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Posts tagged “Justin Verlander

New Year, Same Old Story

Justin Verlander in game 5 vs Oakland in the ALDS in 2012:

9 IP    11 K’s     4 Hits 0 ER  W

Justin Verlander in Game 5 vs Oakland in the ALDS in 2013:

8 IP   11 K’s     2 Hits  0 ER   W

How frustrating is it to see one dude who makes as much money as 1/3rd of the entire Oakland A’s franchise shut them down time and time again? To put more stats into play, Verlander has 30 Consecutive Shutout innings against Oakland in the Postseason. Yet this lad gets lit when he faces Pablo Sandoval. Yes, Verlander is AMAZING, and I admire him, but it is hard to not start hating someone who has literally shut the door for Oakland to advance to the ALCS 2 years in a row single-handedly. This is exactly why I dreaded a Game 5 to happen. The A’s could have shut shop and ended the series in Detroit in game 4. They didnt. And then they come back to o.co for Verlander to do the honors.

Last year, I didnt feel so gutted. Mainly because of the game 4 heroics by Crisp, Donaldson, Reddick and Smith but also because what Oakland did last year was simply shocking. Nobody expected them to win the division and make it to the playoffs when the season started. And therefore it was an amazing story that we as fans relished and enjoyed being part of. But this year, it was different. There were legitimate expectations for this team to perform during the playoffs. And they coundt get the job done. I dont want to take anything away from the team since they push above their weight in big ways every time they make it to the postseason. What they do as a franchise is remarkable with limited resources. But is it frustrating to see the same team with the same pitcher putting up an identical performance again.

I dont blame anybody for that series. Not one single person. Not Billy Beane, not Bob Melvin, nor any of the players. Because we can sit back and cherry-pick supposed mistakes that Melvin made during the games. But guess what, hindsight is 20-20. But I will blame the ownership for not letting this team build to compete with the big guys. Lets look at the 4 teams that have made it to the Championship series. The Dodgers, Tigers, Red Sox and Cardinals are in the top 10 list of baseball team payrolls. The A’s ownership should learn their lesson by now. You cant win shit in the postseason unless you spend some serious money. And no you dont have to go all cash crazy like the Dodgers. But emulating the Cardinals would be a perfect model. The Cardinals have an excellent farm system and they have enough money to keep their developed players in their franchise. The A’s have the former, but not the latter. If Wolff was willing to inject even $30 million more into the A’s payroll, they can sign up somebody like Verlander or keep someone with the team for years to come with those resources. Cabrera, Fielder and Verlander go on to make more salary than the entire A’s franchise combined. Yet, 2 of the 3 of them were key in eliminating the A’s. And therefore, we just have to face reality. Money buys you success during playoff time. No, spending money like idiots does not help at all. If the A’s do what the Phillies and Angels do, then we would be doomed. But spending it wisely to buy 1 SOLID hitter to bat 3rd in the lineup and 1 really good pitcher to lead that starting rotation will do the trick. But for that you need money. And when the ownership is as cheap as it is in Oakland, that wont happen anytime soon.

Coco Crisp, Grant Balfour, Chris Young and Colon will likely be gone this offseason. It would be nice to have Coco around although Micheal Choice seems to be a promising prospect to fill in the CF void. Reddick needs to improve offensively to stay with the team despite that amazing glove and fielding of his. I dont think the team will be much different in 2014 other than a few changes. Addison Russell might be filling in the SS role anytime soon accompanying Jed Lowrie with Donaldson and Moss at the Corners. Vogt looks like someone who is gonna stay at the Major league level as a backstop. Cespedes will be entering his 3rd year of his 4-yr contract. Gray and Parker will spearhead the Starting rotation along with Griffin, Milone and possibly Anderson. And the bullpen looks to be more or less the same. Will the A’s make a push in the postseason come 2014? We shall see in a years time.

Go A’s!

They Might be fighting now, but don’t be surprised if they become teammates next year.

Precap: A’s/Tigers Head to Game 5

First of all, since my colleague Chengez joined this blog, I can actually see what was missing from this blog in the first place: quality. This blog has come back to life and therefore its time for me to step up to the plate. Which is what the A’s have to do in game 5 against Justin Verlander at the o.co coliseum. Hmm where have I heard that before?

