The Red Sox and their beards have gotten way too much attention this month.
Not nearly enough has been said, written, blogged, tweeted, ‘grammed or Vined about Sonny Gray’s ever-so-wispy blond mustache. It’s a 1994 Rick Schroder cop ‘stache mixed with a dash of Wooderson. It’s so cheesy the 23-year-old Oakland rookie deserves a Velveeta endorsement after the playoffs are over.
Gray shut down the Tigers in Game 2 last Saturday in their ALDS series, holding Detroit to four hits over eight innings with nine strikeouts. He gets the ball again tonight in Game 5, once again paired against Justin Verlander.
Verlander’s standard October stubble-beard probably isn’t worth talking about, his lifetime 2.38 ERA in 68 lifetime regular season innings at the O.Co Coliseum probably are. Verlander closed out last year’s ALDS in Oakland, throwing a complete game shutout. Last Saturday vs. Gray he went seven scoreless. So yes, he likes pitching in front of Mount Davis.
One thing to watch for with Verlander from the first pitch: will be and the home plate umpire be on the same page for called strikes on the corners. If not, the Athletics’ batters will be able to work their “professional at bat/grinder” advantage and run up his pitch count.
It’s been an interesting offensive series. For the Tigers, almost all their offense has come from either Victor Martinez or Jhonny Peralta, back from serving his 50-game Biogensis-related suspension. They’re the only two Tigers regulars over .300 or who’ve hit home runs. Jim Leyland has gotten away with Peralta in left field, but it’s doubt he risks him at the cavernous O.co. Shockingly Leyland bucked his usual conventional tendencies and will start him at short over Jose Iglesias, who was batting only .083 in the ALDS. Verlander is a fly-ball/strikeout pitcher so Peralta’s bat out-weighs Iglesias’ glove.
Oakland is a bit better offensively, getting a great series from Coco Crisp who seems to be on-base every inning. Unheralded Seth Smith continues to grind out at bats and Yoenis Cespedes continues to do Yoenis Cespedes things.
It’s no surprise, the teams have combined to strike out 78 in the first four games.