Cumberland Times-News

Baseball

October 4, 2013

A’s, Tigers prepare for playoff rematch year later

Max Scherzer, Bartolo Colon starters for today's opener

(Continued)

And to think Donaldson had prepared to play catcher until he was called upon to fill in at third when Scott Sizemore went down with a season-ending knee injury at the start of spring training 2012.
Aside from much focus at third base, the rematch of last fall’s first-round series takes on a far different look this time around. Cabrera, Prince Fielder and the Tigers have something to prove after being swept by San Francisco in last year’s World Series, while the A’s were hardly a surprise division champion this time and know how close they were to beating the Tigers and reaching the ALCS.
Max Scherzer (21-3) gets the ball opposite Oakland 18-game winner Bartolo Colon for the opener. Tigers manager Jim Leyland is going with Justin Verlander in Saturday’s Game 2 against rookie Sonny Gray.
Verlander beat the A’s in Games 1 and 5 last year.
That’s still plenty fresh for both sides, but so is the A’s late August visit to Comerica Park in which they took three of four on Detroit’s home field.
The A’s didn’t need a last-second rally this year like their improbable late-September 2012 push in which they stunned Texas on the final day — and became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play.
“It’s definitely a little more pressure when you’re out in front than when you’re playing from behind — when you’re behind, you’re still the underdog,” A’s center fielder Coco Crisp said Thursday. “To be honest, I think we’re still the underdog when we’re in front.”
Cabrera’s big bat will decide plenty. He hit .348 with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs but often has played through pain because of a variety of injuries — a troublesome back, a sore left hip, a lower abdominal strain — for a Tigers team coming off its third straight AL Central crown.

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