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Live Blogging: Tigers @ A’s Game 1 ALDS

October 4, 2013

Game is starting up. Upset to see that the A’s drew this crew for the national broadcasts: Buck Martinez, Don Orsillo and former A’s closer Dennis Eckersley. I don’t mind Orsillo, you can certainly do a lot worse, but as everyone who reads me knows I can’t stand Martinez, so it will be painful having to listen to him for at least three games. This looks to be an evenly matched series, have to give the edge to the Tigers in this one and the series care of that rotation they have. Nice to see the top deck open too. Go A’s!

6:39PM PDT – Top of 1st, 0 out – Leadoff double for Austin Jackson off of Bartolo Colon to start the game for Detroit on a 1-1 pitch. Jackson is a good ballplayer. Would’ve loved to have seen a 1-2-3 to start it off, shake off any rust as Colon hasn’t pitched in the postseason since 2005 with the Angels.

6:40PM PDT – Top of 1st, 0 out – Inauspicious beginning with a hit batter. Can’t say I mind Torii Hunter getting plunked. Not a big fan of his. That said, two men on and Miguel Cabrera up is a mess. First hit batter since May 20th of last year when Colon hit Buster Posey with a pitch in San Francisco.

6:41PM PDT – Top of 1st, 0 out – That was quick. Detroit scores and is up 1-0 as Cabrera hits it through Colon’s wickets right up the middle. That was a quick mess and it now men on the corners for Prince Fielder (doesn’t get much easier for Colon or the A’s).

6:42PM PDT – Top of 1st, 2 out – Big double play right there to get Prince on the 6-4-3 out of fielder. Thing is another run scores and Detroit makes it 2-0.

6:45PM PDT – Top of 1st, 2 out – Opposite field double to left-center field for Victor Martinez over Jed Lowrie‘s glove. Tough spot. Colon does not look like he is in his zone at all. Remember this Tigers team has had individual success hitting against Colon and it shows right now.

6:46PM PDT – Top of 1st, 2 out – Detroit 3, Oakland 0. Daric Barton needed to make that play. His defense is supposed to really be his sweet spot and it gets by him and Eric Sogard for a run scoring single from Alex Avila. What a mess. Awful start. Really kills any fan excitement and neutralizes the home field advantage.

6:47PM PDT – Top of 1st, 3 out – The underrated Omar Infante grounds out and the bleeding stops.

6:53PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 1 out – Max Scherzer has allowed fewer than three runs in 21 of his 32 starts this year, so it isn’t looking good early. When he allows four or more runs the Tigers are 3-3 so the A’s know their work is cut out for them to even make it even. Big full count strike out of Coco Crisp there.

6:56PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 2 out – Already growing tired of the “quick narrative” aspect of this broadcast: Scherzer looks Sharp/Colon looks out of sync. It’ll continue unless the A’s get to Scherzer. While it is fair, we also have seen one and two thirds innings of pitching.

6:57PM PDT – Bottom of 1st, 3 out – Weak ground out for Josh Donaldson. 1-2-3 for Scherzer. Good response from the Tigers to really kill any good feelings in the A’s clubhouse.

7:00PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 1 out – Great to get the first K for Colon there on Andy Dirks. Hopefully that is him settling down and getting things done. For what it is worth Colon has only had nine starts where has has allowed three or more runs this season out of his 30.

7:04PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 2 out – Nice play by Lowrie to get the speedy Jose Iglesias. Great stretch by Barton, who needs to shake off that first inning fielding miscue (though it was fairly ruled a single it was a ball Barton normally gets).

7:06PM PDT – Top of 2nd, 3 out – There is the 1-2-3 inning the A’s needed as A’s get Jackson to ground out. Hopefully this is a sign of some settling down for the A’s.

7:10PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 1 out – Brandon Moss set down on strikes. I love the use of stupid meaningless stats in these broadcasts. The stat of the night is pitchers per game by starting pitchers, a category the Tigers apparently lead with 103.0 pitches coming out of their starters each game, then the crew laughs at the White Sox being second at 100.7 (for what it is worth Oakland lands at 94.8 per game).  The White Sox first off, have pretty good starting pitching lest we forget, despite their record which is more a reflection of their offense being inconsistent than their pitching lacking. But regardless there is a slew of reasons a team could have a high pitch count for starters. It can be true of teams that are very good or teams that are very bad. It says absolutely nothing. A strikeout pitcher will throw more pitches than a pitch to contact guy. One can argue the strikeout pitcher will see more success but that isn’t necessarily true, so that stat told us absolutely nothing but now poses as intelligent baseball discussion. I suppose I fed the raccoon on that one by this long comment about it.

