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Coco is someone I had complained about when this deal was initially signed but he silenced those complaints this past season putting up a 3.9 WAR year (his best season since 2007) backed by a .261/.335/.444 slash line with a career high 22 home runs and career high (for a full season) 10.4% BB%. He also had a career high 117 wRC+ to go with a solid .339 wOBA. He did all this despite a low .258 BABIP which is odd given that his speed (which resulted in 21 steals in 26 attempts) should help him manage a better mark in that regard. With just a $7.5M option for 2014, if he can put up numbers anywhere near what he has put up in Oakland where an average season looks like a .264/.327/.417 slash line with 12 home runs and 35 steals and 2.9 WAR he will be well worth it as his value (roughly $14.5M) has been nearly twice that amount. No brainer. Now there is discussion of him possibly being considered for an extension and there I might balk given his age (34) and what should be declining range in the outfield and diminishing speed. But yes, no brainer on Crisp for 2014 at $7.5.
Anderson isn’t quite a no-brainer but at $8M (and given that it also provides the A’s access to a $12M option for 2015) it is a fairly conservative call. Rumors state that Toronto might be interested in Anderson along with other clubs, so keeping him at the very least gives the A’s options. Anderson’s value has dropped every year going from being worth $16.3M in 2009 to $9.7M, to $4.6M, to $4.1M to last year’s $1.4M. Obviously Oakland doesn’t want to pay $8M for $1.4M of production, but the hope is Anderson stays on the field. That is frankly the biggest question, can he stay healthy? The record shows the answer should be a very clear: no. Only one season with more than twenty starts (2009, his rookie campaign). Last year he was not good at all throwing 44 2/3 innings of 6.04 ERA baseball though FIP (3.85) likes him more based on his 9.3 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9. Can’t complain with the move.
Suzuki was never going to be picked up. Selected merely so the A’s would have more options down the stretch with John Jaso and Derek Norris injured there is no place for him on the 2014 roster and furthermore there shouldn’t be if the A’s were to pay him the $8.5M required by picking up the option. Instead, Zuk who put up a .303/.343/.545 slash line in just 35 plate appearances for the A’s in their stretch run since coming over from Washington (he had a total .232/.290/.337 between both clubs in his 316 plate appearances) will get a $650K buyout.
At the beginning of 2013 it appeared Young’s option would certainly be picked up but he had a miserable season in Oakland hitting an anemic .200/.280/.379 slash line with 12 home runs, a .289 wOBA and 82 wRC+ in 375 plate appearances. His 0.5 WAR was far off his pace from 2010-2012 with Arizona and made this an easy decision to cut him loose.
The Oakland A’s are far from media darlings. Hell, even me, a fan of the team, doesn’t pick them to win the division figuring that 2012 was a fluke. Yet here they are back-to-back division champs. No one really talks about the A’s. Our “stars” (are there any really?) are unknown to others. How many back-to-back division champions see only three combined All Star appearances featuring Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour (a last minute sub!) and Ryan Cook? Not too many. But one enduring myth about the A’s persists and I see it everywhere and that is the myth of Oakland being able to generate young pitching talent as if it is an effortless endeavor. The origins of this myth likely are from the early 2000s when the A’s put together Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, followed up with the likes of Joe Blanton, Rich Harden and Dan Haren, who in turn were followed by the likes of Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez and now onto Sonny Gray, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily. This never ending fountain of young pitching. Today that myth persisted in this piece by Drew Silva of HardballTalk. Writing about the somewhat old (three days or so is old in internet land) news that the Toronto Blue Jays have interest in Anderson he wrote,
“Oakland is stocked with good, young starting pitching. Which makesBrett Anderson — who finished the year in the bullpen — a potential trade candidate this winter. Anderson carries an $8 million club option for 2014″
To be fair, I feel there are many reasons to trade Anderson. Despite being heralded an ace and named this year’s Opening Day starter, Anderson really hasn’t shown his stuff at the MLB level that has people in Oakland singing his praises. His career has spanned five seasons during which he has made just 73 starts and pitched just 450 2/3 innings. During that time he has put up a respectable but hardly ace-like 3.81 ERA with a slightly better 3.56 FIP. He has an alright 7.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9. The biggest problem of course is that he has pitched just 450 2/3 innings in these five seasons for an average of 90 1/3 a season. That is because he is brittle, finding himself on the disabled list time after time. In fact one must go back to his first season (2009) to find a season in which he made 30 starts. His next best total came from 2010 (19) and next best after that 2011 (13) and well you get the drift as he sunk to six starts in 2012 and just five this past season. Since his debut season of 2009, 138 other pitchers have thrown more innings than Anderson. Not a sparkling statistic and nothing he has done has proven him to be an ace. This past season was his worst as a pro as he pitched just 44 2/3 innings across 16 appearances and just five starts sporting an awful 6.04 ERA (though FIP liked him much more at 3.85 the victim of an irregularly high .359 BABIP and absymal 61.5% strand rate) with 9.3 K/9 and a career worst 4.2 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9. Is this a guy to pay $8M for next year? Might not be the wisest of investments.
That said, the premise of the post was that the A’s can do it because of their deep pitching staff, not necessarily because the pieces that Anderson could net may be worth more than the uncertainty that is Anderson. This myth is just so deep. Let’s look at the A’s starting pitching depth for just one second. First, Colon is not assured to re-sign so as it stands the A’s have Parker, Griffin, Straily, Gray and Tommy Milone. Who is next? Andrew Werner who is not what I’d call stocked with “good, young starting pitching” as he had a 5.78 ERA and nearly as ugly 4.28 FIP in 165 innings with the River Cats, furthermore he will be 27 next year? Arnold Leon and his underwhelming strikeout totals in AA and AAA who just turned 25? On the 40-man roster you have Michael Ynoa who has 21 innings to his name at High-A Stockton and with a 7.71 ERA and 7.3 BB/9 there to boot! The idea that the A’s have a lot of pitching depth is pure crap. Yet it persists. Foul ground and a never ending turnstile with good live arms, that is what Oakland is apparently known for. Just wish the latter were true.
I love Grant Balfour. This year, I bought a shirsey of his – a level of commitment that is reserved for so few players in my world. He is everything you want in a closer, boisterous, exciting and clearly most importantly effective. When a guy is good at what he does, normally you want to lock them in, re-up them. But with closers that simply isn’t the case. Relievers are replaceable. Quite easily so.
How do you judge who is a good closer? Let’s go the most simplistic route: saves a category in which Balfour ($4.5M) finished tied for eighth in MLB with 38. Ahead of him were: Craig Kimbrel ($655K), Jim Johnson ($6.5M), Greg Holland ($539.5K), Mariano Rivera ($10M), Joe Nathan ($7M), Rafael Soriano ($14M), Addison Reed ($520K) and he was tied with Aroldis Chapman ($2M). The key thing here is those bracketed numbers – the amount these players each earned in 2013. The numbers are just so dramatically divergent with closers. Even if you took out the pre-arbitration elibgle guys here, you have Soriano being paid tied as much as Nathan who in turn is being paid about one and a half times what Balfour is being paid. There is a lot of variance. But maybe saves is a poor measure of quality?
