Sunday, October 08, 2006

A look at the ALCS

After weeks of enduring endless reporters' questions and columns on how the A's haven't clinched a post-season series since man invented the wheel, they finally put them to rest with a handy sweep of the Twins. I bet guys like The Big Hurt, Huston Street, Jason Kendall, and Mark Kotsay were more than a little annoyed with reporters' questions - considering none of them were around for the last time the A's made the post-season.

I gotta admit, I thought the first round was going to be a lot tougher. The Minnesota Twins, normally, are A's killers. Cuddyer and Morneau just kill the A's and I fully expected to see Santana twice if it went to game 5. Going into Minnesota I thought "if they can win 1-out-of-2 in Minnesota then we just might have a chance". I was happily surprised that they beat Santana and then went on to win 2 more.

On Friday my office had the game on the TV in the lunch room. We couldn't hang out in the lunchroom all day, but let's just say a lot of people felt frequent urges for a fresh cup of coffee or glass of water or felt like they needed to check out the vending machines, because there were always a few people hanging out in front of the TV for a few minutes at a team, myself included. After the bottom of the 9th my co-worker and I went to the lunchroom to watch the 9th and there must have been 20 people in there. After the final out the lunchroom burst into applause and cheers, and I overheard more than a couple of "thank God they made it past the first round".

On to the ALCS. I was equally surprised to see the Yankees collapse against the Tigers. I always felt the Tigers had a chance and from day one had remarked on the Yankees weaker pitching, but that is one scary lineup. I thought for sure the Yankees would give Detroit a harder time, but never did I think they would implode like that. The Tigers pitching was just brilliant, especially Kenny Rogers.

Now the A's will be facing Detroit to see who will go to the World Series. A's fans, this ain't gonna be easy. The A's will have to face Kenny Rogers at least twice in a 7 game series. For those of you who don't know, Kenny Rogers OWNS the A's. I can't explain it, but he just does. The man is 25-4 when pitching in the Oakland coliseum and has beaten the A's more than any other team, 21-7 (I think - correct me if I am wrong). Even this year he won both games he pitched against the A's, although he did have a bloated 4-point-something ERA over those 2 games. From what I saw against the Yankees, he will be on the top of his game.

But it's not just Rogers the A's need to worry about. Justin Verlander has been good all year, even though he got roughed up a bit at the end, but he pitched excellent against the Yankees. Don't forget former A's farmhand Bonderman either. The A's will have a tough hill to climb against the Tigers.

Luckily the A's begin this series at home and let's just hope they can maintain the momentum. Zito will be pitching game one and hopefully will be on his game like he was against Santana. I'm a bit nervous about Loaiza in game 2, although he pitched well enough against The Twins. But the last few weeks of the season he had a couple of bad outings. Haren makes me nervous. He had a really rough September and although he managed to get through game 3 relatively unscathed he gave up 9 hits and a walk in just 6 innings pitched. I think he was lucky to emerge with only 2 earned runs. Despite a wild outing by Harden in his 3rd game since coming off the DL, I think he should do well in this series.

See you again on Tuesday!


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