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American League Division Series Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, October 5th (All times Eastern)

Detroit Tigers (1-0) at Oakland Athletics (0-1), 9:07 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46) Oakland - Sonny Gray (5-3, 2.67)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Justin Verlander can put a season's worth of frustration behind him on Saturday, as he tries to give the Detroit Tigers a commanding two games to none lead over the Oakland Athletics in the best-of-five American League Division Series at O.co Coliseum.

Verlander nowhere near resembled the pitcher who not only won an AL Cy Young back in 2011, but was also the league's MVP. The hard-throwing righty never got into a groove and ended the year 13-12 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.

"I honestly don't look at myself any differently. We aren't robots, things aren't always perfect, and this is a season that opened my eyes to that fact," said Verlander, who didn't allow a run over his last two starts and pitched to a 2.27 ERA in September. "The last couple of years came pretty easy to me, right from the Spring Training, from the jump street, it was like, 'OK, my pitches are good, go from here.'

"This year wasn't like that. I would fix something and that would cause a kink in the chain, and I would fix that. It was a matter of getting myself to where I need to do be. It was a year-long battle. I'm not going to lie. This is something I worked on from early in the season until a couple of weeks ago, and I felt like the last couple of starts were where I needed to be. It's funny that it took all year, but hopefully I figured it out and peaking at the right time."

Verlander, of course, tossed a shutout in Game 5 versus the A's last year in the ALDS, but he has been pretty pedestrian in the postseason, pitching to a 4.22 ERA in 12 starts.

Even with the off year from Verlander, the Tigers starting staff still led the AL in almost every major category. A big reason for that was the play of Max Scherzer, who put forth a Cy Young caliber season of his own with a major league-best 21 wins.

Scherzer was again on the mark in Game 1 on Friday, as he allowed two runs and struck out 11 over seven innings in Detroit's 3-2 win.

Miguel Cabrera's RBI single highlighted Detroit's three-run first, which was more than enough cushion for the 21-game winner Scherzer (1-0), who surrendered just three hits.

"I thought Scherzer was pretty well locked in all night, he was awful determined," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I think he was thrilled to get Game 1, I think it meant a lot to him."

Victor Martinez tallied two hits and a run scored, while Alex Avila added a pair of hits and an RBI for the defending AL-champion Tigers.

Teams have gone up 2-0 in the ALDS 22 times and advanced in 18 of them.

Bartolo Colon (0-1), whose 18 regular-season wins were second-best in the AL, yielded three runs on 10 hits over six innings. Colon never got a chance to pitch in last year's ALDS. He served a 50-game ban for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Yoenis Cespedes smacked a two-run homer and a triple, accounting for two of Oakland's three hits against Scherzer. The A's struck out 16 times.

On Saturday the A's will turn to rookie right-hander Sonny Gray, who was terrific down the stretch. Gray was 5-3 overall on the season, but 3-1 in September with a 2.79 ERA in five starts.

"It's something you really look forward to, growing up, and hopefully someday you get a chance to do it," Gray said. "Fortunately for me, this is my second, maybe third month in the big leagues and I'm getting to start a playoff game. There are a lot of guys in this game who said they wished they'd gotten the opportunity and they just haven't been on a playoff team. I'm very fortunate and I'm just going to try and go out there and make the most of it."

Gray has never faced the Tigers, but pitched to a 1.90 ERA in six home starts and struck out 38 batters over 40 2/3 innings of those outings.

"The problem with Sonny Gray," said Leyland, "is we don't know much about him, other than what we've seen on TV."

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.

Game 3 will be in Detroit on Monday.

10/05 10:22:22 ET

  • ACC: North Carolina at Virginia

    Tomorrow at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Seattle at Carolina

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Indianapolis at Pittsburgh

    Sunday at 4:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Logan Zone with Steve Logan

    Tomorrow at 10:00 am on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ECU 31
UCONN 21
Final
CHA 79
IND 88
Final
CAL 5
CAR 0
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
CAR
 
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
Final
CHA 79
IND 88
Final
DET 109
PHI 103
Final
NOP 88
DAL 85
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
DAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
NYK
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
MIA
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
SAN
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
PHO
 
10:00pm Tonight
LAL
SAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
DEN
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
POR
 
Final
ECU 31
UCONN 21
Final
VT 6
MIAMI 30
7:00pm Tonight
CIN
SFLA
7:30pm Tonight
SALABAMA
TROY
9:00pm Tonight
BSU
BYU
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
OREG
Final
BOS 2
NYI 3
Final
DET 4
PIT 3
Final
MIN 2
ARI 0
Final
NAS 3
CHI 2
Final
STL 1
VAN 4
Final
CAL 5
CAR 0
Final
LOS 2
BUF 0
Final
SJS 4
CLB 5
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
TAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
VAN
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
CAR
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CLB
 
Final
DEN 35
SDC 21