The 2012 ALDS series between the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers will wrap up on Thursday night at the O.co Coliseum with Game 5.
The home team has won all four of the games in this series, but Justin Verlander is going to be the favorite to make that trend stop to end this series. Though the truth of the matter is that Oakland had the home field advantage in this series, it would have felt like an epic collapse after going up 2-0 against the A’s. If Verlander was really a Cy Young winner this year, he’ll prove it by winning this game. Sure, there is no bearing on this game in the Cy Young race, but Verlander clearly has to be the man to win this game. The Detroit bullpen melted down last night, and that means that Verlander is going to be called upon to go the distance. He isn’t leaving this game under virtually any circumstance as long as he is pitching well, especially after throwing 121 pitches five days ago in Game 1 of the ALDS. The question is whether the bats are going to ultimately do enough to take down the Oakland pitching. Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder went hitless in Game 4, and they still only have three hits between them in the first four games of the playoffs.
Last week, the Athletics came to the O.co Coliseum knowing that they weren’t even in the playoffs quite yet. They knew that they needed to win at least one game to get into the second season, and they knew that they needed to sweep the Texas Rangers to win the AL West. That’s exactly what they did. When they came back here this week after two bad days in Motown, the task was the same. A three-game sweep was the only thing that would do. This is the toughest of the tough battles for sure, knowing that Verlander is going to be on the bump to face the Athletics in this one. Jarrod Parker is going to be the man on the bump in this one, and he was a bit of a tough luck loser in the game. He threw 6.1 innings and threw 96 pitches, allowing three runs, two of which were earned (albeit, the third run scored because of his own error), to go with seven hits and a walk. He struck out five in his first start in the playoffs in his career.
The A’s have all of the confidence in the world, and they have home field advantage, but can they really beat Verlander in this spot? It really feels like angels have been watching over this team, between Coco Crisp’s miracle catch to the three-run rally in the ninth against the Tigers yesterday. We just don’t believe in miracles in betting. Verlander should win this game by going the distance. Detroit 4 – Oakland 2