@ DETROIT||SANCHEZ(R)||6-3||W||135||7 ov||O||10||8||0||7||5||1|
|10/8/2013||STRAILY(R)||@ DETROIT||FISTER(R)||6-8||L||135||7.5 ov||O||12||9||0||9||4||0|
|DETROIT: HITTING: OF AUSTIN JACKSON doesn't make much contact, but manager Jim Leyland likes his speed in the leadoff spot. RYAN RABURN and RAMON SANTIAGO will split second base duties, with Raburn getting the majority of the starts. 3B MIGUEL CABRERA seems to have cleaned up his act. He's an MVP candidate. So is newcomer 1B PRINCE FIELDER who will try to keep slugging in his move to a pitchers' park. His presence was needed after DH VICTOR MARTINEZ was lost for the season with a knee injury. OF DELMON YOUNG is a pending free agent, and he hit well after escaping spacious Target Field. He'll nab the starting LF job but could also DH. OF BRENNAN BOESCH did enough pre-injury to earn an everyday role, but he'll again be in danger of fading over the summer. SS JHONNY PERALTA had a resurgence in 2011, and he's on the right side of 30. C ALEX AVILA might not hit for average, but his power is legit. Leyland favorite BRANDON INGE and DON KELLY will back up the All-Star corner infielders, so neither expect to get much playing time. Streaky OF ANDY DIRKS is a fourth outfielder. C GERALD LAIRD will spell Avila. |
STARTING PITCHING: You can't expect an identical stat line for JUSTIN VERLANDER; his opponent .236 batting average on balls in play suggests there was some luck involved in his MVP season. But he's still the best pitcher in the American League by a wide margin. DOUG FISTER's improved strikeout rate with the Tigers suggests he could sustain success as a quality No. 2 starter. MAX SCHERZER can still be outstanding when he's on, but he was inconsistent again last year. He could figure it out in his late-20s, but time is running out. RICK PORCELLO still has a ways to go. His mid-season success came against some weak lineups. He's still only 23, but he hasn't been able to beat hitters at any level in the pros. The Tigers are still searching for a No. 5 starter. Top prospect JACOB TURNER is only 20, but the Tigers haven't been shy about fast-tracking young arms. He was dominant in the minors, but torched in his first big-league stint. ANDY OLIVER appears to be the front-runner for this role, but DREW SMYLY is also a possibility.
RELIEF PITCHING: JOSE VALVERDE was perfect in 2011, but it was a surprising development considering his sliding K/BB ratio. For Tigers fans, he carries more risk than 49-for-49 would suggest. One of baseball's better set-up men, JOAQUIN BENOIT is an eighth-inning-only guy. He'd take over if Valverde got hurt. OCTAVIO DOTEL is another elite set-up man who will step up as the seventh-inning guy. As good as AL ALBURQUERQUE was in the regular season (one extra-base hit'a double'allowed in 43.1 innings!), he's out until at least the All-Star break after offseason elbow surgery. Lefty DANIEL SCHLERETH has a chance to be the closer of the future, but first he'll need to cut down on the walks.
|OAKLAND: HITTING: 2B JEMILE WEEKS may not be a legitimate .300 hitter, but he's still the best option they have at the leadoff spot. C KURT SUZUKI seemingly hits as many line outs as anyone in baseball. He has a solid bat for a catcher and qualifies as a middle-of-the-order option in Oakland. OF JOSH REDDICK is more of a line-drive hitter than a 25-HR guy, and he doesn't yet have the plate discipline to approach .300. 1B BRANDON ALLEN is an all-or-nothing hitter, but his potential for much-needed power should be enough for him to beat out DARIC BARTON. SS CLIFF PENNINGTON has quietly developed into a serviceable regular. With 3B SCOTT SIZEMORE out for the season with a torn ACL, either ERIC SOGARD or JOSH DONALDSON will win the job at third base. Neither player has reached 80 career at-bats yet. Highly-coveted Cuban OF YOENIS CESPEDES inked a four-year deal with Oakland, and will be expected to produced in the heart of the lineup immediately. OF COLLIN COWGILL is undersized, but has shown impressive power in the minors. The DH spot will fall to Allen when Barton is in the lineup. When he's not, it will be filled by such Quadruple-A types as KILA KA'AIHUE and CHRIS CARTER. |
STARTING PITCHING: BRANDON McCARTHY reclamation project worked out nicely. He's an injury risk, but when healthy he's one of baseball's better middle-of-the-rotation arms. BARTOLO COLON pitched better than expected with the Yankees last year (7.4 K/9, 4.00 ERA), and should perform just as well in his new spacious ballpark. DALLAS BRADEN (shoulder) and BRETT ANDERSON (elbow) are both question marks after major surgeries. Braden's return date has been pushed back to early May, while Anderson will might not take the hill until June. The jewel of the Trevor Cahill trade, hard-throwing righty JARROD PARKER has a chance to make a big impact if his arm is recovered from 2009 Tommy John surgery. The Gio Gonzalez trade landed Oakland TOMMY MILONE and BRAD PEACOCK, both of whom are coming off impressive minor-league seasons. They'll compete for rotation spots this spring. TYSON ROSS could get a few starts, but he's gotten very hittable over the past year. They're in no hurry to start the arbitration clock of top prospect SONNY GRAY, but he should make some late-season starts.