Let’s try something like wins above replacement. I have filtered out everyone with at least ten saves (and arbitrary number but these are guys who were closers for at least a decent chunk of 2013). Balfour falls to 25th on this list (out of a total of 35) with his 0.6 WAR. Yet he is ahead of the aforementioned $14M man Rafael Soriano (0.5). WAR isn’t always the greatest at measuring closers, so let’s go with a method I prefer which is the shutdown to meltdown ratio. This means how many times did a closer affect his team’s chance of winning by 6% or more (shutdown) or 6% or less (meltdown). Important stuff. Relievers are there to close out games, ensure victory. If they come in with a team having an 80% chance of victory and shut it down? Shutdown. Likewise if they blow that same 80% chance of winning? Meltdown. Simple stuff. Pretty fair. Here Balfour fares very well, fifth in baseball with a 6.6 ratio behind only, Holland (at an incredible 10.25), Nathan (9.75), Kimbrel (7.8) and Benoit ($5.5M) (7.3). These are in my mind the best at what they do and I think few would take issue with any of these guys being considered among the top five closers in baseball. But again look at that disparity on pay. While that will exist many times, here again we see it at work. Let’s do this list yet another way, by pay.
Here are the nine highest paid relievers in baseball: Soriano ($14M), Jonathan Papelbon ($13M), Rivera ($10M), Carlos Marmol ($9.8M), Heath Bell ($9M), Chris Perez ($7.3M), Nathan ($7M) and Frank Francisco ($6.5M) and Johnson. Would anyone agree that that list is the nine best closers in baseball? There is a reason for this, closers from year to year are wholly inconsistent. Let’s replicate the three measurements of quality for 2012.
So we start with the inexact but simple example of saves. The first perfect example is that Balfour wasn’t even the closer all year. It was a role shared with Brian Fuentes and Ryan Cook, so in terms of total saves he finished a distant 22nd (further proving my point right off the bat). The top ten on that list were: Johnson ($2.625M), Fernando Rodney ($1.75M), Kimbrel ($590K), Jason Motte ($1.95M), Soriano ($11M), Perez ($4.5), Chapman ($2M), Papelbon ($11M), Nathan ($7M) and Joel Hanrahan ($4.1M). First of all the discrepancy pay wise remains, secondly look at the turnover. There are wholesale different names on this list. In fact of the guys on this list, several Motte, Perez and Hanrahan, weren’t even closers in 2013. Let’s look at WAR, why may provide some insight.
Balfour does well on the WAR count in 2012 at 1.5 as he was tied for eighth among those pitchers who had at least ten saves. The list ahead of him includes some familiar names and some first time mentions in this piece with: Kimbrel leading the way followed by, Chapman, Rodney, Holland, Kenley Jansen, Nathan and J.J. Putz. In the shutdown to meltdown ratio category, which again I see as most important, Balfour again performs well finishing ninth among the 34 qualifying pitchers with a 4.6 mark, behind Rodney (17.0), Johnson (15.3), Kimbrel (9.3), Chapman (6.8), Sergio Romo ($1.575M) (5.6), Hanrahan (5.2), Soriano (5.1) and Perez (4.9). These guys represent the best but again their pay doesn’t match that assessment at all.
The point is simple. The best closers vary from year to year. There might be some who are consistently among the best, and Balfour very well may be one of them. But you can get that same production from other people both on the free-agent market who aren’t currently closers, or from converting someone else (and the A’s have several candidates including Cook who served admirably in the role) to become your closer. As far as value, there is so little as everyone knows in paying big on the guy who will shutdown your ballgame. Of the nine highest paid closers in baseball this year, one is playing postseason baseball (Marmol), and he isn’t even his team’s closer. That says something doesn’t it?
A’s and Tigers look to end the series and send the other home while they themselves would advance to Boston to take on the Red Sox. Here is hoping that it is the A’s who win and the Tigers who get sent home as the past few times it has not been so. The last time the A’s advancing against the Tigers being way back in 1972 when the Billy Martin led Tigers fell to the A’s in the fifth and deciding game of that American League Championship Series. Sadly, that is also one of the last times the A’s won a deciding final game as every other time they’ve been in a final game of a series since they’ve been on the losing end since the 1973 World Series against the New York Mets. Time to change that history. On the TBS pregame show Dirk Hayhurst picks the A’s, everyone else picks the Tigers. Go Garfoose and Go A’s!
5:09PM PDT – Top of 1st, 0 out – Can’t say I agree with any of the discussion that this was a clear cut choice or you have to go with “impact pitchers” and so on in a game like this. I think Sonny Gray has the potential to be that, I think you can make an argument he is that now. But lest we forget that Bartolo Colon did not pitch poorly at all this year. He was the A’s stopper. He was the A’s ace. Sabremetrically or traditionally he was a great pitcher this year. It is fair to go with Gray and understandable, but it certainly isn’t the obvious choice or the only choice.
5:10PM PDT – Top of 1st, 1 out – Strike three. He gets Austin Jackson looking. Good start. Need to see more of that.
5:12PM PDT – Top of 1st, 2 out – Torii Hunter hits it well but right at Alberto Callaspo. Watch, with Callaspo in at second for offensive purposes, just like Jhonny Peralta in left field for the same reason, you’ll see all these plays head his way. That’s like a law of baseball nature.
5:15PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 0 out – And out comes Justin Verlander. Verlander against the A’s in the postseason: 23 innings, 0.39 ERA on one earned run, eleven hits, six walks and 33 strikeouts. Up first is Coco Crisp who had a leadoff homer in Game One of last year’s ALDS accounting for the only run.
5:17PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 1 out – Not the prettiest catch there for Don Kelly in left field but it is a catch. Funny that it was Peralta and Kelly converging with Jim Leyland opting clearly for offense over defense.
5:19PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 2 out – And Josh Donaldson goes down swinging. Weak series for Donaldson who doesn’t look great. That at bat makes him 3-for-18 (.167/,211/.167) with six strikeouts. Part of the A’s problem is Donaldson and Lowrie being at the top of the order and doing next to nothing between the two of them.
5;21PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 3 out – Lowrie follows suit and strikes out too. 2-for-17 (.118/.211/.294) with two walks and seven K’s for Lowrie.
5:26PM PDT – Top of 1st, 0 out – Four pitch walk to Prince Fielder. Inauspicious beginning to the second inning here.
5:29PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 1 out – Well hit ball for Victor Martinez but a nice play by Coco to go and run it down. Tough sun with this bizarre 5pm start time.
5:31PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 1 out – Three inches saves the A’s on the foul ball from Peralta. Whoo. I hate to say it, but I agree with Buck Martinez, Gray doesn’t have the snap that he had in Game Two. The body language sort of shows it too. Between pitches he is raising his cap up, which seems a bit like he is frustrated.