Anyways, I think as a passionate A’s fan, its normal to be disgruntled after last nights performance (Game 4 that is). Its not so much that they lost at Comerica park where the Tigers were going to be potent no doubt, but more about the way they lost it. The  A’s got around Fister really quickly and Coco scored the first run of the game after hitting a triple in the 1st inning. They kept on getting men on base for the entire game but rarely capitalized (surprise, surprise). Straily did not even give up a hit through the first 4 innings and the only guy who got on base was Prince Fielder thanks to his “large surface area around the plate”. Then Lowrie hit a 2 run homer to make the A’s get a 3-0 lead. After that, everything turned for the worse. Straily gives up a 3 run jack to Peralta who just came back recently from a 50-game PED suspension. But that was not what ticked me off. The A’s were down 5-4 in the the top of the 8th inning. Moss and Cespedes get on second and third base with NO OUTS! NO OUTS! And then Scherzer goes on to intentionally walk Seth Smith. Lets get that in our head once again. The A’s, 1 run down, had the bases LOADED with ZERO OUTS! ZERO! And what do they do? Reddick and Vogt promptly strike out swinging and Callaspo coundt even have the chance to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly with 2 outs. The inning ends with no damage done. That entire inning just epitomized the problem with the Oakland A’s through the series. They get men on base. They threaten to score. But they never score unless its a Home Run. Its just a hit or miss. And its hard to hit Home Runs when you face Verlander and Scherzer. Its all great if you can get men on base but if you cant capitalize, you cant do shit.

To put that in perspective, lets look at game 1. Ok, well maybe not cause the only guy who was able to get on base was Crisp with 3 walks and Cespedes with a triple and a 2 run Monster blast. Scherzer just stifled the A’s. Lets look at game 2 then. There was 5 consecutive innings where the leadoff hitter for Oakland got on base. Out of those 5 innings, in 4 of them, the leadoff man got in scoring position with 0 outs. So obviously they got around Verlander then right? Nope. Verladner did not give up a single run. Not 1. Through 7 innings. Yes, Verlander is am AMAZING pitcher and I do not want to take away any credit from him because he pitched a HELL of a game. But the only reason the A’s actually had any hope of winning was thanks to Sonny Gray. If Griffin/Milone/Parker/Colon or Straily had pitched instead, I dont think the A’s wouldve had a chance to salvage a game at home. No chance. Sonny Gray was sublime and thanks to him, the game was 0-0 in the 9th inning. Then the bases were loaded with no outs, and thankfully, Vogt came through with a hit to win it for Oakland. But that game gave a preview to Oakland woes when it comes to driving in runs with men on base. In Game 3, the runs came in courtesy of Home Runs. (Reddick, Moss, Smith). And thats my point. The A’s can drive in runs if they can hit bombs. But if that cant hit the long ball, regardless of how many people are on base, they have a really hard time driving in runs. And when you face the likes of Verlander and Scherzer, the Home Run Ball is an afterthought if not impossible to even imagine.

And now, The A’s will have to face Verlander again in a game 5 in Oakland. The positives? A massive crowd that will fuel the A’s no doubt and sewage problems that will piss of the Tigers players to no end. The negatives? Well, Verlander is Verlander especially in games like these. Last year, in a same exact scenario with a game 5 in his hand, he made the A’s look like a AAA team. And the A’s haven’t changed that much either. Also, the A’s have historically been pretty bad in Game 5’s. They haven’t won a single Game 5 in a division series under the Billy Beane era. So yes, thats daunting. But there is hope. If game 2 is any indication, it does prove that the A’s can hit around Verlander unlike the year before. So if they can actually capitalize when they get men on base, then there need be no fear. Secondly, Melvin isn’t sure whether to start Colon or Gray. I would love to see a Verlander vs Gray round II. And I hope Melvin agrees with me. Yeah, maybe the Tigers have figured our Gray a bit more, but I am going to go purely on the game 2 performance and take a high risk high reward gamble. Lets just hope that it is one that will pay off and punch a ticket to Boston for the ALCS come Saturday.

Lets hope Verlander’s reaction goes from this:

To This:


Playoff Difference Makers: Rookie Pitchers

Fans who don’t follow the game of baseball frequently ask “Why are so many new players in the lineup at the end of the season?” That’s the beauty of roster expansion. Veterans who have endured the grueling schedule for so long can get days off and clubs get a chance to see what some of their youngsters can do on the big league stage. For losing teams, these young players are auditioning for jobs on the opening day roster for the succeeding season. Someone may perform well enough to compete for a starting spot at their position next spring training. Someone else may perform so badly, management decides that player is a weak link and is expandable, and just like that, he’s traded off for a different prospect. Now after learning this, that same curious fan might say “So how does roster expansion benefit teams that are actually winning?” Well, it can help them a lot more than you’d think, depending on what kind of pitching a team has in their farm system. To put it bluntly, rookie pitchers can kick major ass in the playoffs. We just saw Sonny Gray throw 8 dominating innings of shutout baseball, striking out 9 and giving up a mere 4 hits. Oh by the way, his start occurred during the divisional series and prevented the A’s from falling down 2-0 in a best of 5 series against the Tigers, with the next game being in Detroit. 

