ALDS Recap: A's Squander Everything As Tigers Take Game 4
Sure I understand that the scoreboard in Comerica Park reads 8-6, but that doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story of Tuesday’s game.
No, Game 4 can not be described in numbers but rather in a single word: squandered.
The A’s squandered a bizarre decision by Detroit manager Jim Leyland to use Doug Fister instead of Game 1 hero Max Scherzer on the mound.
The A’s squandered a 3-0 lead.
The A’s shockingly squandered a bases loaded-no outs scenario in the 8th inning, down 5-4.
The A’s squandered their best chance at finally advancing to the ALCS.
The A’s squandered their season.
And I understand what some of you optimist Oakland fans are thinking: “What are you talking about? We still have Game 5!”
I have one very close friend who is an absolute die-hard Oakland Athletics fan. He even looks like a skinnier version of Jonah Hill’s character from Moneyball, but more Jewish. The two of us have been texting seemingly since late July about the A’s' playoff run - he goes to school in North Carolina.
In the 8th inning, with the A’s down 8-4, the topic of the inevitable Game 5 came up.
“I’m so scared,” he said, fearing the second straight year of a do-or-die Game 5. To which I promptly responded: “I’m not going to say it but we both know.”
“Ok,” he added.
We both know that Justin Verlander is laughing right now at the possibility of ending Oakland’s dream season at their home field for the second straight year in a heartbreaking Game 5, and we both know that, for all intents and purposes, this season is most likely over.
The second I woke up this morning and saw a text confirming Doug Fister would be Detroit’s Game 4 starter, I had two thoughts:
1. I can’t believe someone is still letting Jim Leyland manage a team. He’s at least 140 years old. In college, his freshman roommate was Abraham Lincoln.
2. Doug Fister?! Awesome! I should book my ticket to Boston/Tampa Bay right now!
And for a couple of innings things were looking pretty good! Through four, Oakland’s starter, Dan Straily, was holding the Tigers' explosive offense at bay, and getting just enough run support to actually make A’s fans everywhere breathe a little.
That relief quickly turned into angst in the bottom of the 5th when Jhonny Peralta promptly homered to deep left, tying things up at 4. Oakland rebounded with a Coco Crisp RBI single in the 7th to put them up 4-3, but Victor Martinez responded with a home run of his own and the Tigers never looked back. Detroit took a 5-4 lead off of an Austin Jackson single before adding three more in the 8th.
Frustration for the A’s reached an all-time high in the 8th, as Oakland’s offense seemed primed for a big inning, loading the bases with no one out against Scherzer who had come on in the 7th in relief for the Tigers.
Unfortunately the artist formerly known as Josh Reddick struck out, giving Scherzer a chance to calm his nerves and get the next two men out in order.
The win for the Tigers did not come without a bit of unwanted drama as Martinez’s solo shot in the 7th was contested by Oakland in the name of fan-interference. At least two spectators reached out to grab the ball, preventing Reddick from making a play on it. The play was reviewed by the umpires and the home run was upheld, much to the dismay of Crisp and Reddick, who claimed to have a clearer angle of the play.
For manager Bob Melvin, the name of the game on Thursday will be making his team believe they can beat Justin Verlander twice in 5 games. The A’s will be tossing Game 1 starter/goat Bartolo Colon. Colon actually went toe-to-toe with Scherzer in the opening contest of the series from the second inning onwards. Unfortunately for his team, in that first inning he let the Tigers put up a quick 3-spot, and that was enough for them to take a 1-0 series advantage.
If there is a small sliver of hope for Oakland, it is the hope that the guy playing in Verlander’s body this regular season will show up on Thursday and not the Oakland playoff-killer that shut down the A’s in Game 2.
Detroit, on the other had, understands that with Verlander on the mound (they’re assuming good Verlander pitches), they need maybe two runs of support for him, and they should be able to find it with an offense as dynamic as theirs.
Martinez and Peralta are both hitting well above .300 in this series, and if either Tiger superstar (Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder) has a superstar-esque game, then the Tigers should easily return to the ALCS this weekend.
So the stage is set. Verlander vs Colon. Detroit vs. Choakland (funny right? I thought so too). Game 5 will be at 6:07 P.M. (Side note: that extra 7 minutes is a lifesaver for all of America. It’s enough time to sit down for the game at 6 and realize you have to go to the bathroom/buy a birthday present for your mom/make a sandwich and have enough time to accomplish all of those tasks and more before the actual game starts. Thanks Uncle Bud!) on TBS, with the winner advancing to the AL Championship Series.
Reach Staff Writer Saagar Sarin here.