ALCS: Tigers & A’s – the season series

A look back at what transpired over the 9 times that these 2 teams hooked up in 2006:

Game Log

Game 1: April 18th – Oakland 4, Detroit 3

This game came one day after Leyland’s blow-up following the last game of the team’s inaugural homestand. The Tigers came out and played hard and Justin Verlander was fairly effective. At least effective enough for Leyland to leave im in for 121 pitches. However 2 Nick Swisher homers and 2 Carlos Guillen errors proved to be the difference. The Tigers record went to 7-7 and it would be the last day they touched .500.

Game 2: April 19th – Detroit 11, Oakland 4

Kenny Rogers loves pitching in Oakland and held the A’s to 3 hits. Meanwhile the Tigers led by 4 hits from Placido Polanco knocked Joe Blanton out in the 5th inning.

Game 3: April 20th – Detroit 4, Oakland 3

If you can trace the success of a season to one game in particular, I’d pick this to be the game that propelled the Tigers. Jeremy Bonderman allowed 3 runs in the first inning, but then matched Barry Zito pitch for pitch through the next 6 innings. With Huston Street unavailable Justin Duchschere was called into to protect a 3-1 lead. The Tigers rallied for 3 runs in the 9th inning. The comeback featured a 15 pitch at-bat by Brandon Inge (the Tigers got a break on a blown check-swing call) that resulted in a walk to load the bases. A Curtis Granderson walk forced home the winning run. Fernando Rodney loaded the bases in the bottom half, but managed to escape with the Tigers first late inning heroic victory.

Game 4: July 3rd – Oakland 5, Detroit 3

Nate Robertson and Joe Blanton started in a game which switched leads 4 times. Jay Payton had the final and decisive blow, a 3-run homer in the 6th inning.

Game 5: July 4th – Oakland 2, Detroit 1

This game took 10 innings before all 3 runs crossed the plate. Justin Verlander and Dan Haren allowed 3 and 4 hits respectively in 7 inning starts. Jay Payton once again was the hero knocking in both runs including the game winner in the bottom of the 10th.

Game 6: July 5th – Detroit 10, Oakland 4

The Tigers turned to Kenny Rogers got avoid the sweep on get-away day. Rogers wasn’t perfect, but definitely good enough to make 10 runs stand up. Craig Monroe and Brnadon Inge went deep while Pudge Rodriguez picked up 3 hits. Kirk Saarloos was knocked out in the 5th inning. Roman Colon went 3 1/3 without allowing a run to pick up the save.

Game 7: July 21st – Detroit 7, Oakland 4

This game was notable in that it marked the return of Dmitri Young to the Tigers roster. Detroit was held scoreless by Danny Haren until the 4th inning when they notched 3 runs, and added 3 more in the 5th. Justin Verlander allowed 1 urn over 6 innings before Roman Colon started to make things interesting in the 9th.

Game 8: July 22nd – Oakland 9, Detroit 5

Things looked great for the Tigers in the first when they plated 5 runs off of Joe Blanton. Unfortunately for Detroit, Zach Miner gave all 5 back in the next inning. Oakland went on to plate 4 more runs while Detroit was held scoreless the rest of the way.

Game 9: July 23rd – Detroit 8, Oakland 4

The Tigers learned that 5 runs in the first didn’t guarantee victory the day before. They came back and scored 6 in the first in this game. Esteban Loaiza was chased after 3 innings and all 8 runs. The A’s tried to chip away off of Nate Robertson, but never got close. Joel Zumaya pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief. Carlos Guillen went 3 for 3 with a walk and was a homer short of the cylce.

The Stats

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Tigers Athletics
Wins 5 4
Runs 52 39
BA .297 .224
OBP .346 .294
SLG .431 .395
HR 5 12
BB/9 3.2 2.4
K/9 5.2 5.1
ERA 4.29 5.18

Tiger Pitchers Versus Oakland Hitters

Justin Verlander easily had the most success against the A’s among Tiger starters. In 3 starts he allowed only 6 runs over 20 innings while fanning 16. Kenny Rogers numbers were rather pedestrian on the whole, but he did pick up 2 wins. Nate Robertson, who rest wise would be the game 1 starter, had the least success with an ERA in excess of 5. Oddly enough, Todd Jones has not faced the A’s this year.