5:33PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 3 out – Peralta K’s and Prince is caught off the bag with the 3-2 count he was “running”. Short rundown and he is out inning over. This could be big just as that strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out was in Game Two.
5:39PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 1 out – Yoenis Cespedes with a sharp line out to right center field. It seemed like Hunter was really sort of close to Jackson there. Not sure if he started off there or quickly got to where he was and it was a camera angle thing, but it seemed like he was leaving a lot of room down the right field line (which would make sense) but why would Jackson be so far to the right? Maybe it is just a camera thing though.
5:42PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 2 out – Sonny looks a little shaky. Verlander does not. Third strikeout as he gets Seth Smith down looking.
5:44PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 3 out – And another K. Four total as Verlander gets Brandon Moss swinging. Moss was trying to put every pitch in the seats.
5:47PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 1 out – One quick out for Gray. First pitch swinging and Alex Avila grounds out to Moss. He needs a quick solid 1-2-3 to get some forward momentum. I agree with the broadcast crew in that regard and also with the fact that that strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out might have reinvigorated him as it did in Game Two.
5:49PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 2 out – Omar Infante grounds out to shortstop. Two down.
5:51PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 3 out – Kelly flies out to Cespedes who barely has to move. Gray faces the minimum through three. Martinez is such a moron “they [the A's] haven’t had an impact starter like Sonny Gray for a while”. Because the teams that failed to get to the playoffs before lacked an impact starter? Barry Zito? Mark Mulder? Tim Hudson? Dan Haren? Rich Harden? No impact starters there.
5:56PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 1 out – Callaspo is in for offense and he flies out to center field after five pitches.
5:57PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 2 out – Martinez at first was correctly saying that Gray wasn’t as sharp as he was last time out, then he talks to Leyland and says that he is just as good. Thankfully Leyland corrects him saying he is looking good but not as on point as he was in Game Two. I can’t stand Martinez. I also can’t stand watching the A’s play against Verlander who just tears through these A’s. Josh Reddick is the latest victim grounding out to Infante.
6:00PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 3 out – Perfect through three for Verlander who K’s Stephen Vogt for his fifth K of the ballgame. 51 of 160 A’s have struck out in this series (31.9%). That is crazy.
6:04PM PDT – Top of 4th, 1 out – Jackson flies out to Reddick in right. Jackson has been terrible but Tuesday had a hit when it matters which I suppose is some solace for him.
6:07PM PDT – Top of 4th, 1 out – First hit in the game for either side comes as Hunter hits it straight back up the middle. Not the part of the lineup you want to allow your first hit in front of.
6:08PM PDT – Top of 4th, 1 out – Wow. That was so obviously gone from the moment he hit it. I was actually surprised when the camera started tracking it and it wasn’t as deep as I thought it was. It sounded gone. That was murdered. Gray’s shutout inning streak is over at eleven and a third. Why did he try throwing inside? You never want to go anywhere near where Cabrera can get to it, and you certainly don’t challenge him in his wheelhouse. Tigers up 2-0.
6:11PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out – 3-1 on the putout as Fielder is set down. Nice play by Gray to get over. Solid defense there.
6:12PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out – Opposite field hit for Martinez on the curveball. That curveball did look pretty fat, so Buck is right, but he keeps going back and forth. A 1-2-3 inning from Gray and Buck will be back to how amazing he is.
6:13PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out - TBS shows a shot of Dave Dombrowski who is wearing a green tie! Really? Of all the colors green? That is pretty funny.
6:14PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out – Peralta with a solid base hit to left field. Curveball isn’t working. Tigers are sitting fastball. This is not good. Bob Melvin needs to get someone up in the pen. Why isn’t Curt Young running out there and stalling things some? Brett Anderson should be able to go a few innings right? Same with Jesse Chavez.
6:17PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out – Gray loses the handle on Avila and walks the bases full. Finally Young comes out. In the bullpen Dan Otero starts to warm down the left field line. 28 pitches so far in the fourth inning 69 overall (just 38 strikes). Yikes.
6:20PM PDT – Top of 4th, 3 out – Infante grounds out. Big out. Massive failure averted there. But let’s remember. The A’s have yet to get a baserunner on Verlander. They haven’t scored on him in the playoffs in over a year. They need to figure him out and figure him out fast.
6:25PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 1 out – Ten up, ten down as Coco grounds out to Peralta.
6:27PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 2 out – Donaldson lunges for one out of the zone and gives Verlander another easy out on a fly out to Jackson in center.
6:29PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 3 out – Lowrie grounds out to Infante. These guys don’t even have to move really. The A’s are just hitting them all right at guys. A .000 BABIP shouldn’t be sustainable, but with Verlander he’s had at least two games like that.
6:33PM PDT – Top of 5th, 0 out – Leadoff walks are not a recipe for success. Especially when they are to guys like Kelly (.222/.309/.343 with a 79 wRC+).
6:36PM PDT – Top of 5th, 1 out – Jackson gets K’d yet again. He is having a miserable series. He is one guy in this lineup that I haven’t had any concern about, though of course he had the back breaking hit in the last game.
6:38PM PDT – Top of 5th, 2 out – Gray looking really inconsistent as I liked his sequence against Hunter and he looked like a new rejuvenated pitcher there. Ground out gets Kelly into scoring position with Cabrera due up.
6:40PM PDT – Top of 5th, 2 out – Gray gets down 2-0 and he and Vogt (or probably the A’s dugout) decide to just put him on. Doesn’t get easier with Prince due up now with two on.
6:42PM PDT – Top of 5th, 3 out – Stressful inning, but nothing comes of it for Detroit. Fielder hits it back to the pitcher. Gray knocks it down and does the underhand toss to Moss and the inning is over.
6:46PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 1 out – Infield pop out for Cespedes to Peralta. Thirteen straight A’s set down.
6:50 PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 2 out – Positioned perfectly Peralta gets the grounder that probably could have been the A’s first hit off the bat of Smith. Fourteen straight A’s set down.
6:52PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 3 out – Fifteen straight A’s set down as Moss gets K’d for the second time tonight. Verlander through five: no runs, no hits, no walks, six K’s on just 66 pitches 45 of them strikes. His ERA is of course 0.00, but his FIP a sparkling 0.65. Stark contrast to the crooked numbers Gray has through five: two earned runs on four hits including the Cabrera home run, four walks and three strikeouts for a 3.60 ERA and 6.85 FIP on 92 pitches, just 50 for strikes.
6:56PM PDT – Top of 6th, 0 out – Another lead off baserunner as Martinez hits it pretty much straight back up the middle for his second hit tonight.
