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.
The A's played 10 consecutive months of winning ball dating from June 2012. It's the longest active streak in the majors. The Tigers didn't.
The A's had a 4-3 record against the Tigers in the regular season. That means the Tigers didn't have a winning record against the A's.
I will add a few Tigers' info-facts. Like Detroit's bullpen is pretty much shot.
Like Miguel Cabrera, the best player in the known world, has a groin strain and other assorted stuff, and may have lost his batting power.
Here is Tigers manager Jim Leyland on his slugger: "He's playable, he's not 100 percent, obviously. The medical people feel that he's not going to do anything to endanger his future and he wants to play. He's handicapped a little bit, although I think he is better. Probably the last few days have helped him out a little bit. He's still not going to be running at full speed and there probably would be a situation where the eighth inning and after, we would run for him, probably not before. So you've just got to be willing to live with the fact that he's not going to run very well and that pretty much sums it up."
Leyland on Cabrera's hitting: "I think, for a while, it was tough for Miguel to use his lower half to hit, and most good hitters use the lower half and he uses it as good as anybody. I think it did hinder him for a while. But the last few games we played, that doesn't seem to be there anymore and he seems to be fine from that aspect. So, I think he's over that part of it now. He is getting better, but he's nowhere near 100 percent."