ALDS GAME 5: DETROIT TIGERS at OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Series: Tied 2-2
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland
Gametime: 8 p.m.
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF
Starting pitchers: DET RHP Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46) vs. OAK RHP Sonny Gray (5-3, 2.67)
It would be tough to imagine a more-compelling batch of Division Series than what has taken place over the last week, so it’s only fitting that we get one more compelling finish to an incredibly compelling series. The Tigers and Athletics have gone back and forth so far in the first four games of their ALDS, with all four games decided by three or fewer runs (two of them decided by only one run).
For the decisive Game 5, we get a rematch of the best game of this series: Game 2, in which Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray traded blows all night, a scoreless game finally won by the A’s in the bottom of the ninth. We know what Verlander brings to the table, especially against this opponent. This is the fourth time he’s faced Oakland in the ALDS in the last 366 days, and in total he has allowed one run on 11 hits over 23 innings, striking out 33 while walking only six. Wow.
That track record may explain why A’s manager Bob Melvin decided to bypass veteran and Game 1 starter Bartolo Colon in favor of Gray. The 23-year-old rookie was brilliant in Game 2 and he has proven mature beyond his years so far. It’s basically the exact same situation the Pirates faced with Gerrit Cole, and though Cole took the loss last night in St. Louis,he certainly pitched well enough to win.
So buckle up and prepare for one more low-scoring, high-drama, do-or-die ballgame to wrap up this fantastic round of Division Series. The Dodgers, Cardinals and Red Sox await the winner to complete baseball’s version of the Final Four. Either of these contestants tonight would be a worthy participant.