6:57PM PDT – Top of 6th, 0 out – Back-to-back base hits for the Tigers as Peralta hits a single that plunks in front of Cespedes in left field. That will end the night for Gray as Melvin heads to the hill. Final line on Gray: 5+ innings, two earned runs on six hits including a HR, four walks and three strikeouts on 98 pitches, 53 for strikes. In to the game will be Otero. Otero has been great this postseason as Melvin’s in many ways go-to- guy with three appearances during which he has thrown three and two-thirds innings allowing two hits, walking no one and striking out two. The two runners are the responsibility of Gray, but the man entrusted with them Otero has not always been the best about keeping those runs off the board as 37% of his inherited runners this season have scored.
7:00PM PDT – Top of 6th, 1 out – Big play. Not a 3-6-3 but a 3-6 out to get Avila. Men on the corners with an out.
7:02PM PDT – Top of 6th, 2 out – Infante just hit into a 5-4-3 double play. But Callaspo bobbles a bad throw from Donaldson and Melvin’s decision to go for offense over defense has thus far not panned out. VMart scores from third. Tigers lead 3-0, a lead that seems insurmountable against Verlander right now.
7:04PM PDT – Top of 6th, 2 out – Otero walks Kelly (still not the guy, you want to walk). Martinez still saying that there was no question Gray was the one to start in this game as the camera pans to Colon. Martinez is still wrong and thus far has been proven so.
7:07PM PDT – Top of 6th, 3 out – Jackson grounds out to Callaspo to end the inning. A’s have their work cut out for them.
7:11PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 1 out – Callaspo grounds out to first base. Sixteen straight A’s set down.
7:13PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 1 out – A baserunner! A baserunner! The A’s have a baserunner! Who would have thought of all the guys to draw a walk and break the trance that hitters had been lulled into that it’d be Reddick. Reddick had an awful year but he did draw walks 10.4% of the time. Verlander didn’t miss a K by much as Reddick drew it full before ending Verlander’s perfection.
7:15PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 2 out – Vogt takes Verlander to the warning track. Reddick advances on the fly out and the A’s now have their first runner in scoring position all night.
7:17PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 3 out – Coco flies out to left field to end the inning. Verlander still has the no-no in tact. A’s running out of time. Nine outs away from golfing.
7:21PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 1 out – Hunter grounds it out to Donaldson and one is away.
7:22PM PDT – Top of 7th, 2 out – Pop out to second base and again Cabrera is neutralized.
7:23PM PDT – Top of 7th, 2 out – That was a solid hit laced to right field for Prince falling just in front of Reddick. Sean Doolittle is warming up in the A’s pen looking to redeem himself from his outing on Tuesday.
7:24PM PDT – Top of 7th, 2 out – Martinez with an opposite field base hit. Third hit of the night. It seems like he got fired up from his altercation with Grant Balfour. He has been a different hitter since then.
7:27PM PDT – Top of 7th, 3 out – Stretch time. Peralta grounds to Donaldson who steps on third to end the inning.
7:34PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 1 out – Donaldson looks terrible. He is just swinging at everything. Strike out number seven for Verlander.
7:37PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 2 out – It seems like this is the best we are going to get this game. Lowrie has a good at bat. Well as good an at bat as you can have where you don’t draw a single ball, and furthermore where you check swing/foul off a ball that bounced up there. Long fly ball to the warning track in left but Kelly had no problem settling under it.
7:39PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 2 out – No hitter no more! Cespedes gets a hit back up through the middle. As per the broadcast crew that is a ten game hitting streak in the postseason for Cespedes. Impressive stuff.
7:41PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 3 out – I love this the elite pitchers are always around 15 pitches per inning crap from Martinez, I mean it makes sense, but really? For what it is worth Colon this year had 14.59 pitches per inning, and Jarrod Parker who one day could be elite but isn’t today had 15.20, and Gray had 15.55. Meanwhile Smith gets K’d to end the inning for his eighth K. A’s down to their final six outs.
7:44PM PDT – Top of 8th, 0 out – Doolittle is out for the A’s. Doolittle has made three appearances in this ALDS for three and a third innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits including a home run, with two walks and five K’s for a 5.40 ERA and roughly a 5.90 FIP. Small sample size galore and all that mess comes from Tuesday’s game in Detroit.
7:47PM PDT – Top of 8th, 1 out – Cespedes backpedals to the warning track but Avila’s hit is completely benign and settles into his glove for the first out.
7:48PM PDT – Top of 8th, 2 out – Infante hits it to shallow center field but Coco runs in to get it. Two down.
7:50PM PDT – Top of 8th, 3 out – Kelly K’s. 1-2-3 inning for Doolittle. A’s have six outs to work with. The A’s bring up Moss, Callaspo and Reddick.
7:55PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 1 out – Moss can’t get the benefit of the doubt against Verlander tonight. No way he would. That pitch was ball four, but was called a strike and you can’t be surprised. Verlander fights back and gives Moss the hat trick with his ninth K of the night. Drew Smyly is up and throwing in the Detroit bullpen.
7:56PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – Verlander makes short work of Callaspo who grounds out to Prince.
7:57PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – Reddick is the offensive star of the game! Gets on twice! Base hit up the middle on the changeup. He is aboard with two outs. Wonder if Vogt hits or if they go with a substitute. The A’ s are carrying three catchers and have not made much use of them.
8:00PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 3 out – Melvin sticks with Vogt. Vogt strikes out. Tenth of the night from Verlander.
8:02PM PDT – Top of 9th, 0 out – Verlander’s night is done. Why? He is clearly the best option for the ninth, this has to be inspiring to A’s hitters who have felt he was unhittable (largely because he was). The book closed on Verlander: eight innings, two hits, one walk and ten strikeouts on 111 pitches with 76 crossing the plate as strikes. Joaquin Benoit will throw for the Tigers in the ninth it seems regardless of whether or not the Tigers pad their lead. The A’s meanwhile will go with Balfour to hold down the Tigers and keep the A’s in the ballgame to face the top of the order. Balfour has been in two games this ALDS throwing two innings, allowing no hits with a walk and a strikeout. Balfour picked up the win in Game Two and the save in Game Three.
8:06PM PDT – Top of 9th, 1 out – Jackson strikes out swinging (again). I bet he will be happy for the new set of stats that come with playing in the ALCS. An opportunity to hit the reset button so to speak.
8:08PM PDT – Top of 9th, 2 out – Hunter flies out to Coco. Two down.
8:11PM PDT – Top of 9th, 3 out – Last time A’s fans get to see Balfour in an A’s uniform perhaps and he gets a K of Cabrera. If this is it – and I presume it is – a nice way to end his tenure in Oakland.
8:14PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 0 out – Benoit coming in to get the save and close out the game. Ramon Santiago comes in at third base and Jose Iglesias comes in at shortstop to shore down the left side defense for Detroit. Benoit has been a bit shaky, two appearances for two and a third innings of two earned run, on two hit baseball with a walk and five strikeouts. That adds up to a 7.71 ERA but a 0.20 FIP.
8:17PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 1 out – Can’t say I was a big fan of the strikezone in that at bat. Two pitches that were well outside called strikes. Ends up a weak groundout to Infante and the A’s are down to their final two outs.
