The fifth and deciding game of the American League Division Series between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics takes place Thursday night. The game is scheduled for a 9:37 pm start time and it will be televised nationally on TNT. Currently the odds for the game have the Tigers as small favorites.
The Tigers won the opening two games of the series over the Athletics in Comerica Park, but have now dropped the last two games in California. Oakland has all the momentum in the world, having picked up a solid 2-0 win in the third game of the series and a come from behind 4-3 win last night that saw the Athletics score three runs in the ninth of Detroit closer Jose Valverde.
Now the stage has been set for the fifth and final game of the ALDS. Detroit hasn't been a good team on the road at all this season, dropping the two games in this series and finishing five games below the .500 mark during the regular season. Oakland got a huge ninth inning last night and now has a major advantage in momentum, which seems to be an impressive factor in the MLB post season.
Detroit turns to ace and arguably the best pitcher in baseball with Justin Verlander. Including the postseason, Verlander has posted a 0.77 ERA in winning five straight starts with 38 strikeouts over 35 innings. He picked up a win in the opening game of this series, shutting down the Athletic hitters to the tune of three hits and 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work. Now, however, the Athletics know what to expect and have seen what Verlander has to offer in tonight's game. Verlander is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three starts against the Athletics this year.
The Tigers ace has pitched in big games before in his career, but this one is going to be the most important to date because it happens to be the most recent. "I'm going to try to treat it like another start, kind of like the last start as much as I can," Verlander said. "Obviously it's a big game for us. We allowed ourselves to be in this position, we know it's not easy to win here. We put ourselves in position to win one."
Jarrod Parker (0-1, 2.84) gets the start for the Athletics tonight. He threw well in the opener of the series, but wasn't able to pick up the victory. He finished by throwing 6 1/3 innings in that game. He was able to shut down the bigtime Tiger hitters in the opener. Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who combined to go 0 for 5 with one walk in the opening game, need to have big games for the Tigers tonight.
Oakland was dead in the water after losing two games in Detroit but has come back to swing the momentum in this series and now can win it at home. They're going to be an aggressive team against Verlander tonight, but in the end we think the Tigers can get it done. The whole Moneyball situation has taken the world by storm around these times of year and the Athletics have played well in this series. However, with the best pitcher in baseball on the mound for Detroit, it could be a tough uphill battle for Oakland tonight.
Free Pick: Tigers 4, Athletics 1
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