7:12PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 1 out – Triple for Yoenis Cespedes! Si Cespedes! Dirks looks terrible fielding that. He should’ve prepped for the carom. Jhonny Peralta could’ve fielded that as cleanly. A’s need to take advantage and chip away. Josh Reddick has to do anything to avoid the strikeout.

7:14PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 2 out – What can’t Reddick do here? Strikeout. What did Reddick do here? Strikeout.

7:18PM PDT – Bottom of 2nd, 3 out – Stephen Vogt didn’t miss a double down the line by much but gets out one a hard line out to Prince at first. Vogt is a great story and it’d be nice to see him shine in the playoffs as he likely gets the start in all five guys with the Tigers’ rotation being all right handed.

7:23PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 1 out – Nice pitch to get Torii to chase. That is a great pitch. Second K on the game. Can’t have any baserunners on with Cabrera up. Cabrera scares me. As he should every opposing pitcher or fan of any opposing team.

7:25PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 2 out – Cabrera flies to center but, the broadcasters are going to debate Cabrera and Mike Trout for MVP. Let’s all ignore the fact that another third baseman who just happens to be playing in this very game (Donaldson) has a higher WAR (7.7) than Cabrera (7.6) and is probably more integral to his team’s success than Cabrera was with how much he carried their respective club. One can make a very solid case for Donaldson (though I’d make the case for Trout as to me most valuable = the best), but saying that Cabrera is the “only one” on a winning team is just wrong.

7:27PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 2 out – Great hitting for Prince. Like to see people hit opposite field against the shift. Of course, I prefer to see the A’s do that. Unfortunate to not settle down with two straight 1-2-3’s.

7:29PM PDT – Top of 3rd, 3 out – Third strikeout as Colon gets VMart swinging. He is looking good. That Fielder hit really was fielder hitting as opposed to a mistake by Colon and while they end up the same in the box score it makes a difference for confidence’s sake to throw a good pitch and just get beat you tip your cap. To throw a mistake and get beat, in your mind is don’t make another mistake.

7:34PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 1 out – It sucks to see Barton strikeout looking. That is such a Barton thing to do. But are we really complaining that the problem with him was his on base percentage was too good? Really? Weak analysis. The problems with Barton are many, but his seeing a lot of pitches isn’t one of them. It’s his seeing pitches like that last one from Scherzer that are absurdly hittable.

7:36PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 2 out – Sogard and the A’s insist on going down relatively quietly with a weak ground out to make it two outs as the lineup turns over.

7:38PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 2 out – Coco draws a walk. Where is the confidence there? Ha! He sat there for a bit, was it a ball? Was it not? Can’t blame him on the borderline pitch and I guess it beats those guys who fling the bat then sheepishly have to recover it.

7:41PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 2 out – The first thing counted as a pickoff throw? It was like a shotput throw at best. Why even bother? The second one was a bit better but still unimpressive. It seems like Coco’s speed has sort of gotten into Scherzer’s head as he throws the wild pitch. That is the power of speed. Not the stolen base so much as the threat of it. Now a hole will open on the left side for Lowrie to hit through.

7:42PM PDT – Bottom of 3rd, 3 out – A hole on the left side. Lowrie grounds out to the right side and the inning is over. Scherzer has thrown three innings, allowed a hit, walked one and struck out four on 49 pitches with 32 being strikes. He is looking good and won’t be easy to beat.

7:45PM PDT – Top of 4th, 1 out – Avila hits into the shift to get the first out of the inning. Good quick start for Colon to continue to just get guys out. His only goal can be to keep the deficit at three and not let it grow at all.

7:48PM PDT – Top of 4th, 1 out – Infante taking 3-0 and did exactly what I laughed about earlier as he started for first before sheepishly going back into the box. But great battle from Colon to get from 3-0 back to 3-2. Nice play by Donaldson to make it even close, but the infield hit gives the Tigers yet another baserunner.

7:49PM PDT – Top of 4th, 2 out – Lazy fly ball to left field to get Dirks out.