8:20PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 2 out – Can’t say I really had any confidence in Donaldson there and he delivered on my expectations. He was swinging at everything, and he was swinging recklessly at everything and did so again there. Down to their final out. It all rests on Lowrie’s shoulders to keep this series going.
8:22PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 2 out – A’s season stays alive! Lowrie opposite field into left center above a leaping Iglesias. He runs and gets a double – man it looked like it might get thrown out at second for a minute there.
8:25PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 2 out – Cespedes is hit by the pitch! Tying run comes up to the plate. I said before the game the key to this game was Seth Smith. I didn’t anticipate it would be like this. But the tying run is Smith.
8:29PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 3 out – A’s lose. Smith flies out to Hunter in right field. A’s were just outplayed in this game. Good luck to the Tigers, you don’t want to lose to a team that then rolls into the ALCS and lays and egg. You want to lose to the champs.
It all comes down to this. Put up or shut up for both the Tigers and the A’s. Bob Melvin had the biggest decision going into this one in choosing who his starting pitcher would be and late last night chose Sonny Gray to take the hill to square off in a rematch of Game Two against Justin Verlander. The first two games in Oakland were all about the pitching but the bats of both clubs awakened in Detroit though neither club has particularly impressive offensive numbers right now with the A’s hitting .243/.307/.434 for the series slightly edging out Detroit’s .234/.290/.320 line. The story of Game Two was how Gray kept up with Verlander he and will be tasked with doing it for a second straight night. Can he replicate the eight inning, four hit, two walk, nine strikeout performance he brought? That will determine whether or not the A’s win because Verlander certainly has replicated his seven inning, four hit, one walk, eleven strikeout performance before.
Along with the change in starting pitchers Melvin has one other (long overdue) adjustment to his lineup which top to bottom will be: Coco Crisp CF, Josh Donaldson 3B, Jed Lowrie SS, Yoenis Cespedes LF, Seth Smith DH, Brandon Moss 1B, Alberto Callaspo 2B, Josh Reddick RF, Stephen Vogt C. The big change being that Eric Sogard (0-for-9, BB, K) is being replaced by Callaspo (1-for-3, with a double and K). The other significant move is moving Moss (2-for-15, HR, 3 BBs) down in the order and sliding Cespedes (7-for-18, double, triple, HR and 4 Ks) and Smith (5-for-12, HR, BB and 3 Ks) up. I think this game really hinges on Smith. He has had a good series, he will be hitting ahead of Moss and needs to sort of set the table for him and hitting behind Cespedes who has been adept at getting on will mean he needs to improve upon his 3-for-18 with a HR, 6 BB and 5K record against Verlander. If Smith does well, I feel the A’s can really win this game, he is the one Athletic who needs to change their history against Verlander (for what it is worth he went 1-for-3 against him in Game Two).
Jim Leyland meanwhile goes for more offense as he changes things up a bit: Austin Jackson CF, Torii Hunter RF, Miguel Cabrera 3B, Prince Fielder 1B, Victor Martinez DH, Jhonny Peralta SS, Alex Avila C, Omar Infante 2B, Don Kelly LF. Out is Jose Iglesias whose sparkling defense and blazing speed is not enough to overcome his 1-for-12 with a BB and 2 Ks in the series. Kelly was one of the lone Tigers to figure out Gray in Game Two going 2-for-3 against him further encouraging the relegation of Iglesias to the bench. Can Gray get through this lineup with the same hot butter knife he carved them up with in Game Two? It remains to be seen.
The A’s still have no announced starter for tomorrow’s deciding Game Five with TBD still set to face Justin Verlander and the Tigers. The question is do the A’s go with Bartolo Colon or do they go with Sonny Gray? I love Sonny but this start should go to Colon and the following is why.
1) Colon should start Game One in Boston and the veteran would be better to handle the pressures of such a game so start Sonny. This is the weakest argument of the bunch, simply because who starts Game One of the ALCS is irrelevant if you don’t get to Game One of the ALCS. The A’s have to win this game, looking at pitching matchups for the ALCS is a fool’s errand aside from not using every single one of your starters to the point of tiring them in this game. About the only thing I’d say is regardless of the win or go home, the A’s have to choose Colon or Gray and can’t do both with concerns that Jarrod Parker may be shelved with arm fatigue for the ALCS should the A’s get there.
2) Colon struggled against the Tigers in Game One. Did he now? Yes he lost. Yes he gave up three runs in six innings. Yes he surrendered 10 hits. But overall FIP liked him at 2.21 and Colon had not pitched since September 27th in Seattle a week off so taking an innin g to get into a groove makes sense even if it was an inopportune time to need a brush up. Not counting the first inning he allowed just six hits, not great but hardly the issue he had previously and his FIP was 1.60. He really pitched well and got beat up in one inning, his first in a while. Big deal.
3) Colon was your best starter all year long. If Oakland had an ace it was Colon. Could Gray be that ace going forward? Quite possibly yes, but a large reason the A’s are in the postseason in 2013 lies with the right arm of one Bartolo Colon. Colon was worth 3.9 WAR as he threw 190 1/3 innings of 5.5 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 baseball for a second best in the AL 2.65 ERA and a 3.23 FIP. You want your best on the mound when it matters. Jim Leyland had a win or go home last night and the Tigers used Max Scherzer in relief (with some serious success as he pitched himself out of a jam) he is now using his best available in Game Five. Bob Melvin should do the same.
4) But Gray matched Verlander pitch for pitch in Game Two. Andrew Albers. Henderson Alvarez. Zach Britton. Jeremy Guthrie. Tommy Milone. Jose Quintana. Mike Pelfrey. Danny Salazar. Danny Duffy – twice! These are all starters who kept up with Verlander to the point that their team won the game – Verlander and Detroit also lost to far superior pitchers as well – but the point is in baseball anyone can beat or just keep up with anyone else any given day – lest we forget the winning pitcher wasn’t Gray but rather Grant Balfour in Game Two. It is quite possible that that was Gray’s one shot at Verlander and they drew to a tie. Right now head-to-head you have to go with who gives you the best shot and be conservative. Gray had never faced the Tigers, now he has, the element of surprise is gone. Colon has faced these players far more and they know what to expect and though he hasn’t pitched amazingly against them in his career (5.40 ERA in 156 2/3 innings), he has pitched very well at the Coliseum (2.93 ERA in 224 1/3 innings) and has pitched well in the postseason 3.70 ERA in 58 1/3 innings. Do I like that track record more than Gray’s for one game? Frankly, I do. When we watched Gray pitch in Game Two we all watched him throw 11.1% of his entire MLB inning total.
