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The A’s needed seven games to beat these Tigers

Oct 12, 2012, 1:11 AM EDT

Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Five Getty Images

It’s not complicated: the A’s would have been a whole lot better off this week having to face Justin Verlander twice in seven games than twice in five games.

And just as it’s always been, it’s absurd that MLB starts off the postseason with a best-of-five round before moving on to two best-of-sevens.

Given time to set their rotation, the Tigers are obviously a more dangerous team in a five-game series than a seven-game series. It’s not that the rest of their rotation is bad, but Verlander in 40 percent of the games works a whole lot better than throwing him in 29 percent of the games.

The A’s couldn’t beat Verlander, and they couldn’t sweep the other three games. There’s a good chance they would have lost a seven-game series, too, but at least that would have been the fair fight. In six trips to the playoffs under Billy Beane, the A’s have five ALDS losses, all of them 3 games to 2. They had to face Roger Clemens twice in two of them and Pedro Martinez twice in another.

If there’s one thing that’s already been made obvious this postseason, it’s that no team is head-and-shoulder above the rest. It’s never made any sense to let five games decide one round and seven the others, particularly since so many of these LDS matchups seem just as evenly matched as any series that will be encountered later on. Perhaps a second straight ALDS loss for the Yankees would increase momentum for the extra games.

  1. normcash - Oct 12, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    I agree that the LDS should be 7 games. But until MLB decides to end the regular season
    @ Sept. 20—which means reducing the regular season schedule—it won’t happen. As it is,
    next year the Tigers open in Minneapolis in MARCH! Geez!

    • theawesomersfranchise - Oct 12, 2012 at 3:38 AM

      154 games sounds great

      • anythingbutyanks - Oct 12, 2012 at 8:38 AM

        I’d rather 155 so no one can finish .500 for the season, or, better still, 145 with a 3 game play-in, 7 game LDS and 7 for LCS and WS.

      • Detroit Michael - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:08 AM

        Less baseball is not an improvement in my opinion.

      • theawesomersfranchise - Oct 12, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        slightly less regular season baseball for slightly more post season, sounds kinda equal.

    • mrwillie - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      If they are going to keep this 2nd wildcard team, I think I would rather see that “series” extended to 3 games before the DS goes to 7.

      As far as the 3 games wild card goes, Bud says to many days with travel and all. Who says they have to travel? Your the 2nd WC you play 3 on the road, just like you did all season. Now all were talking is 2 extra days……(psssst….and two extra days of revenue Bud/owners)

      • zacksdad - Oct 12, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        I actually like the one game playoff. It used to not matter if you won your division or were a wildcard that much. Now if you are a wildcard, you need to win that one game playoff and use your best pitcher to get in the playoffs. This then rewards the team with the best record to have to face a wildcard team that already used up one of their starters.

        If they have a 3 game playoff, what are the other teams going to do for around 5 – 6 days.

  2. butchhuskey - Oct 12, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    A’s were good, but Verlander is too powerful a weapon in a short series. I’ll give credit to the Tigers – they used their ace when they needed to and got the job done. But I agree that a best of 7 is much better for the game.

  3. cur68 - Oct 12, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Somewhere The G&PB is crying softly into his beer. Poor man. Moneyball II was really shaping up, too.

  4. aceinthehole12 - Oct 12, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    Tigers will lose the next round in 6 games. Unless they plan on starting JV three times haha..either way I’m proud as hell to be an A’s fan..this season was an incredible journey. I’ll never forget this team.

  5. weaselpuppy - Oct 12, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    If the game were just 26 outs then Joe Carter never comes to the plate….as long as we’re stupidly fantasizing about changing the nature of sports, how about we make the Super Bowl best 2 of 3….#stupidpremiseforanarticle

    • Gobias Industries - Oct 12, 2012 at 8:29 AM

      #thisisnttwitteryoudontneedtouseahashtagtoconveyathought

  6. kicksave1980 - Oct 12, 2012 at 3:30 AM

    I have to admit that when the MLB instituted the wild card format in the mid-90’s, I hated it. Despite being a Cardinals fan and benefitting from it twice, it’s still something that I almost begrudgingly accept, and I’ll explain why. Teams play 162 games. Part of me likes the idea of two divisions/league and no interleague. A bigger emphasis on divisional games, much the way it was before the division splits. Wins in April mean just as much as wins in September, and if you fall a game short in your division…well, then “that’s the way baseball go”.

