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HR: DET- None OAK- Y.Cespedes (1)
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American League Division Series Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, October 4th (All times Eastern)

Detroit Tigers (0-0) at Oakland Athletics (0-0), 9:37 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90) Oakland - Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.57)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Tigers' quest toward another pennant begins the same way it did a year ago, with a best-of-five American League Division Series against the Oakland Athletics.

The A's gave Detroit all it could handle last year, as the Tigers needed to win a decisive fifth game at O.co Coliseum to advance to the ALCS, where they swept the New York Yankees.

Of course, Detroit's run ended in the World Series, as it was swept in four games by the San Francisco Giants.

Oakland may have been content with just making the playoffs last season, but it's a different story this year for the A's, who enter the postseason with perhaps the most complete team on the American League side.

"We were just riding that emotion and certainly happy to be where we were," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "But the mindset was different this spring; the expectations were different."

Last year, of course, the Athletics needed to win their final six games - including a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers to close the regular season - to claim their first American League West title since 2006.

Well, Oakland proved that last year was no fluke, as it has spent most of the season at or near the top of the division. And thanks to another September swoon from Texas, it ran away with its second straight division title and finished the year 96-66.

This A's lineup resembles more of the late 80's power teams in Oakland at the plate without the star power of a Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire, of course, as these A's are led by a cast of virtual unknowns, including MVP candidate Josh Donaldson.

Oakland's 186 homers were the third best in baseball, but the team managed to hit at just a .254 clip, while striking out 1,178 times.

The A's pitching staff was fronted by former AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon, who will be on the hill Friday. Colon turned back the clock to win 18 games this season and posted a 2.65 ERA, second only in the AL to the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez (2.57).

Colon, of course, did not pitch in last year's ALDS, as he was serving a 50- game ban for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Detroit, meanwhile, had no hangover from its trip to the Fall Classic, as it went 93-69 to win a third straight AL Central crown thanks to another amazing campaign from Miguel Cabrera, and despite a wildly inconsistent season from ace Justin Verlander.

While Verlander struggled, the rest of the staff thrived, specifically Game 1 starter Max Scherzer, who enjoyed the best year of his career, as he won an MLB-best 21 games, while pitching to a 2.90 ERA and striking out 240 batters over a career-high 214 innings.

In Verlander, Scherzer and Sanchez the Tigers produced three 200-strikeout pitchers on the same team for just the third time in history, the first since the 1969 Astros.

Amazingly, the Tigers starting staff led the AL in almost every major category in spite of Verlander, who was only 13-12 and finished the year with his highest ERA (3.46), lowest strikeout rate (23.5 percent) and lowest innings total (218 1/3) since 2008 while battling reduced velocity.

As good as their starting staff may have been, though, any conversation about the Tigers begins and ends with the great Cabrera, who came within an eyelash of a second straight Triple Crown.

Cabrera may have fell short of his remarkable 2012 season, but still hit a career-high .348 to become the first player in more than two decades to win three straight AL batting titles. His 44 home runs were second to the 53 by Baltimore's Chris Davis, and he finished second in RBI, one behind Davis' 138.

He batted .330 last year with 44 homers and 139 RBI.

"I still had a good season," he said. "I have the same numbers I had last year, and we won the division."

Cabrera is the first right-handed batter in either league to win three straight batting titles since Rogers Hornsby's six straight for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1920-25. Cabrera became just the fifth player to win three consecutive AL crowns, joining Nap Lajoie (1901-03), Ty Cobb (1907-09, 1911-15 and 1917-19), Rod Carew (1972-75) and Wade Boggs (1985-88).

Detroit, which lost four of seven games against the A's during the season, has beaten Oakland the last two times these teams have met in the postseason. The A's only win against the Tigers in the playoffs came in the 1972 ALCS, which started a run of three consecutive world titles for Oakland.

10/04 10:25:16 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 0
DUR 1
 
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
12:30pm Today
NCSU
GASO
6:00pm Tonight
DUKE
ELON
 
6:00pm Tonight
UNC
LBRTY
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
8:00pm Tonight
ECU
NCCU
 
Final
PIT 2
CIN 1
Final
BAL 9
MIN 1
Final
TOR 3
NYY 6
Final
TAM 4
BOS 8
Final
NYM 4
PHI 1
Final
ATL 5
MIA 2
Final
KAN 1
CLE 6
Final
CWS 1
DET 7
Final
HOU 6
TEX 13
Final
STL 2
CHC 7
Final
ARI 5
COL 2
Final
ANA 4
OAK 0
Final
SDP 3
LOS 2
Final
SEA 3
WAS 8
Final
SFG 13
MIL 2
1:07pm Today
TOR
NYY
 
1:10pm Today
CWS
DET
 
2:15pm Today
STL
CHC
 
4:05pm Today
PIT
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
BAL
MIN
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
BOS
 
7:10pm Tonight
KAN
CLE
 
7:10pm Tonight
CWS
DET
 
7:10pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
PHI
 
7:10pm Tonight
HOU
TEX
 
8:10pm Tonight
ARI
COL
 
8:15pm Tonight
STL
CHC
 
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
LOS
 
9:05pm Tonight
SFG
MIL
 
9:05pm Tonight
ANA
OAK
 
9:10pm Tonight
SEA
WAS
 
Final
UCONN 10
BYU 35
Final
WKENT 59
BGU 31
Final
MSU 45
JVST 7
Final
COL 17
COLST 31
Final
HOU 7
TXSANANTO 27
Final
ARZ 58
UNLV 13
8:30am Today
UCF
PSU
12:00pm Today
MICH
APPST
12:00pm Today
NAVY
OSU
12:00pm Today
UAB
TROY
12:00pm Today
UVA
UCLA
12:00pm Today
PURD
WMICH
12:30pm Today
NCSU
GASO
3:00pm Today
UMASS
BC
3:30pm Today
NW
CAL
3:30pm Today
NEB
FATL
3:30pm Today
UMO
MARS
3:30pm Today
ND
RICE
3:30pm Today
MIZZ
SDST
3:30pm Today
ALA
WVU
4:00pm Today
AUB
ARK
4:00pm Today
STAN
UCD
5:30pm Tonight
UGA
CLEM
6:00pm Tonight
UNC
LBRTY
6:00pm Tonight
KSU
OHIO
7:00pm Tonight
UF
IDAHO
7:00pm Tonight
OKLA
LATU
7:10pm Tonight
KST
SAUST
7:30pm Tonight
USC
FRES
7:30pm Tonight
MSST
SMISS
8:00pm Tonight
OKST
FSU
8:00pm Tonight
TEX
UNT
8:00pm Tonight
NMU
UTEP
9:00pm Tonight
LSU
WISC
10:30pm Tonight
OREG
SD
10:30pm Tonight
HAW
WASH
Final
NOR 0
DUR 1
 
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
6:00pm Tonight
DUKE
ELON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ECU
NCCU