5) Gray would face the Tigers for a second outing in a row. I feel that Gray’s success was closely tied to the Tigers’ unfamiliarity with him. They’d seen tape but that isn’t the same as seeing the real thing and as a result Detroit struggled. That isn’t true anymore. How did Gray do facing guys a second time? August 15th he faced Houston (8 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K) saw them again on September 5th (8 IP, 2 ER (3 R), 7 H, 1 BB, 7 K). September 11th he faced the Twins (5 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 7 K), September 22nd he sees them again (5 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K). Only against the Mariners was his second outing (September 29th: 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 8 K) better than the first (August 20th: 7 IP, 2 ER, 2BB, 7K) but by that point five weeks had passed. Now within the game Gray seems to improve and really learn from past at bats at the first time through guys hit .289/.341/.398 and that declines to .195/.300/.299 a second time before falling to .172/.169/.224 as third time through but again the A’s can’t afford to get behind early, and teams that have adjusted within a matter of days have thus far at least hit well off of the young Gray.
You just need to go with your best pitcher. The pitcher who if this game was played 1,000 times would win more often than not any else is needlessly rolling the dice. It is win or go home, not win and get another shot. Go with the guy who got you there. That guy is Colon.
We got back to the TBS crew which is a shame as I really enjoyed yesterday’s. Let’s see if they return to the tired narratives they’ve had before. It seems today’s will be Detroit’s stagnant offense and I am sure we will hear about that four billion times from these three. The A’s really need to jump out early Doug Fister in this one. While I don’t want to see Max Scherzer (the thought of Justin Verlander in a Game Five is sort of scarier than the thought of Scherzer), I think Dan Straily and the bullpen (especially with extended use options like Brett Anderson) can hold back Detroit if Oakland gets an early lead. So here goes! Let’s Go Oakland!
2:08PM PDT – Top of 1st, 0 out – Those shadows look brutal right now. First few innings will be an advantage pitcher it seems. But no big deal for Coco Crisp who goes opposite field off of Fister and ends up on third with a lead off triple. That was Jhonny Peralta aided with that by not fielding it as well as perhaps a normal left fielder would. A’s need to score Crisp here. No excuse at all not to.
2:11PM PDT – Top of 1st, 1 out – Josh Donaldson flies out to Torii Hunter in right who double clutches before throwing home, up the first base line, a ball Alex Avila dropped. But Coco didn’t go. Not sure why. Hunter’s arm isn’t like Josh Reddick‘s arm and despite that Coco has some wheels.
2:13PM PDT – Top of 1st, 1 out – Finally for Jed Lowrie. Came in 0-for-12 but took a pitch and drove it opposite field into the hole between short and third to plate Coco and give the A’s their first run and a 1-0 lead.
2:17PM PDT – Top of 1st, 2 out – Valiant effort by Miguel Cabrera on the first foul ball to the third base side but no cigar. Second time was the charm as Moss fouled out closer to the line and Cabrera was able to corral it for the inning’s second out.
2:20PM PDT – Top of 1st, 3 out – Ground out from Yoenis Cespedes to end the top half. Good to see Oakland with a lead. I really want to see 1-2-3 innings out of Straily who I just don’t feel comfortable with on the mound. This is of course his first postseason appearance and while that was also true of Sonny Gray, Gray just seems to exude confidence on the hill whereas Straily just doesn’t seem to have that mojo to me at this point in his career.
2:25PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 1 out – Can’t complain with that start as Straily K’s Austin Jackson. If Coco has been a spark plug for the A’s offense, Jackson has been a flat tire for the Tigers’. 1-for-12 with a double, walk and eight strikeouts. Straily can really take advantage of that shadow right now.
2:26PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 2 out – Back to back strikeouts for Straily as he gets Torii swinging and then Stephen Vogt throws to second to complete the out. Good start.
2:27PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 3 out – Fly out to the warning track in right field as Straily gets past the dangerous Cabrera. Ten pitch inning with seven of the pitches strikes. Nice start. I feel he needed a 1-2-3 inning to start. That said, that is garbage analysis. Any pitcher can use a 1-2-3 inning at any time, but it is just with some you feel they don’t have to be so perfect and can get some wiggle room and I just don’t see Straily as that guy right now.
2:31PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 0 out – Seth Smith gets the second inning off with a leadoff single straight up the middle. Another good start, getting the pitcher on his heels. Yesterday the A’s did a very good job of that getting the lead runner on base in the first four innings.
2:32PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 0 out – Wild pitch from Fister sends Smith into scoring position at second.
2:33PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 1 out – Good job by Reddick to hit it to the right side and get Smith over to third on the groundout. A’s need to plate Smith somehow. Can’t leave guys stranded on third with less than two outs and hope to win.
2:35PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 2 out – Vogt does not get the job done. Breaks his bat hits it strangely into the space between Avila and Fister and Smith can’t score and Vogt is out. Big play for Detroit, big opportunity wasted by the A’s.
2:41PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 3 out – Coco drives it to the track in right field where Hunter settles under it. Looked good for a second there and Hunter seemed to awkwardly circle under it a bit, but alas ball met glove inning over. 50 pitches for Fister in his first two innings (30 are strikes). This is interesting just in the sense that I worry that the A’s knock Fister out not via getting to him but perhaps due to a high pitch count. Then they get the joy of facing Scherzer. Sort of a dangerous high wire act. You want them to work counts and such but you need them to score also, or you hold a one run lead with a very difficult pitcher opposing you.
2:44PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 0 out – Prince Fielder gets nicked on the elbow by Straily. Benches remain whatever the opposite of cleared is. Full? Obvious no intention to do so in a 1-0 ballgame to the leadoff hitter, who has done nothing to “deserve” being hit.
2:46PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 1 out – Straily really does look good. Nasty slider to get Victor Martinez swinging for out number one. Great movement on his pitches today, though Fister is getting good movement too. Shadows are out of play now. It’s been that way for a little bit, I just noticed it now. Entire infield in the shade.
2:47PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 3 out – 5-4-3 inning ending double play! Peralta’s being in for offense not panning out through one at bat today. Good quick inning for Straily who is in stark comparison to Fister just at a ridiculously efficient 19 pitches.
2:51PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 0 out – Why didn’t the A’s do this the other day. Bunt single down the third base line. Cabrera rumbles in. Can’t get Donaldson in time. Coco should have been doing this for a while. Buck Martinez is arguing he has reaggravated his injury. Don’t want someone to be injured but that certainly would benefit the A’s if true. Another leadoff runner for the A’s.
2:52PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 2 out – Big play for Detroit to negate Donaldson’s craftiness. Good play by Fielder to start the 3-6-1 double play. Good play by Fister too really there as Lowrie grounds into the double play.
2:54PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 3 out – Moss down on strikes. Eight pitch inning for Fister which he really needed. That double play was a big one. Lowrie really is not on the ball thus far in this series. Of course these things happen over the course of the season but my god how they magnify themselves in the postseason.
2:57PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 1 out – Like seeing Straily get out to leads starting Avila out 0-2 before he grounds out. Makes such a huge difference. Ground out ends it for the first out.
3:00PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 2 out – Sure, I say that then he gets behind Omar Infante. Regardless, Infante flies out to Reddick in right field and the inning is over.