7:50PM PDT – Top of 4th, 3 out – Iglesias ends the inning 6-3. Colon through four not as sharp as Scherzer with three runs (all earned) on six hits, with no walks and three strikeouts on 66 pitches, 43 for strikes.

7:54PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 1 out – That ball seemed outside, but Donaldson’s reaction seems overblown. It was a could go either way, it certainly wasn’t a clear cut he stole one from him. Five strikeouts for Scherzer who is really locked in. A’s need to start off an inning with a hit and make Scherzer work some.

7:56PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 2 out – Six strikeouts for Scherzer as he gets Moss swinging. Moss K’d 27.7% of the time this season, he is at 100.0% tonight.

7:59PM PDT – Bottom of 4th, 3 out – Seven strikeouts as Scherzer strikes out the side. Not a bad threesome to set down on strikes in Donaldson, Moss and Cespedes. Those are some solid hitters. Of course, Scherzer is probably near unanimous for American League Cy Young Award and I am a long believer in good pitching beats good hitting (see the Atlanta Braves, most of the 1990s and key bad hitting member of that team Tigers first base coach Rafael Belliard).

8:03PM PDT – Top of 5th, 1 out – Fourth K for Colon as he gets Jackson looking. This would be a real pitchers duel if the top half of the first didn’t happen.

8:04PM PDT – Top of 5th, 1 out – Smart move by Hunter to get on base by taking advantage of Donaldson playing deep at third. Completely indefensible and an infield hit for Hunter. Dangerous part of Detroit’s lineup is due up. Could be a consequential hit.

8:09PM PDT – Top of 5th, 2 out – Cabrera eventually flies out, but that check swing was a big deal 2-1 versus 1-2 is a big deal. After 1-2 in his career even a great hitter like Cabrera is .230/.288/.387 compared to after 2-1 his hitting .295/.444/.550 The bigger deal was Cabrera swinging through on what could’ve been strike three on the next pitch. Fortunately the fly out rendered any question about that moot.

8:10PM PDT – Top of 5th, 3 out – Nice strike thrown by Colon as he nabs Hunter trying to steal second with Colon not looking and the inning is over. Not supposed to make the last out of an inning on the basepaths so much for the baseball smarts. That was a terrible decision. You have Fielder and Martinez due up. What is the point? Especially with a 3-0 lead. Strange play.

8:15PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 1 out – Reddick looks awful. Eight strikeouts on the 70th pitch for Scherzer.

8:16PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 2 out – Vogt with a fly out to right field. The A’s just don’t even look like they are getting remotely good wood on balls. Ignoring the fact he has eight strikeouts already, when the A’s make contact it goes nowhere too as the BABIP for the Scherzer is a low .143. The A’s just hit it weakly right to guys, nothing here has represented a snag.

8:18PM PDT – Bottom of 5th, 3 out – Barton K’s. Nine strikeouts. Yeesh. The regular box score line looks good enough, but let’s have some fun with small sample sizes and advanced stats. Scherzer’s FIP? 0.05, backed by 16.2 K/9 and a 57.1% ground ball rate. Sick. You can’t beat that. A’s need to figure him out fast.

8:22PM PDT – Top of 6th, 1 out – First pitch swinging sees Fielder fly out to Cespedes.

8:27PM PDT – Top of 6th, 1 out – Nine pitch at bat and Martinez puts it right back up the 50 yard line. The Tigers are nickel and diming things with eight hits. It’ll chase Colon eventually.

8:30PM PDT – Top of 6th, 1 out – The 3-0 pitch was just as far outside as the first three but Colon again battles back from 3-0 to make it 3-2 but Avila hits it up the middle past Lowrie who was covering second. Another hit for the Tigers. Nine on the night.

8:32PM PDT – Top of 6th, 2 out – Reddick has looked awful at the plate but wow did he look great there. Single for Infante, opposite field to Reddick who comes up throwing and gets Martinez with room to spare for Vogt to apply the tag. That was great, his arm is so valuable in right. Vogt might have wanted to play it a bit safer by blocking the plate more but no worries.

8:34PM PDT – Top of 6th, 3 out – Dirks with a sky high pop up to Donaldson to end the inning. Nice way to get out of the jam. Would’ve been a bigger mess had Martinez held. I wouldn’t test Reddick and Martinez isn’t much of a runner. That was clutch working out of trouble. Not sure if this is the end of the line for Colon as the cameras kept showing Dan Otero warming in the pen.

