October 4th, 2013
We already knew that Andy Dirks, 4-for-8 with a home run off Bartolo Colon, was going to start over Jhonny Peralta in left field. What we didn’t know was that Alex Avila, 4-for-8 with two home runs off Colon, was going to move up to sixth. Jim Leyland said pregame the matchup was the main reason behind the move. No idea whether it would make Bob Melvin think twice about walking Victor Martinez in a big situation with first base open, but we’ll see. If he does that, then brings in a lefty to face Avila, I would expect Leyland would leave Avila in to face the southpaw rather than pinch-hit with Brayan Pena. But we’ll see.
Speaking of Melvin, he has loaded his lineup with left-handed batters and switch-hitters against Scherzer. The only two right-handed hitters in the lineup are tough ones in Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes. So the burden is on Scherzer to try to get some outs with his curveball, a pitch that did not get the results he wanted in his two regular-season matchups against the A’s. For more on that, you can check out my blog spot from earlier today on 5 Keys for Scherzer.
TIGERS (career numbers off Colon)
- Austin Jackson, CF (4-for-14, walk, 5 K’s)
- Torii Hunter, RF (14-for-58, 2 HR, 4 walks, 10 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B (8-for-16, 2 K’s)
- Prince Fielder, 1B (4-for-7, HR)
- Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-22, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
- Alex Avila, C (4-for-8, 2 HR)
- Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-7)
- Andy Dirks, LF (4-for-8, HR)
- Jose Iglesias (0-for-2)
P: Max Scherzer
ATHLETICS (career numbers off Scherzer)
- Coco Crisp, CF (4-for-14, 4 K’s)
- Jed Lowrie, SS (2-for-6, HR, K)
- Josh Donaldson, 3B (1-for-8, 3 K’s)
- Brandon Moss, DH (3-for-13, HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-4, 2 walks, K)
- Josh Reddick, RF (4-for-10, 5 K’s)
- Stephen Vogt, C (1-for-2)
- Daric Barton, 1B (0-for-4, 3 K’s)
- Eric Sogard, 2B (3-for-5)
P: Bartolo Colon
For those who have been clamoring for start times for the two games in Detroit, they’re finally out. In the case of Game 4, however, you’re going to have to be flexible.
Game 3 on Monday is set. That’ll be at 1:07pm ET, about 40 hours after the first pitch for Game 2 in Oakland. Since Game 3 is the early game, it’ll also be on MLB Network, much like Game 2 of last year’s series was.
Game 4 on Tuesday is tentatively set for a 5:07pm ET unless the Red Sox-Rays series is over by then. If that’s the case, the game would move to a 7:07pm start. So you might not know for sure what time the game starts until Game 3 of the Red Sox-Rays series is over Monday night.
If Tigers-A’s goes to Game 5, it’s again a conditional start, though not as big of a difference. If the Red Sox-Rays series goes five games, Tigers-A’s will be the late game, a 9:07pm ET start on Thursday. If the Tigers and A’s are the only game that night, it moves back to an 8:07pm ET start.
So to recap …
- A’s-Tigers, Game 3, 1:07pm, MLB Network
- Cards-Pirates, Game 4, 3:07 (or 3:37 if Braves-Dodgers is over), TBS
- Red Sox-Rays, Game 3, 6:07 (or 7:07 if Braves-Dodgers is over), TBS
- Braves-Dodgers, Game 4, 9:37, TBS
- A’s-Tigers, Game 4, 5:07pm (or 7:07 if Rays-Red Sox is over), TBS
- Red Sox-Rays, Game 4, 8:37, TBS
- Pirates-Cardinals, Game 5, 5:07pm (or 8:07), TBS
- Dodgers-Braves, Game 5, 8:37, TBS
- Rays-Red Sox, Game 5, 5:37 (or 8:07 if Tigers-A’s is over), TBS
- Tigers-A’s, Game 5, 9:07 (or 8:07 if Rays-Red Sox is over), TBS
While you’re waiting for the game tonight, let’s consider the dichotomy of Max Scherzer’s two meetings with the A’s this season, and what it means for his keys this evening to start off the AL Division Series.
Both outings, April 12 at Oakland (his second start of the season) and August 29 at Comerica Park, saw A’s hitters swinging early and often against him. In the first outing, that aggressive approach resulted in 11 strikeouts over six innings. In August, is resulted in two home runs and five earned runs over five innings, in which he threw 101 pitches.
What’s the difference, and what’s to watch from him tonight. Here’s a handful of things:
- Foul balls: The A’s fouled off 23 pitches from him over those five innings in August, nearly triple their total of swings and misses (eight). That’s how Scherzer ended up with more than 100 pitches in just five innings for the only time all season. A lot of those were fastballs, which is still the base for Scherzer’s arsenal. If the A’s are fouling off a ton of those early, he’s going to have to make an adjustment.
- Curveballs: Neither outing saw Scherzer throw his curve effectively for strikes. Out of the seven he threw in April, only one was a strike, and that was a foul ball. He threw 13 in August, five for strikes, but no whiffs, four foul balls, and one put in play for a hit. It’ll be interesting to see how many he throws this time, and how that mix changes the second time through the order.
- First-inning pitch count: The A’s milked 25 pitches out of him in the opening inning in April, and 29 in August. In both cases, he only walked one batter in the first inning. In neither outing did he get through an inning in 10 pitches or less, so it’s going to be very difficult for him to get his pitch count back in order after a long inning.
- Fastball command: In the August matchup, Scherzer threw 43 of his 56 pitches for strikes, 34 of those inducing swings. That’s better than a 75% strike rate. However, he got more balls put in play than hits.
- Extra-base hits: Six of the eight hits off Scherzer in the August game went for extra bases. Three of the five hits off Scherzer in the April meeting did, too.