Live Blogging: A’s @ Tigers Game 5 ALDS
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.