8:37PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 1 out – Great work there from Sogie. Can’t get to a guy so let’s swing and pop up to the shortstop on the first pitch. Don’t want Scherzer’s pitch count to get too high.

8:40PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 1 out – Coco draws a walk. Would be nice to see him get Scherzer off his game with some moving around on first. Third baserunner for Oakland. Second walk, both to Coco. Cespedes still with the lone hit, a triple way back in the second inning.

8:44PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 2 out – Bad day for Dirks in the field as that long run would have been a great play. He got the glove on it and dropped it. I think the dirt of the bullpen sort of psyched him out. Lowrie lives to see another pitch but then takes the next one also into left field with a laser that Dirks didn’t have to even move for.

8:49PM PDT – Bottom of 6th, 3 out – Tenth strikeout was a big one. Right down the middle and Donaldson could not connect stranding Coco at first. Normally, a guy on first with two outs wouldn’t feel like a rally but with the way Scherzer is pitching it sure did. 96 pitches for Scherzer as the Tigers approach that 104 pitch “average” they spoke of earlier. Perhaps more insight into what it means would be to see how Jim Leyland has treated Scherzer this season. He is averaging 16 pitches an inning so if he pitches another inning at that level he’d be at 112 pitches a number he has exceeded nine times this season. His high being a 123 pitch outing in Minnesota on September 25th.

8:52PM PDT – Top of 7th, 0 out – Otero is in for Colon. Colon’s line is six innings, ten hits that resulted in three earned runs as he walked no one and struck out just four. He really got burned with a .476 BABIP which supports the eyeball which was saying the Tigers kept finding holes. Otero on the year comes in having pitched 39 innings of 6.2 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 0.0 HR/9 baseball for a 1.38 ERA and 2.12 FIP.

8:54PM PDT – Top of 7th, 1 out – Nice pick by Donaldson and Iglesias is set down.

8:55PM PDT – Top of 7th, 2 out – Foul out for Jackson. And two quick outs in the top half of the seventh.

8:56PM PDT – Top of 7th, 3 out – 1-2-3 for Otero. Stretch time. A’s need to get some baserunners.

9:02PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 0 out – Finally a leadoff hit. Moss gets on board with an awkward chopper up the middle that Iglesias tried in vain to get to but ultimately couldn’t. 100 pitches for Scherzer as the A’s look to finally get on the board.

9:06PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 0 out – I had said, if the A’s could get a leadoff baserunner they can do something. They got it and Si Cespedes! Home run to deep left field. A no doubter off the bat. One of those classic “you could hear it” home runs. A’s get on the board. Oakland 3, Detroit 2. Detroit’s pen is no joke but boy has the tenor of this game changed.

9:09PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 1 out – Reddick flies out to left field. The way Iglesias and Dirks broke it looked like it might drop in but it hung up and Dirks took care of it. Al Alburquerque and Jose Alvarez are ready in the Tigers pen.

9:11PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 2 out – Another fly out to no-man’s land in left but Iglesias gets to it to get Vogt out. Sean Doolittle meanwhile warms in the A’s pen.

9:12PM PDT – Bottom of 7th, 3 out – Barton swings at an ugly pitch way inside to get Scherzer his eleventh K. Hat trick for Barton who joins Donaldson, Moss and Reddick with multiple strikeouts. But the A’s are on the board. I assume that is the end of the line for Scherzer. If it is a great outing for him: seven innings, two walks, eleven K’s, for 14.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 1.3 HR/9 a 2.57 ERA and 2.62 FIP and a .167 BABIP on 118 pitches.

9:17PM PDT – Top of 8th, 1 out – Ball bounces off of Donaldson’s glove but Cabrera was chugging slowly down the line and he gets him out regardless. That’s all for Otero who will be replaced by Doolittle. Otero goes an inning and a third with no straight or crooked numbers otherwise on his line. Of his 15 pitches, 11 crossed as strikes.

9:21PM PDT – Top of 8th, 2 out – Amazing how Fielder can on top of that pitch to drive it as he did. Fortunately though it looked scary off the bat for a split second it nestled safely into Reddick’s glove well short of the right-center field warning track.

