Check out our preview for the AL Divisional Series game between the Oakland A's and Detroit Tigers.
Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers
Time & Dates:
Game 1 Saturday 5th October from O.co Coliseum
Game 1 is live on Fox Sports 3 & Fox Sports 3 HD at 11:30am AEST (see TV Guide for other games and times)
For the second year in a row, the Tigers and the Athletics will meet in the divisional series.
Both teams have had the luxury of knowing their fate early, allowing for plenty of preparation heading into the playoffs. Players should be feeling fresh and ready to roll.
The A’s are back in the postseason for the second consecutive year, after bowing out to the Tigers, 3-2, last season.
The Tigers won the first two at home, before the A’s won back to back games in Oakland to tie it up at 2-2. The Tigers then trounced Oakland, 6-0, in the final game in to advance.
Detroit ended up advancing to the World Series before being swept 4-0 by San Francisco in the big dance.
No doubt the key for the A’s will be shutting down the might of the Detroit bats, including Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. The Tigers boast the best team batting average in the league, and they will be tough to slow down.
Cabrera is a genuine superstar. He led the AL in batting average and ranked second in both home runs and RBI.
Fielder, Omar Infante and Tori Hunter are all more than capable at the plate, and they will give the Oakland pitchers plenty to worry about.
The Oakland offence is vastly underrated. They ranked third behind the Red Sox and Tigers in runs in the AL for the season.
Guys like Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss will be looking to inflict some damage against the Tigers.
The Tigers do have the upper hand here, but it is much closer than most of us believe.
Oakland and Detroit both have some serious pitching firepower.
The Athletics are ranked fifth in terms of opposition batting average, allowing opposition teams to hit just .243, and their pitchers have a combined ERA of 3.58.
The Tigers are not too far behind in the eighth spot with an opposition batting average of .248 and a combined ERA of 3.63. Detroit does, however, lead the league in strikeouts with 1415, almost 250 more than the A’s.
While the A’s will argue it doesn’t matter how you get them out as long as you get them out, it must be a mental battle having to go up against a team who can throw strike after strike. Plus, by striking out batters, the Tigers can protect their suspect defence.
Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister are the guys who the Tigers will strut out to the mound. Scherzer is the favourite for the Cy Young, Verlander is a former MVP and Sanchez is the AL ERA leader.
That is one talented group.
Bartolo Colon, Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily are all solid pitchers, and against any other team, they would probably have the advantage. Just not against these Tigers.
Aussie Grant Balfour is Oakland A’s closer and a big reason why the Athletics’ bullpen is ranked third in the AL. If the game is in the balance late, the A’s will be very confident their relief group will get the job done.
Oakland leads the AL in defensive efficiency. They are a magnificent team when it comes to fielding. The Tigers are below average.
As you can see both these teams are very evenly matched, and it should be another excellent series that goes the distance. The A’s will be out for revenge after last season, while the Tigers will be desperate to make up for last season’s World Series capitulation. Give me Detroit in five.