    With that said, I can also see the other side of the coin. I see the benefit and excitement of the wild card. I like the idea of a 7-game format for the Divisional series’, but I don’t want to see the regular season shortened. I would, however, like to see the elimination of interleague play. As an NL fan, I’d rather see teams in my own league more often than a team like Seattle come to town. (No disrespect to Seattle, just an example).

  7. pipkin42 - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    Well, let’s hope the Yankees lose!

    Though the O’s will at least have won an extra game if they do. 4 wins to get to the ALCS, which is what it would be with no second wild card but a 7-game LDS.

  8. dmvdmv101560 - Oct 12, 2012 at 6:04 AM

    You must not have watched the entire Oakland-Detroit series. If you did you would have noticed that all four Tigers starters were very good – it was the Tiger’s bullpen that almost cost them this series. Scherzer is damn near as good as Verlander and Pfister is just a notch below. Granted, Verlander is great but to say that the A’s needed 7 games to beat Detroit is false – just look at the stats of the starting pitching and you’ll see that the A’s didn’t do anything against any of Detroit’s starters.

    • darthicarus - Oct 12, 2012 at 7:11 AM

      Agreed, the stat they showed during the game was something like a 1.54 ERA for the starters in the other 3 games. The Tiger losses were due to crappy bullpen pitching and bad hitting (also good Oakland pitching) not because the Detroit starters were sucking.

  9. bbk1000 - Oct 12, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    MLB is about greed, like all the leagues are now. The World Series should be over by now, but we’ll watch them play sloppy ball in the November snow.

    Baseball season is a marathon, but they have made the playoffs into sprints. Each series should be 7 games straight, no day off for travel, this would make the playoffs more like the season.

    They survive in spite of themselves…

    • Detroit Michael - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      There is very little difference between a 5 and a 7 game series at determining the best team. A 7-game series still doesn’t “prove” which team is better to a greater extent than looking at their regular season records (which is more likely to match teams’ true talent levels but still doesn’t prove actual quality either). A 7-game series is still a sprint.

      Seems to me that the 162-game schedule, 1-game wild card, 5-game series and two 7-game series all emphasize team depth to a different degree. Verlander probably will start just once in the ALCS (last season, Leyland wouldn’t start Verlander on short rest in the playoffs), so they’ll have to win under a variety of conditions if they will be crowned the World Champs.

      What drives me crazy about the post-season scheduling is if both the ALCS and NLCS end early, they won’t speed up when the World Series starts. That’s the dead time that can be most easily eliminated in my opinion.

  10. jmwilt77 - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    I’m so sick of those who do not give credit where credit is due — instead they whine, always making it about the “system” and what would’ve happened “if.” Listen, you can blab all you want about why it should be 5 vs 7 games series, but the fact is, it is what it is. In life, you have to figure out how to play within the system, not fight against it, to win. And the Tigers did just that. They played their cards right to take this series. The Tigers starting pitching staff is rock solid and every single one of them showed the A’s how it’s done. dmvdmv101560 is right — it was the bullpen that almost blew it for the Tigers. But in the end, they’re a solid team who did what they do best. Win.

    • Tick - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      I’m a HUGE life long A’s fan and I refuse to use a short series and facing Verlander twice as an excuse. If you want to be World Champs, you have to beat pitchers of Verlander’s calibur. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. The A’s aren’t there yet, but with a team that’s mostly rookies, I have faith in the future. Proud as hell of what they did this season and the A’s can hold their heads high.

      • bh192012 - Oct 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        We were there, then one of our aces strained his oblique. Also the other ace had brain surgery.

