Comerica Park has finally dried from Saturday night's champagne bukkake. Now, after every one's hangover has lifted, this is where focus turned to the next obstacle at hand. While, yes it was awesome to beat the Yankees, at home, the way that they did; the thought resonating through my mind today hopefully is the same one that Jim Leyland will preaching to the Tigers on the flight to Oakland. "That's not good enough." Great we beat the Yankees...in the ALDS. They won 3 games in convincing fashion...they need to win 8 more.
So with that being said lets take a look at the Tigers sworn enemies for the next 4 to 7 games, the Oakland Athletics, and break it down like L.L. Cool J
The similarities are striking, no pun intended. While the Tigers don't have a superstar stud like Barry Zito, the four starters they will throw at the A's were 7th, 11th, 12th, and 14th in ERA. Zito and Dan Haren were the only A's starters that didn't have a stint on the DL. Rich Harden only started 9 games. some have questioned Nate Robertson starting game one against Zito, but I like it. My gut says it's Leyland way of giving Robertson confidence. Plus that sets up Kenny Rogers (who is 24-5 career against the A's) and Bonderman (the former A's prospect) pitching in games 3 and 4 (plus 6, and 7 if necessary). The bullpens are a wash. Jones and Huston Street both had 37 saves. Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer are to Oakland what Zumaya and Rodney are to the Tigers (minus the K's). This bullpen wasn't really touched by Minnesota in the ALDS, so the Tigers must get to the starters and wear down the bullpen. But the Tigers did just shut down the greatest hitting lineup in the history of western civilization, so that has to count for something, right?
While the Tigers did better in pretty much all the offensive categories in the regular season, except with on base percentage. But in the playoffs the Tigers were better, in fact even the Twins were better than the A's, but still lost the series. More than half their line up is hitting below .215. These aren't the bottom of the order guys either, these are guys like Jason Kendall their leadoff hitter, and a power hitter like Eric Chavez. If it wasn't for Frank Thomas, and Torii Hunter's error, more than likely the Twins win the first two games of the series, and we have a Central Division ALCS.
The A's were missing their starting shortstop going into the playoffs, and now they will be without their starting second baseman(Mark Ellis). That would seem to put Oakland at a disadvantage fielding and hitting wise. But other than up the middle the defenses are evenly matched. As for managers, Ken Macha left the A's then came back when only the Devil Rays came calling. Jim Leyland more than likely will win AL Manager of the year.
The Tigers are on a huge emotional rush right now. That could help or hurt a team. With Leyland in charge he'll find a way to focus that energy from knocking off the Yankees into success on the field against the A's. Zito wins both his starts in games 1 and 5, but the Tigers led by the Gambler, take it in 6, and have another scene like this below.