Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland
When: 9:07 PM, ET – TBS
Series record: 1-0, Detroit
On paper, things aren’t looking the best for the Oakland Athletics. After dropping the first game of the series at home to the Detroit Tigers, they’re now tasked with the challenge of defeating ace Justin Verlander simply to get a split before heading to Detroit.
Not exactly an enviable position, but games aren’t played on paper.
Verlander started two games against the Athletics this season, posting extremely solid numbers though his ERA wasn’t anything special, at least not in regards to his expectations. In his lone start at the Coliseum however, Verlander was dominant, giving up a single run and three hits in six innings of well pitched ball.
Opposing the Tigers’ ace will be young Sonny Gray, who has only thrown 64 innings since his mid-season call-up, but what an impressive 64 innings they’ve been. Gray has dominated hitters to a tune of a .211 batting average against, posting a 2.67 ERA in the process. Of course, those numbers don’t reflect that six of his twelve starts came against the lowly Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins. Still – the numbers have been impressive, regardless.
Gray will be facing the Tigers for the first time this season, but thankfully for Oakland will be doing so at home given his home/road splits as Gray has been dominating in the comfy confines of the Athletics’ expansive pitchers park.
I’m not sure there is a must-win game until you literally must win to keep your season alive, but for Oakland, it’s as close as it gets. Detroit on the other hand couldn’t ask for a more favorable position. With Verlander on the mound, they could be a victory away from a date in the American League Championship with two of the potential three remaining games in the series taking place in Motown.