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: