Thursday, October 10, 2013

What To Expect Out Of Game 5 Of The ALDS

I'm not here to talk about Game 4 of the ALDS between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics, or the "controversial" call that occurred during that game (it was a home run). What I'm hear to talk about is the most important game of the season for these two teams tonight. It's what these players all live for; do-or-die, win or go home. These kind of games have the ability to create heroes (Reggie Jackson), but they can just as quickly make you a goat (Bill Buckner).

We've seen how the rest of this series has went; a few low-scoring games, followed up by an offensive explosion by both teams in Game 4. With the series at stake, and the pitchers who are going for each team, I don't think there's any way that this game turns into a battle of home runs, no matter how highly paid the Detroit offense as a whole is.

I don't know about you, but I'll just as soon be excited to watch a pitcher's duel between two guys who can carve up opposing lineups as much as I would like to see a slugfest. It might just be the fact that I pitched my whole life (big deal, right?), but that kind of game just really appeals to me.
Fortunately for me, that's what we're going to see, as Oakland sends out rookie Sonny Gray to the mound. Gray, a virtual unknown to most outside of the Bay Area going into Game 2, really had his coming-out party during this series.

He picked apart a lethal Detroit lineup over 8 innings, and didn't show any signs of being a rookie. The amount of composure, as well as the command that he showed, was well beyond his years, to say the least. Many, including even the announcers, expected the rookie to fold under the immense pressure of the playoffs, but that was not the case.

It would be unreasonable to expect another performance like that, but if any rookie could do it, it'd be Gray. As long as he has the same mindset that he did in Game 2, he should be just fine. It's going to be important for him to work the corners like he did in his previous start, too, because we all know what the Tigers sluggers can do.
To match up with Gray, the Tigers will send former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander to the hill. Regardless of how good of a year Max Scherzer had, I don't think there's anyone that you'd want pitching in this game other than JV. Over the past two seasons, he has absolutely baffled the A's in the postseason, and I don't expect that to stop now.

Many thought he had a mediocre year this season, but that was just not the case. No, he wasn't his usual self, but he was still a front of the rotation starter, and he really found his groove late in the year. He's carried that into the playoffs, where he tossed 7 innings of scoreless ball against Gray in Game 2. He had his curve going, and if he does in Game 5, the A's will be lucky to get a run.

Regardless of the outcome, this is going to be a low scoring affair. The Tigers showed that their high-powered offense still had some life to it with their 8-run showing in Game 4, so for that reason (along with Verlander being on the bump), I expect this one to be a Detroit victory.

Thanks for reading.

Follow Brian Rzeppa on Twitter, and check out his NBA work at The League News.

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