OAKLAND — The Oakland A's can beat the Detroit Tigers in the five-game League Division Series starting tonight at the Coliseum.
I am not saying the A's will beat the Tigers. I am saying they have a hell of a shot, a better shot than last year when they almost won — they lost in five games. The A's are a bargain-basement team — it's like Billy Beane bought the players off racks in the basement of Macy's. And yet the A's had a better regular-season record than the high-priced — overpriced? — Tigers. The A's can flat-out play.
Why do the A's have a shot to win the series?
Try this on for size. In last year's playoffs, they faced Detroit's wonder pitcher Justin Verlander twice and lost to him twice, including the final game. This time around, they face Verlander once. Even with Verlander pitching twice, the A's almost won the series. So the Verlander shortage is significant — plus, he's not as overpowering as once upon a time.
You want more pro-A's arguments? Happy to oblige.
In last year's playoffs, the A's did not have pitcher Bartolo Colon. There was something about serving a 50-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs. The big guy did his time and now he's starting tonight's game. And get this, he was very good this season. How good? He finished second in the American League in wins (18) and ERA (2.65). He is a definite Cy Young candidate.
The Tigers will start four right-handed pitchers against the A's. That means the A's will use their anti-righty batting order, their best batting order. Lefty Brandon Moss (30 dingers) bats cleanup against right-handers.
Here are some more A's facts courtesy of, well, the A's:
The A's had the best record (190-134), along with Atlanta, the past two seasons. The Tigers didn't.
Since May 17, the A's had the best record in the majors. The Tigers didn't.