It’s becoming more and more common for rookies to have a huge impact in playoff games. In 2010, Madison Bumgarner, a late September call-up, pitched gem after gem throughout the postseason to help the Giants win their first World Series in more than half a decade. In 2008, future Cy Young award winner David Price (another player who came up during roster expansion) would pitch in the Rays’ bullpen throughout the postseason and his electric arm boosted Tampa in their own quest to win a World Series (they would reach the fall classic and eventually fall to the Phillies). And it’s not just the September call-ups who have been making their mark. Gerrit Cole was called up back in June and also had a tremendous postseason debut, limiting the powerful Cardinals offense to a single run over six innings and making sure the Pirates got the split on the road that they needed before the series headed to Pittsburgh. Professional hitters who read this blog might be wondering why I’m giving starting pitchers all the credit. Well first of all, no one reads this blog, so those hitters don’t exist. Second of all, impact rookie hitters in the postseason barely exist either. Pitchers have a distinct advantage when facing a team for the first time. They can get away with things because they have such good stuff and they usually have veteran signal callers who tell them where to locate their pitches and what to pitch to who in a given situation. 

Hitters just have a harder time making adjustments in their first year, and once teams find their weakness, they’ll keep exploiting it until the player can fix the problem. Excellent players like Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward, and Troy Tulowitzki all struggled during their first taste of postseason play. So what should we expect as we continue forward in the 2013 playoffs? Expect the pitchers that make it to the next round to continue being weapons. Expect future stars like Yasiel Puig and Wil Myers to struggle, but don’t be shocked if they hit an absolute bomb in a key situation if they get the right pitch. Hopefully this prediction goes down better than my last prediction. One game playoffs are hard to anticipate! Until next time, I leave you with Justin Verlander being Justin Verlander:


2013 MLB Playoffs: Things to Look Forward to

I get way too excited when it is playoff time in baseball. The sport really captures the element of how postseason games should be like. The little margin for error, the intensity of the crowd, the unlikely heroes that rise during that time, David Freese Game Fucking 6 in 2011, Ranteria in 20.. no fuck that that gave me nightmares. How the fuck was Cliff Lee owned by Ranteria? Anyways, playoff baseball is awesome. And my Oakland A’s are in it for a second year straight. And face those goddamn tigers yet again. But the postseason is FUN regardless. Here are some things im looking forward to (and hoping it happens) in this years postseason:

  1. Verlander losing Game 1: Yes this is extremely biased. But man he singlehandely owned the A’s in Game 5 last year in the ALDS. Verlander hasn’t been as good as he was last year, buy hes still Justin Verlander. Now with the 1st game at o.co, and with the A’s having some regular season success against him, if the A’s beat Verlander, it will be a huge boost in the series.
  2. Yasiel Puigs Shenanigans: If he goes on a tear during the postseason, we will not hear the end of his amazing ability for a loooonng time. Then people will start talking about how hes just as good if not better than Mike Trout, Machado and Harper just to piss me off. If hes “clutch”, im gonna have to turn off ESPN and MLB Network for the next 20 years. Im sick of Puig-mania
  3. The Pittsburgh Pirates: I just love whats going on at PNC park. When your teams rotation consists of Gerrit Cole, AJ Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke, you know something special is brewing when you win more than 90 games with those guys. Cole is a stud but How the fuck is Liriano doing so well? But that team is going to be fun to watch.
  4. McCutchen in the Postseason: It could only be for 1 game if they lose the wild card game, but its about time McCutchen got a taste of Postseason baseball for the stud he is. He stayed with the team despite knowing he could land a FAT contract somewhere else. Its gonna be fun to watch.
  5. Kershaw-Grienke 1-2 Punch: I dont think I need to describe much here
  6. Bartolo Colon vs Prince Fielder
  7. “Momentum”: We will hear this word to no end. A team wins game 1, holy shit they have momentum now. They lose game 2, oh well now the other team has momentum now. There is no such thing as “momentum”. Its just one team playing better than the other on that day/night.
  8. Joe Buck: No FUCK THAT
  9. Belittling the A’s: They can go on to beat the Tigers 19-0 in game 5 and yet the story would be how bad the Tigers were rather than how good Oakland is. Yeah they’re just a fluky team with shit reject players. Whatevs
  10. Chris Johnson cussing out a Dodgers pitcher: He will pick beef with one of em for sure. If its Grienke, lets just hope he doesn’t break another collarbone.
  11. The Yankees: Oh wait, they’re not there. Praise the lord.
  12. Erin Andrews

Heres to another epic year of great postseason baseball. Lets just hope its not as boring as the world series last year.