3:01PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 3 out – Another efficient inning on the hill for Straily who has faced the minimum through three. Just 18 outs to go as he gets Jose Iglesias to ground out to first base. Still only at 31 pitches, so averaging a hair over 10 each inning.
3:05PM PDT – Top of 4th, 1 out – Iglesias is really a special defensive player. Tough hop, really great throw to get Cespedes. He has it all, the glove, the arm, the instinct. Really fun to watch as a fan of the game. I think Cespedes is probably safe with another shortstop there. Also, it is good to see Cespedes completely running full speed after he loafed one yesterday afternoon.
3:07PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out – Smith grounds out to Prince Fielder. 61.5% GB% in the ballgame for Fister thus far.
3:08PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out – Double for Reddick to center to keep the fourth inning alive and keep Fister from an issue-free inning. Nice to see his bat starting to show signs of life. Really enjoyed watching him launch a home run yesterday. If he could play anywhere near like he played last year he could be a huge piece in an otherwise sort of weak bottom part of the lineup.
3:09PM PDT – Top of 4th, 3 out – Vogt grounds out to the pitcher again. Nice play by Fister to end the inning and any A’s threat.
3:13PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 1 out – Another strikeout for Jackson. Straily is looking great, better than I’d have expected with four K’s already.
3:14PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 2 out – Hunter grounds out to third base. Donaldson over to Moss. Quick two outs.
3:15PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 3 out – Crisp doesn’t even have to move as Cabrera flies out. A’s pitchers have done a good job handling Cabrera who is now 3-for-14 (.214/.214/.214) with a K.
3:19 PM PDT – Top of 5th, 1 out – Sogard pulls a Sogard as one second baseman grounds out to another. I still wish it was Alberto Callaspo getting the start. I don’t think the A’s lose enough defensively to negatively offset the offensive gains, particularly with Callaspo’s familiarity and success against Fister.
3:20PM PDT – Top of 5th, 1 out – Coco with another hit a single just in front of Jackson. Would be nice to see him get into Fister’s head and use his speed to get Fister further off track and score some runs.
3:22PM PDT – Top of 5th, 2 out – Line out from Donaldson to Jackson for the second out of the inning. Crisp can’t move anywhere and remains on first.
3:24PM PDT – Top of 5th, 2 out – Redeemed thyself? Lowrie hits it to right field. Hunter kept running and running, he leaped and unlike a decade ago Hunter can’t steal it. That ball just carried and carried. Two-run home run just out of reach of Hunter’s outstretched arm. A’s up 3-0!
3:25PM PDT – Top of 5th, 3 out – Inning over as Moss flies out to Jackson to end the inning. Solid lead for the A’s as the Tigers presently are averaging just two runs a ballgame in this series – less if you wanted to count this as a half game. A’s in a good spot here. Straily has stepped up.
3:29PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 0 out – Fielder reached for that but it plunks down in front of Cespedes. Martinez says a stupid “singles won’t get it done for Detroit, they need to find the gaps and hit it out of the ballpark”. Yeah because like ten singles right now would just be disastrous. No runs have ever scored via singles. Ugh. I get his point, but like right now if I am a Detroit fan I am like, wow a baserunner. There isn’t ever a time I’d complain about a leadoff baserunner.
3:31PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 0 out – Martinez hits it between Sogard and Moss for a single into right. 1st and 2nd now for the Tigers. Little bit of adversity for Straily. A double play would be big with the lead-footed Peralta due up. A triple play would be better.
3:34PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 0 out – Maybe Jim Leyland was onto something. That was a no doubter. Valiant effort by Cespedes but that was a fat pitch and Peralta hit it a long way. This game is tied.
3:37PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 1 out – Good to get a strikeout there as Avila goes down swinging.
3:38PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 2 out – Infante flies out to Reddick in right. Back to back outs. Seems like Straily has recovered. Meanwhile, Scherzer is not up in the bullpen but Drew Smyly is for the Tigers.
3:39PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 3 out – Weak pop out for Iglesias to Moss. Inning done. Different ballgame witht he score tied.
3:44PM PDT – Top of 6th, 1 out – Ruh-roh, it seems like Scherzer may be stretching. Nice play by Cabrera to backhand it and throw over to Fielder to nab Cespedes. Fister seems settled in. That Lowrie HR looked like a fly out that was wind aided.
3:46PM PDT – Top of 6th, 2 out – Smith grounds out. Fielder to Fister. GB% is down a bit from earlier but still great at 54.5% for Fister. That is just slightly higher than his season mark of 54.3%.
3:47PM PDT – Top of 6th, 3 out – If I am Leyland I would not go with Scherzer. I have long been a fan of Fister but he has been pitching very well. A rocky first, and then a bad pitch to Lowrie, otherwise a very solid outing. Another ground out. Reddick to Infante. Infante to Fielder. Inning over. Fister has been pitching well under pressure though, because this is the first 1-2-3 inning for him all afternoon.
3:51PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 1 out – Jackson is doing everything he can to send the A’s to the ALCS. Hat trick for him as he goes down a third time on strikes, this time looking.
3:53PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 2 out – Second strikeout of the game for Hunter, seventh strikeout of the game for Straily. Still a good outing. One really bad pitch is all that separates him from a shutout right now.
3:54PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 2 out – Single for Cabrera into left field. Better a single than a home run that lands in Canada. This marks the 28th straight postseason game that Cabrera has reached base which is an MLB record. That is pretty impressive. Who knew?
3:56PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 3 out – Another strikeout. Number eight for Straily as Fielder goes down hacking.
3:58PM PDT – Top of 7th, 0 out – Fister’s day is done. Six innings, three earned runs on seven hits including the Lowrie HR, one walk and just one strikeout. Interestingly, I thought the outing wasn’t so terrible but the numbers don’t make it at all pretty: 4.50 ERA, 5.38 FIP. But a good 56.5% ground ball rate. The new pitcher for the Tigers will indeed be Scherzer. I don’t know that I would do this if I were Leyland, their bullpen doesn’t seem to be that sketchy after all Jose Alvarez did a great job yesterday and this means no Scherzer in a possible Game Five. Scherzer’s last bullpen outing came way back on August 31, 2008 when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. For what it was worth in his nine relief appearances he had a 2.37 ERA (4.03 FIP) with 8.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 in 19 innings.
4:01PM PDT – Top of 7th, 0 out – Base hit for Vogt up the middle. Sogard better bunt him over and test Cabrera. No excuses.
4:02PM PDT – Top of 7th, 1 out – He tested Fielder instead, but Sogie gets it down. Sacrifice and Vogt is at second.
4:06PM PDT – Top of 7th, 1 out – Dare I say it? The sacrifice bunt worked! I wanted a sacrifice! It happened! It panned out! The world as we know it is off its axis. Coco with a hit right up the middle. Scherzer is tagged for a run as Vogt scores from second uncontested. The A’s are back up at 4-3.
