Underdog A's to face greats in Detroit
BY NOAH TRISTER Associated Press
Saturday, October 06, 2012
10/06/12 at 5:28 AM
DETROIT - One team has the reigning MVP and another player who just won the Triple Crown.
The Oakland Athletics will try to counter all that by sending - who else? - a rookie to the mound.
"We've been the 'David' all year," A's right-hander Jarrod Parker said. "I think obviously it's a role and an image that we've kind of taken on and been able to embrace and it's fun."
Parker will start against Detroit ace Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the division series Saturday night. The AL Central-champion Tigers are making their second straight playoff appearance, but Oakland emerged as one of the game's biggest surprises by winning the AL West.
Now the A's have to contend with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera - the Detroit third baseman who might win the American League MVP after Verlander took the award last year.
"We know we've got a great ballclub. We know what we have in the clubhouse," Cabrera said. "We know we're going to face a very hot team like Oakland. They play unbelievable baseball right now."
Cabrera hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1967. But he wasn't the only big story in the closing days of the regular season. The A's rallied to win the AL West, edging Texas by one game when they beat the Rangers on the final day.
Not bad for a team that had the lowest opening day payroll in the majors. Oakland got 56 homers and 54 wins from rookies that included Parker (13-8) and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Rookie left-hander Tommy Milone, who matched Parker with 13 wins, is slated to start Game 2.
"Obviously with Verlander going Game 1, you've got to be on your game," Parker said. "We have a lot of left-handed bats that are hot right now, and I think that's one thing we've got going for us."
ALDS: Athletics vs. Tigers
A look at the best-of-five American League division series between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers:
The A's were swept by Detroit in the 2006 ALCS, ending their last playoff trip. Detroit won the pennant on a home run by Magglio Ordonez. ... The teams split a four-game series in Oakland in May, and Detroit won two of three at home in September. ... Seth Smith had good success against the Tigers this season, hitting .417 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs. ... Brett Anderson, a Stillwater graduate, allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings in his one start vs. the Tigers before leaving with an oblique injury that sidelined him for the last two weeks of the regular season.
Swingin' A's: Few relied on the home run ball as much as the A's, who were second-to-last in the league in batting average.
Heart of the order: The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked five times in last year's postseason - and that was before he went out and won the Triple Crown. One way to approach the Tigers is to limit the damage Cabrera and Prince Fielder can do and hope for rally-killing double-play balls from other hitters.
Mighty 'pen: Oakland's bullpen was young but effective, with Ryan Cook making the All-Star team as a rookie. The big key came when Grant Balfour won back his closing job Aug. 11. He converted all 17 save chances down the stretch.
- Associated Press