A’s rookie Parker to face star-laden Tigers
One team has the reigning MVP and another player who just won
the Triple Crown.
The Oakland Athletics will try to counter all that by sending –
who else? – a rookie to the mound.
”We’ve been the `David’ all year,” A’s right-hander Jarrod
Parker said. ”I think obviously it’s a role and an image that
we’ve kind of taken on and been able to embrace and it’s fun.”
Parker will start against Detroit ace Justin Verlander in Game 1
of the division series Saturday night. The AL Central-champion
Tigers are making their second straight playoff appearance, but
Oakland emerged as one of the game’s biggest surprises by winning
the AL West.
Now the A’s have to contend with Triple Crown winner Miguel
Cabrera – the Detroit third baseman who might win the American
League MVP after Verlander took the award last year.
”We know we’ve got a great ballclub. We know what we have in
the clubhouse,” Cabrera said. ”We know we’re going to face a very
hot team like Oakland. They play unbelievable baseball right
Cabrera hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs to become the
first Triple Crown winner since 1967. But he wasn’t the only big
story in the closing days of the regular season. The A’s rallied to
win the AL West, edging Texas by one game when they beat the
Rangers on the final day.
Not bad for a team that had the lowest opening day payroll in
the majors. Oakland got 56 homers and 54 wins from a cast of
rookies that included Parker (13-8) and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Rookie left-hander Tommy Milone, who matched Parker with 13 wins,
is slated to start Game 2.
”Obviously with Verlander going Game 1, you’ve got to be on
your game,” Parker said. ”We have a lot of left-handed bats that
are hot right now, and I think that’s one thing we’ve got going for
Outfielder Josh Reddick, one of Oakland’s left-handed hitters,
hit 32 home runs this year.
The series will start with two games in Detroit, where the
weather can be a factor this time of year. In 2006, the Tigers
swept the A’s in the AL championship series, and there were snow
flurries at Comerica on a workout day between games. It rained a
bit Friday, but the forecast for Saturday looked clear.
That was good news for Verlander (17-8), the powerful
right-hander who had two playoff starts cut short by rain last
”I saw a little bit of rain today, but I saw actually on my
Twitter of all places that it’s not – no rain in the forecast for
tomorrow,” Verlander said.
Verlander led the majors in strikeouts this year, and Max
Scherzer – Detroit’s Game 4 starter – finished second. That could
be an asset for the Tigers, especially since Oakland struck out
more than any other team. Detroit hasn’t been very good defensively
in 2012, but if the A’s aren’t making consistent contact, it might
The Tigers are expected to start Doug Fister in Game 2, followed
by Anibal Sanchez. Scherzer, who was bothered by a right shoulder
issue down the stretch, threw four innings in the regular-season
finale Wednesday – after twisting his right ankle two nights
earlier in the celebration after Detroit clinched the division. The
Tigers are content to wait until Game 4 to start him.
”The Scherzer situation – coming off a little bit of the ankle
situation and the shoulder – we decided that would be the best way
to go,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ”It would also – just
by pitching him, Sanchez in front of Scherzer – would keep Sanchez
from keeping off too long.”
The A’s begin the postseason days after the death of reliever
Pat Neshek’s newborn son. Neshek is back with the team for this
”As soon as I got out there and started playing catch, it takes
your mind off all the bad stuff,” Neshek told reporters. ”It’s a
good way of healing. . I don’t think we’ll ever get over it, but
this is a good way to put the pieces back together.”