Thanks to Monday’s R-rated exchange between Victor Martinez and Grant Balfour, this afternoon’s ALDS Game 4 in Detroit got a lot more interesting. Don’t expect fireworks or “message” pitches, since it seemed like an isolated incident. That said, if the Tigers come out with three runs today in the first inning all the writers will point to the exchange “waking up” the dormant Detroit lineup, which has only produced six runs in the first three games.
Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland doesn’t tend to buy into that sort of rah-rah stuff. His long-standing mantra is that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher. Detroit, last year’s American League Champion, sends Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67) to the mound looking to extend their season one more game. Oakland counters with Dan Straily (10-8, 3.67). Leyland has also said he’d use Max Scherzer in a relief role today should the need arise, leaving Justin Verlander to start a potential Game 5 Thursday night.
Of note, the Athletics are looking for their second postseason series win since 2000. In that span Oakland is 1-6 in series, with their only win an ALDS win over Minnesota in 2006. They’ve lost twice to the Tigers over that time, in the 2006 ALCS and last year’s ALDS in five games.
Despite their poor track record in close-out games, A’s owner Lew Wolff thinks his club will close out the series today.
Revenge would probably feel pretty sweet for the A’s. Hopefully the Tigers’ clubhouse staff has placed anything valuable in bubblewrap as a precaution. Balfour getting excited and celebrating could be dangerous.