RELIEF PITCHING: With Andrew Bailey gone, righty GRANT BALFOUR (2.47 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) will get the first chance to close games. Though his occasional bouts with command issues make him a risk. If Balfour falters, BRIAN FUENTES will get the next look because of his ninth-inning experience and strong second half of 2011 . . . Long a favorite inside the organization, injury-prone righty JOEY DEVINE has long been considered a future closer and should get some late-innings duties. The highest upside option for a future closer is 25-year-old righty FAUTINO DE LOS SANTOS. He has overpowering stuff but his command comes and goes.
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER AL PREVIEW (DETROIT-OAKLAND) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
(Updates with Leyland quotes. With AP Photos.)
*Tigers-Athletics Preview* ==========================
By JANIE McCAULEY AP Baseball Writer
Detroit (93-69) at Oakland (96-66), 8:07 p.m. EDT
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- It's Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray, the encore.
These decisive Game 5s sure are becoming familiar for Verlander. Not so much for the Oakland rookie.
Just like last October in Oakland, the Tigers have been pushed to a winner-take-all fifth game in their AL division series against the Athletics. And Detroit will have Verlander on the mound again Thursday night after he pitched a four-hit shutout in the 2012 clincher at the Oakland Coliseum.
"Well, you don't pretend. It's not just another game," Verlander said after the Tigers evened the series with an 8-6 win Tuesday at Comerica Park. "The season is on the line. It was on the line for us tonight, too. This whole season, the way we battled and played as a team, comes down to one game, may the best team win. You can't treat it just like another game. It's a little bit different. There is more to it."
The A's will counter with Gray against Verlander a second time after these two put on a pitching show Saturday night at the Coliseum.
"He's a little bit of a bulldog, he's scared of nothing," manager Bob Melvin said, noting Gray's experience on the big stage just last week. "Everything that went on in that game factored into it. ... When he came up, we were into the season and a pennant race already and we threw him right into the fire and right away he pitched very well with a lot of confidence and always has that mound presence."
Melvin said he doesn't know how he might use, if at all, 18-game winner and Game 1 loser Bartolo Colon, who is "willing to do anything." He hasn't been ruled out as a reliever.
"Obviously we had two great options," Melvin said.
Verlander dominated in a thrilling pitcher's duel with Gray, who matched the ace as each threw zeros but had nothing to show for it in a 1-0 A's win.
"I'm not really sure we liked what we saw, it was pretty good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Gray. "At least we've seen him now."
Verlander is riding a 22-inning postseason scoreless streak against the A's, and has 33 strikeouts over the past three playoff matchups with Oakland, 11 in each outing.
Not that the A's are counting.
"He's been beaten before, it can happen again," third baseman Josh Donaldson said.
Verlander acknowledged it would have been great to pitch the playoff opener, while also noting 21-game winner Max Scherzer more than earned the nod. Now, Verlander gets the ball for his most meaningful start this year - to extend the season Thursday night.
"We all have a lot of confidence, we're playing at home, we know what we're up against in Verlander," A's shortstop Jed Lowrie said. "We're all prepared for one, winner-take-all scenario."
With Scherzer pitching in relief Tuesday, Verlander became the automatic Game 5 choice for manager Jim Leyland.
"That's kind of why we pitched him Game 2 so we'd have an option," Leyland said. "We were in a pretty good comfort zone to pitch Verlander if necessary, and it was necessary because we had to win (Tuesday). We're comfortable any time Verlander goes out there."
Both clubs chose to use Wednesday as a full day off without on-field workouts after two long flights in four days.
Who to start was quite a choice for 2012 AL Manager of the Year Melvin, whose team is trying to avoid having the season end at the hands of Detroit for the third time in as many postseasons - last year and also a four-game sweep by the Tigers in the 2006 AL championship series.
The last time the A's won a winner-take-all postseason game was in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series against the New York Mets. Oakland has lost its last five Game 5s in the AL division series since 2000.
The AL West champion A's know what's at stake - and realize full well the challenge of facing Verlander again. Last fall's frustrating finish is still fresh for everybody.
"We feel like this time we have a better chance to turn the tide," Melvin said. "It's awfully tough to go out there each and every time and consistently beat a team in the fashion that he has with us."
Verlander has hardly had the kind of dominant season like he had the past two years, including 2011 when he won both AL MVP and Cy Young Award honors. Yet that hardly affected Leyland's decision-making as he insisted Verlander's 13-12 record was hardly indicative of how well he pitched much of the season aside from a couple of rough stretches.
Oakland rookie Stephen Vogt delivered a walk-off single in Saturday's win once Verlander was out of the game. But he also had a wild 10-pitch at-bat with Verlander in which the left-handed hitting catcher fouled off the first five pitches and seven in all before striking out to end the seventh.
"We can expect pretty much what we saw from him the other night. Hopefully he makes a couple mistakes and we're able to capitalize," Vogt said. "It's a tough loss but we're not done. We still got one more game. We're not done."
Neither are those 48,000-plus fans with their swirling yellow rally towels packing the Coliseum. They are sure to be even more hyped up and fiery Thursday night after watching a disputed home run at Comerica Park in Tuesday's loss. On that play, a pair of fans reached out to grab the ball as right fielder Josh Reddick was leaping for it at the wall. The homer went to replay review and stood as a solo shot for Victor Martinez in the seventh.
"We just do it like we have been doing it all season long, we end up winning a pretty good ballgame and it's over, turn the page," Martinez said. "We go to Oakland now and play another game. We all know it's a tough place to play ... we go to the next day and play a brand new ballgame and see what happens."
|Last Updated: 9/2/2014 6:25:31 PM EST|