9:24PM PDT – Top of 8th, 2 out – That was ugly. Sinking liner to left field. Seemed like it was going well and then Cespedes shanked it. Should’ve been an easy out but alas it was not. E7 and Martinez cruises into second. Hopefully that does not come back to haunt the A’s as the Tigers are 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position tonight.

9:26PM PDT – Top of 8th, 3 out – Doolittle takes care of business and gets Avila swinging to negate any ill effects of the Cespedes error. A’s look poised to face Drew Smyly in the bottom half. The left-handed Smyly has had a heck of a year having thrown 76 innings with 9.6 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 for a 2.37 ERA and well in line with that 2.31 FIP, though as a reliever importantly, he had a strong 18:9 shutdown to meltdown ratio.

9:30PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 0 out – Smyly is indeed out. But there are several changes. The A’s have Alberto Callaspo pinch hitting for Sogard, and should the A’s score, a big deal is that Cabrera is out of the game having been replaced by Ramon Santiago at third.

9:31PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 1 out – A new pitcher and a new hitter but a familiar result as Callaspo is struck out looking. Joaquin Benoit is warming in the Detroit pen.

9:34PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 1 out – In the game MLB: The Show Matt Vasgersian says “I don’t know how you lay off that one but he did and it’s a ball”. I felt that way about two of those pitches. But Crisp let them go. They are called balls. Smyly walks Crisp who has drawn three walks. Tying run is on first.

9:37PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 2 out – Big strikeout as Lowrie goes down swinging. Only Vogt and Sogard have eluded a strikeout. Meanwhile Leyland is not leaving anything up to chance and is bringing in his closer for the four out save. Smyly leaves having thrown two-thirds of an inning walking one and striking out two on 15 pitches, with just over half (eight) for strikes. Benoit comes in, sporting a 2.01 ERA and 2.87 FIP earned in 66 appearances and 67 innings pitched of 9.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 baseball. He has an immaculate 30:4 shutdown to meltdown ratio which should give A’s fans some heart palpitations.

9:41PM PDT – Bottom of 8th, 3 out – Donaldson pops it up between the mound and plate and Fielder commensurate with his name fields it. Assuming the A’s can keep it a one run deficit, they have Moss, Cespedes and Reddick due up in the bottom of the ninth. Any of those three are more than capable of tying this game with one swing so the A’s look to be in solid shape to make a go of it. Moss has not fared well with a 0-for-6 with 3 K’s, but Cespedes (2-for-3 with a walk) and Reddick 1-for-4 with a HR and 3 K’s – only Athletic with a home run off Benoit) look a bit better.

9:46PM PDT – Top of 9th, 1 out – Elevate, elevate, elevate. Infante chases and Doolittle records his second strikeout.

9:47PM PDT – Top of 9th, 1 out – Dirks is out, Peralta is in. Peralta gets booed which is sort of funny given how much of the A’s success in the 1980’s was PED fueled. Defensively Dirks has had some tough chances in left and Peralta could be a factor in the bottom half as Cespedes’ two hits have both been to left field.

9:48PM PDT – Top of 9th, 2 out – Fly out to right field for Peralta.

9:50PM PDT – Top of 9th, 3 out – Doolittle looks electric. Five pitch K of Iglesias. Love the fourth pitch of the at bat. Just how far up does Doolittle think guys are going to keep chasing?

9:53PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 0 out – Peralta was just a pinch hitter as the new left-fielder is Don Kelly. Here we go! It’s go time!

9:57PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 1 out – A’s down to their final two outs. Moss strikes out. Avila can’t locate the ball which sort of ricochets back to Benoit so 1-3 on the strikeout. That is sort of strange. A’s have now struck out 14 times in this ballgame.

9:59PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 2 out – Fifteen strikeouts. My god. This is awful. I don’t buy into “productive outs” but you are doing next to nothing with a strikeout. Well, no, you are doing absolutely nothing. All comes down to Reddick who has not looked great offensively this year or in this game.

10:02PM PDT – Bottom of 9th, 3 out – Reddick strikes out. Sixteen strikeouts. 16 of 33 so 48.5% K% for the A’s as a team tonight. Not good. A’s find themselves down 1-0 and facing Justin Verlander tomorrow. Doesn’t get any easier folks, these Detroit starters are legit. All the A’s runs come on the Cespedes home run.

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