Oakland Pitchers Versus Detroit Hitters

A good deal of the Tigers success against the A’s came at the hands of Joe Blanton who won’t be starting in the ALCS. The Tigers did have some success against Danny Haren and Esteban Loaiza while struggling against Barry Zito. Out of the pen the Tigers managed 1 baserunner and 7 K’s over 4 innings of Huston Street work.

Detroit Hitters Versus Oakland Pitchers

Curtis Granderson, Placio Polanco, and Carlos Guillen did the bulk of the damage against the A’s this season. If Granderson and Polanco can carry it over into the postseason, there could be many RBI opporunitites for Sean Casey and Magglio Ordonez. Marcus Thames struggled going 1 for 26.

Oakland Hitters Versus Tiger Pitchers

Nick Swisher, Milton Bradley, and Bobby Kielty were the trio who had the most success against the Tigers this year. Frank Thomas was held in check, but that was before he turned into an MVP candidate.

20 thoughts on “ALCS: Tigers & A’s – the season series”

  1. Thanks, Bilfer. It will be interesting to see what Leyland does with the rotation. We know he’s made decisions based on small sample sizes before–more so with hitter than pitchers, though.

    These stats would point to skipping Robertson and going Verlander/Rogers in the first two games. This would ensure Rogers pitches both his potential starts in Oakland and would leave Robertson as the only starter to only start once if the series went the full seven.

    I could go either way on this. Stick with the current rotation to keep things on an even keel, or skip Robertson to play the numbers and the hot hands.

  2. Is there any word on expected rotation? I kinda expect Verlander, Rogers, Bondo, Robertson because of the sucess Verlander and Rogers have had against the A’s. But I would be perfectly comfortable with the current rotation and Robertson starting game 1. That’d put Rogers back in Comerica for game 3 where he’s done so well all season.

    For the fun of it, I’m gonna predict this series goes a tough 6 games. These teams are very similar, but I’ll give the edge to Detroit because our starting pitching is deeper.

    A big factor will be keeping the Big Hurt quiet. He is an incredibly smart hitter and easily the west coast’s answer to David Ortiz. Just as mean and scary looking too(his uncannily quiet stance in the batters box would scare the tar out of me if I were on the mound; the guy doesnt flinch). He showed his worth in the Minnesota series, and can turn the tide in any game.

  3. I think they should go Verlander-Rogers-Bonderman-Robertson. That way Bonderman starts the potential Game 7. Otherwise he will only get one start in the series, and I think it’s best having him go 2 than Robertson.

  4. I agree with Cameron. In fact I’d be pretty pissed if Roberson is in the the top 3. He didn’t look stellar in New York and he has had the least amount of luck with the A’s.

    Gm1 (oak): Verlander
    Gm2 (oak) : Rogers
    Gm3: Bonderman
    Gm4: Robertson
    Gm5: Verlander
    Gm6: Rogers
    Gm7: Bonderman

  5. I totally agree that is the optimum rotation. I don’t think Leyland will do it, though, for fear of Nate losing his confidence (and having a long layover). If they keep the current rotation, Bonderman would be available out of the bullpen for Game 7.

    On a related note, was anyone else surprised that Leyland didn’t replace Bonderman with Rodney on Saturday, instead of Walker? Rodney didn’t pitch the entire series–I’m concerned he’s going to be rusty.

  6. Bilfer, wonderful and concise recap. Thanks. I don’t think you will see Verlander pitch in Oakland. Remember his innings are mounting up. I think you will see JL pitch him on Friday to give him a couple extra days off…. Robertson to try to battle Zito, and The Gambler kicking and dealing on Wednesday. Robertson gets the thankless job of facing the opposing teams best pitcher again….

