Date/Time: October 10th, 8:00 PM ET
Probable Starters: Verlander (Detroit) vs. Gray (Oakland)
Moneyline: Tigers -106
The Boston Red Sox are watching and waiting, and they’ll be intently trying to figure out who is going to take down the last spot in the ALCS. The Sox will face off with the winner of the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics, who will meet in Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday night.
If there is one man that you want to pitch a game for your life, that man might be RHP Justin Verlander. Verlander is going to get the ball again in this one, and that was a decision that was made quite easy by the fact that RHP Max Scherzer pitched in relief in Game 4 to get out of a jam that helped save the series. In three games over the course of the last two seasons against these A’s, Verlander has pitched 23 innings. He has allowed one run on just 11 hits with 33 strikeouts and five walks. It doesn’t get a whole heck of a lot better than that. Verlander had his issues all season long, and he barely finished with a winning record as a result. However, this is playoff time, and in the playoffs, the righty has been dominating. There’s no reason to believe that won’t continue in this one. The question? Will the offense show up again like it did on Tuesday night, or is it going to be another game where Verlander pitches seven scoreless innings and leaves without his team scoring a run?
The A’s know that this was the spot they were in last year, only to get shutout by Verlander. That won’t suffice in this one, as they really need to get over the hump. They’re just 1-11 in their last 12 games where they could eliminate foes, and they really need to mentally get past all of that if they are ever going to have a shot of the ultimate goal of winning the World Series. RHP Bartolo Colon is one of the oldest players in all of baseball, and he was an 18-game winner this past season. However, he is being bypassed in the rotation for RHP Sonny Gray, a rookie and one of the youngest players on one of the youngest teams in the game. Gray though, was clearly the better of these two pitchers in the first two games of this series. Colon got into trouble in the first inning of Game 1 and the team never got those three runs back, but the rookie threw eight shutout innings and ultimately led the team to victory. Detroit’s batters were clearly baffled by what Gray brought to the table, and Manager Bob Melvin is hoping that continues on Thursday night as well.
Detroit’s offense has awoken, and that’s bad news for the rest of baseball. Sometimes home and away doesn’t matter. Sometimes records don’t matter. Sometimes you just need one man to pitch one heck of a game. Verlander has proven that he can do that, as he threw a four-hit shutout in this exact same spot last season, and we have to think that he can do it again in this one as well.
Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics Pick: Detroit Tigers -106
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.