        Reverse the roles here a bit and hit Verlander in the head in early September instead and see where the Tigers and Athletics land? Or have the remaining Tigers ace stain an oblique and take them out of the 1st and 5th start? Stuff happens. The A’s made it as far as they did on pure willpower and determination.

  11. monkeyjuice313 - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Heck of a series! A’s have nothing to be ashamed of, and will probably be a team to reckon with for years to come with all those rookies. Eat ‘em up, Tigers! That was fun!

  12. razydog - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    And if my aunt had BALLS….she’d probably play for the yankees..whatever

    • monkeyjuice313 - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      “If peeing your pants is cool…consider me Miles Davis”

  13. icanspeel - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    This is why a #1 starter is so valuable. Teams look for any edge they can get and securing a #1 pitcher is 1 of those edges. It could have easily backfired too.. Look at the Reds and Cueto, they lost their #1 and it probably cost them the series amongst other things.

  14. willclarkgameface - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    This was a damn good series. Both AL series have been very good thus far. I like that the Giants beat the Reds and the Cardinals let that one get away yesterday. And to Jayson Werth no less.

    I do think the A’s would have taken the Tigers down if given another opportunity against ANY of the other starting pitchers in their rotation. It was Verlander last night and he did exactly what he needed to do. Nice work A’s, but this is just another season Billy Beane can think about forever.

    You ALMOST start to feel bad for this guy. I think he’s one of the smartest guys in baseball, but they sure could have used at least one heavy ace (I mean you Gio…).

  15. pdowdy83 - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    This article completely misses the point of why ace starting pitchers are such a commodity. It is for reasons like this. To say the series should have been 7 games so the Tigers lose the advantage, that they gained from drafting and extending Verlander, of having one of the games best pitchers.

    • pdowdy83 - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Oops…post got cut off.

      To say the series should have been 7 games so the Tigers Lose the advantage, that they gained from drafting and extending Verlander, of having one of the games best pitchers is just dumb. Let’s take away one teams advantage that they earned to help another team have a better chance of winning a series. Yeah. That makes perfect sense.

      I think the best thing about MLB’s post season is the fact that it doesn’t take 2 months like NHL and NBA. The shorter series to open gives it a bit of a different feel.

  16. hgfrombc2 - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    I continually read comments syaing that the season should be shortened, but it’s never, never, EVER going to happen.
    I think the solution is relatively simple:
    Every team plays one day/night double header each month. That keeps all the money flowing in. To avoid burning up the bullpen for those dh’s, each team is allowed to call up 2 (or 3) pitchers for that day without it counting against the number of times a player is shuttled between AAA & the majors (if that even matters anymore). Start the season on April 1, regardless of which day of the week it falls on.
    Each team has two off-days a month, the regular season ends on September 22. One off-day then the wildcard play-in game. LDS’s begin on September 26 (best of 7); LCS’s on October 5; WS on October 15.
    Done by October 23.

  17. thraiderskin - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Good series… Too much Verlander. The A’s looked good and I hope they continue their success throughout next year, Good Luck Tigers. I would also like, at the minimum, to see the series rotation changed, perhaps give the top team the first game at home, then 2 away, 2 home.

  18. aiede - Oct 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    It’s not like Verlander is the Tigers’ only decent starter. Look at the others’ performance this series:

    Fister: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 8 K
    Sanches: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 K
    Scherzer: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 8 K

    Yes, the Tigers’ starting rotation gave up a total of five earned runs in a five-game series.

    The “A’s would have won in seven because less Verlander” presupposes that the other starters would be locks to beat. Given that you couldn’t actually blame either Sanchez (zero runs of support) for his loss in Game 3 or Scherzer (Papa Grande blowing a 3-run lead in the 9th) for Game 4, I don’t see how you argue that they’re going to be the difference in ALDS Games 6 or 7.

    • craggt - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      Exactly. JV also got the most run support last night of any starter in the series. With how well Detroit’s starters pitched in this series it would have been a sweep had the offense scored 6 runs in each game.

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