Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 7:00 PM
As promised, we’re getting caught up with the baseball playoffs in our Tuesday and Wednesday reports this week in the handicapping NOTEBOOK. We’ll talk about Game Four of the American League series matching Oakland and Detroit in today’s report, before transitioning to National League notes on Wednesday. Our big game football previews will resume on Thursday.
Many in the sports world are STUNNED that the A’s have managed a 2-1 series lead, positioning themselves to either win the best-of-five series this afternoon in the Motor City, or Thursday Night back in the Bay Area. After all:
*Detroit had fantastic front end pitching…and both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander through gems!
*Detroit had a strong offense…which is usually lethal in the playoffs when combined with great front-end pitching.
*Oakland’s famed “Moneyball” approach is supposedly only good in the regular season, because “that stuff doesn’t work” come playoff time.
Well, Oakland hasn’t advanced yet. They will still be at a disadvantage on the mound in what’s left of the series. And, the franchise has gotten close to scoring huge series wins before without being able to seal the deal. What’s clear so far is:
*Oakland isn’t afraid of anybody, which means they didn’t show up just assuming they were going to lose again.
*Oakland has some pitching too! Sonny Gray matched Verlander pitch for pitch in Saturday’s 1-0 thriller.
*Oakland’s offense AWAY FROM HOME is still much better than people realized. Anibel Sanchez found out about that the hard way in the first five innings Monday. The A’s have a lot of pop. It’s hidden because they play half their home games in a great pitcher’s park…and because the mainstream media is still 30 years behind analytics when it comes to making park adjustments.
Let’s see what Game Four looks like Tuesday afternoon…
OAKLAND at DETROIT (Game 4)
5:07 p.m. ET on TBS
Note that this starting time will make visibility tough for hitters. Yesterday’s game ended before this one begins…and there wasn’t much offense in the last few innings on Monday.
THE SERIES SO FAR
Game One: Detroit 3, Oakland 2 (Scherzer over Colon)
Game Two: Oakland 1, Detroit 0 (Gray over Verlander)
Game Three: Oakland 6, Detroit 3 (Parker over Sanchez)
That’s a combined run advantage of 12-6 for the A’s. They earned home field advantage in the series because they had a better regular season record. They weren’t betting favorites in Las Vegas though, because the market has respect for frontline pitching AND doesn’t trust the A’s in big games!
Oakland: Straily (10-8, 3.96 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
Detroit: Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Detroit: Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)
We included Scherzer just in case manager Jim Leyland decides to come back with his ace on short rest in desperation mode. Asking both Scherzer and Verlander to go “old school” wouldn’t at all be out of character for an old-timer like Leyland.
*Fister vs. Straily: Edge to Fister because Straily’s ERA of 3.96 was helped by pitching about half his games in Oakland. Neutralize the pitching environment, and Fister clearly grades out on top.
*Scherzer vs. Straily: Tougher call because you never know for sure how short rest is going to affect a pitcher who isn’t used to it. Plus. Scherzer threw 118 pitches Friday Night, and would be coming back on a Tuesday afternoon (even shorter than short rest!). You assume an edge to Scherzer, but it’s dicey.
Game Five if necessary would be played Thursday Night in Oakland, with either Scherzer or Verlander matched up again against Colon.
JIM HURLEY’S baseball can be purchased all through the postseason right here at the website. Be sure you take care of business EARLY when there are day games! If you have any questions about October packages, talk to the NETWORK representative in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office during normal weekday business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you tomorrow to get caught up in the National League. Then it’s back to big game football previews when gridiron action resumes on Thursday. This week’s preview schedule:
Thursday: NY Giants at Chicago on the NFL Network
Friday: early look at Missouri at Georgia in an SEC battle of ranked teams
Saturday: preview of prime time showdown matching Texas A&M and Ole Miss
Sunday: Washington at Dallas on NBC
Monday: Indianapolis at San Diego on ESPN
The MLB playoffs have already been something special. When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!