Frankly it’s difficult to be too upset about the A’s dropping game 1 when they were facing off against one of the toughest pitchers in the game in the form of Justin Verlander. It started off in a promising fashion though when Coco Crisp took Verlander deep to lead off the game and give the A’s an immediate lead. Unfortunately that would be the only run the A’s would score today. As they say, if you don’t get Verlander early you won’t get him at all, and true to form he dominated more and more as the game progressed.
Jarrod Parker allowed a run of his own in the 1st, after a lead off double, a single, and a double play ball by Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers would take the lead in the bottom of the 3rd on a 2 out Quintin Berry RBI single. They would tack on another run with an Alex Avila solo home run in the 5th inning, which would be all the Tigers would need to take the first game of the ALDS. Parker would pitch into the 7th inning, getting an out surrounded by two more singles. Altogether he allowed 3 runs (2ER) on 7 hits, 1 walk, with 5 strikeouts.
For the A’s, the most significant story of the game came after Jarrod Parker exited. We all were saddened to hear of the news of the sudden death of reliever Pat Neshek‘s newborn baby boy Gehrig later on in the evening after the A’s won the AL West on Wednesday. Gehrig lived just 23 hours, and still no explanation has been given for why he died. Pat and his wife though decided their best therapy would be to join the A’s in Detroit for the Division Series. Little did Neshek know that the A’s were going to wear patches with the initials “GJN” on their uniforms. It was clear by the postgame quotes from many of the A’s players to Susan Slusser that it was a truly special moment to see Neshek come out to the mound and get the job done. Seeing him out there sort of puts the fact that they lost this game on the back burner, this was about things way more important than baseball.
Jerry Blevins got his playoff feet wet with a clean bottom of the 8th inning.
As we look ahead to game 2, bright and early on the west coast at 9AM Tommy Milone will take on Doug Fister. Fister is not anywhere near the dominant type of pitcher Justin Verlander is, but he’s pitched well against the A’s over his career. Fister is also much less prone to piling up the strikeouts like Verlander so maybe a little more contact being made by the A’s can translate to some success. Tommy Milone had some fairly dramatic home/road splits early in the season, but he’s pitched well lately on the road in 3 of his last 4 starts during the regular season.
If the A’s can escape Detroit with a win they’ll be in good shape heading back to Oakland for game 3 on Tuesday. If they don’t they’ll need to sweep the Tigers in Oakland and that won’t be easy considering Justin Verlander would likely start game 5. It’s hard to say game 2 is a must win for the A’s, but with the ridiculous format of the Division Series that gives the lower seed the first two home games, the A’s are under a lot of pressure to win tomorrow. This team has constantly thrived under pressure, they’ve faced no bigger pressure than this though, it’ll take a team with the character of the Oakland Athletics to overcome this “advantage.”