4:10PM PDT – Top of 7th, 2 out – Donaldson grounds out to third and Cabrera gets the lead runner at second but no more.
4:11PM PDT – Top of 7th, 3 out – Straight up the chute. Lowrie fouls out to Avila. Inning over. A’s lead! I suppose Straily’s day is done. It’ll be interesting to see as we head into the stretch. Nine outs to go.
4:13PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 0 out – Sean Doolittle is in for the A’s. Doolittle has appeared in two games this postseason. He has faced ten hitters, striking out four while walking one. He has yet to allow a hit.
4:15PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 0 out – Home run for Martinez. Second pitch from Doolittle. Both Crisp and Reddick are arguing interference but it doesn’t look like anyone is paying it any attention. Bob Melvin however is coming out so we might get a second look.
4:16PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 0 out – It really looks like Reddick might have been able to get that. The fan certainly got in the way. This could be interesting.
4:18PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 0 out – Umpires say home run. Tie game again. Can one really have definitive proof in this sort of situation? Probably not.
4:19PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 0 out – Peralta laces it down the left field line past Donaldson. Double. Wheels seem like they may be coming off for Doolittle.
4:22PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 1 out – Joaquin Benoit is warming for the Tigers (a little presumptuous) , but in the interim Doolittle recovers and strikes out Avila. Seemed silly for Leyland to ask him to attempt a bunt against a guy like Doolittle. But with two foul offs attempt the bunt, it was clear he would be swinging and Doolittle sets him down.
4:24PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 2 out – Sharp line drive for Infante to center but straight at Coco. No advance possible for Andy Dirks (pinch running for Peralta) which is all fine and dandy.
4:26PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 2 out – Doolittle not looking so hot, walks Iglesias.
4:29PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 2 out – Jackson comes through. Redemption for him. Broken bat single just in front of Reddick who nearly gets to it. Dirks scores from second. Tigers up 5-4 late. Melvin is making a move and dumping Doolittle. Nothing good to say of his outing, just two thirds of an inning, allows two earned runs on three hits including the VMart home run, walking one and striking out one. He had Jackson down 0-2 and lost him.
4:31PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 2 out – The new A’s pitcher will be Dan Otero who has just been great this postseason (granted, same could be said of Doolittle) with three innings and a third innings, allowing two hits, walking no one and striking out one in his two appearances.
4:33PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 3 out – Otero K’s Hunter but the damage is done. A 4-3 lead now a 5-4 deficit. A’s have six outs to work with which is more than enough time.
4:38PM PDT – Top of 8th, 0 out – Moss draws a leadoff walk off of Scherzer. Meanwhile Leyland keeps Cabrera in at third. Don’t get why the TBS crew is surprised by this as Leyland has picked offense over defense all along.
4:40PM PDT – Top of 8th, 0 out – Cespedes didn’t have trouble with Scherzer in Game One. Doesn’t have trouble with him here as the ball gets past Hunter in right field before he bobbles it making it second and third with no one out.
4:41PM PDT – Top of 8th, 0 out – Interesting decision. Smyly looks to be coming in to face the three lefties (though I have to think there’ll be at least one pinch hitter in there for Vogt) and Scherzer is intentionally walking Smith to bring those three to the plate.
4:42PM PDT – Top of 8th, 0 out – Even more interesting. Scherzer is set to face Reddick not Smyly. I don’t get why the Tigers would be so concerned with Derek Norris (presumed pinch hitter for Vogt) but Leyland likes Scherzer/Reddick more than Smyly/Norris.
4:45PM PDT – Top of 8th, 1 out – Ouch. Nasty change up down and in fools Reddick and sets him down on strikes. That was a tough pitch and would have been a game tying walk as it was out of the zone.
4:48PM PDT – Top of 8th, 2 out – Wow. Strikeout of Vogt. A’s can’t load the bases with no one out and get nothing. Callaspo will pinch hit for Sogard (thank goodness).
4:53PM PDT – Top of 8th, 3 out – Callaspo nearly ripped one into the left field corner. But after getting the count to full, Callaspo lines out to Jackson in center field. Wow. That was just incredible. I wonder if Leyland just sticks with Scherzer in the ninth? I’d choose him over Benoit if I were him.
4:55PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 0 out – Ryan Cook makes his ALDS debut. Callaspo takes over at second. Cook this year threw 67 1/3 innings for the A’s putting up 9.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 0.3 HR/9 for a 2.54 ERA and 2.74 FIP.
4:57PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 1 out – 3-0 count and Cabrera saves Cook with a groundout to Donaldson.
4:59PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – Straight down the middle and Prince watches it for strike three. Nice pitch to freeze him.
5:00PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – Martinez keeps giving A’s fans reasons not to like him and a single here off Cook doesn’t do anything to earn him any favor with A’s fans.
5:04PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – Dirks draws a walk. Leyland looking to add on pinch runs with Hernan Perez. Cook is out of the ballgame and Anderson is being sent in to get the A’s out of this mess. On the year Anderson has made five starts in 16 appearances. Out of the pen this year he has thrown 21 innings of 9.4 K/9. 3.4 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9 baseball for a 4.71 ERA and 3.33 FIP.
5:09PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – The A’s are getting into a mess as quickly as the Tigers got out of one. Five pitch walk to Avila. Bases juiced.
5:10PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – Tigers add on the insurance run. Tigers 6, A’s 4. Perez gets home from third on the wild pitch from Anderson.
5:11PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – And the rout is on. Double by Infante into the left field corner drives in two. Tigers 8, A’s 4. Closes the book on Cook, two thirds of an inning, two runs (both earned) on one hit, one walk, one K.
5:12PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 3 out – Iglesias strikes out and the inning mercifully is over.
5:15PM PDT – Top of 9th, 0 out – Benoit in. Benoit got the four out save in Game One. Faced four hitters and K’d three of them.
5:16PM PDT – Top of 9th, 0 out – Base hit into right field from Coco. Great day for him fourth hit.
5:19PM PDT – Top of 9th, 1 out – Donaldson K’s. Down to their final two outs.
5:21PM PDT – Top of 9th, 1 out – Benoit now walks Lowrie. Game is at least becoming a little bit more interesting.
5:25PM PDT – Top of 9th, 2 out – Moss grounds out to first base. Fielder just goes to the bag so Crisp and Lowrie advance to second and third.
5:26PM PDT – Top of 9th, 2 out – Cespedes comes through again. Takes the fastball and puts it right back where it came from with a hit up the middle. Good enough to plate Crisp and Lowrie and close the gap to Detroit 8, Oakland 6. Tying run will be up in Seth Smith. Frustrating that if Cook could have got out of that inning A’s would be in the driver’s seat.
5:28PM PDT – Top of 9th, 2 out – Defensive indifference allows Cespedes to second.
5:33PM PDT – Top of 9th, 3 out – Took eight pitches but Smith finally breaks and strikes out. The series goes back to Oakland.