  7. Greg,

    I think Leyland has lost confidence in Rodney. I certainly have. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he walked two or three guys in the KC comeback on the final outing. His control can be off, and everybody knows the Yankees are a patient hitting team. If KC could come back against Rodney, the Yankees could easily put up five or six runs with just a couple walkes, a few hits, and one or two long balls. I think it was important for this team to close the door on the Yankees just like we did. Walker (left hander) was a much better call.

  8. Starting Verlander in game 1, I think would be a big mistake. He just pitched on Thursday afternoon. During the regular season, Wednesday (or even Thursday) would be regular rest for him. He’s way too far into uncharted innings territory to risk throwing him on short rest. I think one of the main reasons he looked so good in Game 2, was the extra rest he got at the end of the season. I think it’s unfortunate for us, but I think we have to keep the same rotation order for this series. Pushing these pitchers out on short rest at this stage of the season, seems like a risk that could backfire. Also, let’s remember that apart from one bad inning, Robertson pitched respectably against the Yankees. He’s no slouch.

  9. Yeah, baby! I just got tickets for Game 1 at the Coliseum in Oakland! Now where am I going to find a Tigers jersey in this town?

  10. Knobler reports that Leyland is going with the same rotation: Robertson, Verlander, Rogers, and Bonderman.

    The more I think about it, the more I like this. Leyland continues to send a message that he’s not going to overreact to the situation–be it bad or good. Rogers has a great record at Oakland, but he’s great at home, too.

    If anything, I’d probably vote for moving Verlander back to game 4, just to continued to rest his arm for the future.

  11. T.Smith – My confidence in Rodney is gone too. He came in against the Royals and got one out in the 6th, but then went beanball, walk, hit to start the 7th. I don’t trust him throwing even 1 pitch in the postseason.

  12. I don’t know how much weight to put into the season series. All these games were played back when the Tigers were still the dominant team in baseball, and the A’s were struggling to find themselves.

    (God, I hate the unbalanced schedule.)

    With the Tigers looking like they’ve regained their form, and the A’s running on all cylinders, I can’t think of two more evenly matched clubs.

  13. I like the rotation as it is. Robertson doesn’t necessarily have to pitch two, I could see Verlander or Kenny going twice, if it goes seven.

    Agreed on Rodney. Too bad too, ’cause he has good stuff. With his considerably unclutch performance down the stretch, he blew his chance to be a significant part of this postseason ‘pen and show other clubs what kind of closer he might make. His bad attitude just bought himself a few more years as a set-up guy (or worse) — exactly the kind of thing that apparently ruins his attitude.

  14. First off, great call on the April 20 Oakland game and its signficance. I’ve felt all along that was the key to the season. It was their first-come-from behind win of the year and, coming on the heels of Leyland’s comments, I think the light bulb went on. That win started a 27-7 run.

    Second, I was never a big Robertson fan because of his second-half collapses, and when he got touched up early this year I was very worried. Now, I have to say he impressed me with his year. He showed guts and no matter if he didn’t have his best stuff would scuffle and keep the Tigers in games. You’ve got to love that.

    Finally, I’ve heard people talk about the Tigers being a team that overachieved this year and that they might not be that good. I fell into the group that at least was in the “overachieved” category. Now, that I’ve thought about it, I’m not so sure. Here is why: Who on the Tigers had a career year? Usually teams that are one-hit wonders or overachievers have guys that played out of their minds for that one season.

    OK, maybe Verlander gave us a year that we shouldn’t rightly expect from a rookie, but it is the type of year that was expected of him down the road. Rodney — who worries me too — might have pitched above his head for most of the year. But really, who else had a year that you wouldn’t normally expect? In fact, in many cases, you could argue a lot of guys are capable of better seasons. So, I guess in that way, they overachieved by having the result exceed their play. The whole was greater than the parts. But I see no reason to believe this is a one-year deal.

  15. in 2006 the tigers owned the royals until the final three regular season games….
    in 2006 the yankees pretty much owned the tigers in the regular season…..
    the 2006 regular season is done, these are two different teams playing on a different stage for much, much bigger stakes.

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