The Oakland Athletics challenge the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Saturday night at Comerica Park.
Detroit rode the blistering bat of baseball’s newest Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the arm of Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander to beat out the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central title.
Oakland made their way into the playoffs when it capitalized on the Texas Rangers collapse and captured their first AL West crown since 2006 on the final day of the season. And they did it with rookies and the second lowest payroll in the majors.
Rookie starter Jarrod Parker will start for the A’s having won two of his last three starts, and garners a 13-8 record and a 3.47 ERA in the regular season.
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes headlines Oakland’s young lineup with a team-leading .292 average, and third-year right fielder Josh Reddick hammered 32 homeruns on the season.
Verlander didn’t repeat the stunning performance of 2011 that earned him the AL MVP, but he was still a dominant 17-8, with 239 strikeouts and a 2.64 ERA.
En route to the Triple Crown, Cabrera hit .330 with a career-high 44 homeruns and 139 RBIs, and is in contention for the league MVP.
Prediction: Oakland is the hottest team in baseball and maybe the best story heading into the playoffs, while Cabrera put on a show throughout the season with his historical feat and it should carry over throughout the postseason. The A’s may learn it is difficult to rely on rookie pitching in the playoffs as Detroit should take the opener behind a top performance by Verlander.
Predicted Score: Detroit 4, Oakland 3