Tigers don't see A's as underdogs


DETROIT -- The Oakland Athletics won 94 games, had the best record in the Major Leagues since June 2 (71-38), and a had a Major League-leading 112 home runs, and 394 runs scored since the All-Star Break. Somehow, they are still considered the underdogs against the 88-win Detroit Tigers in Las Vegas. It would seem the A's are getting no respect, but that's clearly not the case -- just ask the Tigers themselves. "That's just a group of guys that don't give up and I think they like the fact that a lot of guys are saying they might be the underdog in the series," Tigers' game one starting pitcher Justin Verlander said. "Even though they won more games than us. It's crazy." "They've been a great story," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland added. "I think it has been an unbelievable year for baseball and the A's have been part of the story."
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Oakland's improbable surge to capture the American League West Championship has certainly garnered the attention of the Tigers who spent Friday afternoon sizing up their competition. "They've gotten great pitching all year," catcher Alex Avila said. "Their offense is pretty good too. You can't argue with how many games they've won. They are a tough team and they are a scrappy team." The Tigers and A's both took their respective divisions late in the season. The A's actually never held sole possession of first place until after winning their final game. The Tigers finally passed the Chicago White Sox for good on September 26. Both the Tigers and A's have identical home winning percentages (.580, 50-31).Verlander was 2-0 against the A's this season. He faced Oakland when they weren't running on all cylinders though. They were missing Yoenis Cespedes from the lineup when Verlander beat them in Oakland on May 13, and they were missing Coco Crisp when he defeated them in Detroit on September 19. Even without Crisp -- who is 8 for 22 in his career against Verlander -- the A's were able to work up his pitch count and get him out of the game after throwing 122 pitches through six innings of shutout ball. "It's just one of those teams that is scrappy and found a way to win no matter who is in the lineup," Verlander said. "The last game I threw against them was actually one of the toughest games I threw all year."
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That's high praise coming from the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner. "You can't ever take guys for granted no matter who's name is on the back," Verlander said of the A's lineup. "Obviously this group of guys have done a fantastic job and they had one of the best records in baseball so they are doing something right." The starting pitcher for the Tigers in game two will be Doug Fister. The Merced native holds a a different type of admiration for the A's. "Growing up I was more of a Giants fan but I went to a couple A's games with my dad and some friends. I think it is going to be fun. There's going to be a lot of friends and family that comes to the games. It does make it definitely more special to have some familiar faces in the stands."Fister struck out nine consecutive batters on September 27 to set an American League strikeout record. He is 10-10 with a 3.45 ERA this season and is 5-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 career starts against the A's. He sees a lot of similarity between the A's and Tigers. "I think that their camaraderie is there," Fister said. "They play together, they play for one another, and you see it. That's the same thing we do it's going to be a good battle for us." As much as the Tigers seemed to respect and appreciate what the A's have accomplished, they know the A's don't have a weapon like Miguel Cabrera. The first triple crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, Cabrera demolished the A's this season to a tune of a .483 (14 for 29) average with three homers and 14 RBI in their seven games against each other.
RELATED: A's-Tigers ALDS broadcast schedule"Everybody everywhere wants to pay attention when he's hitting," Verlander said. "He's an unbelievable talent and I think in the ballpark when they announce Miguel Cabrera everyone in the hot dog line gets out of the line and comes to watch." "I do too," he added. "I get out of the hot dog line in the dugout."
Oakland can let the Tigers fans stay in the concession lines by avoiding Cabrera all together. They might be better off taking their chances with Prince Fielder at the plate. He only hit .074 (2 for 27) against A's pitching this season. The first two games will be in Detroit. Saturday's game is at 3:07 p.m. and Sunday's game is at 9:07 a.m. PST. Tuesday's game will be at 6:07 p.m. in Oakland. If necessary the final two games of the series will be at the Oakland Coliseum at a time to be determined.

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