First pitch for Game 5 is fast approaching at the Coliseum, and it’s one of the coldest nights of the season here. But the A’s are used to crummy weather here at times, and certainly the Tigers get their share in Detroit. I don’t think the elements will affect either team more than the other.
A’s — Crisp CF, Drew SS, Cespedes LF, Smith DH, Reddick RF, Donaldson 3B, Moss 1B, Norris C, Pennington 2B; Parker RHP.
Tigers — Jackson CF, Berry LF, Cabrera 3B, Fielder 1B, Young DH, Dirks RF, Peralta SS, Avila C, Infante 2B; Verlander RHP.
Dropping Brandon Moss from the cleanup spot is the first semi-significant lineup tweak in this series by A’s manager Bob Melvin. You can’t be too surprised considering Moss is 1 for 13 with seven strikeouts. Smith homered in Game 3 and of course delivered the game-tying two-run double in Game 4.
“It’s just a minor tweak. We’ll go with the hot hand,” Melvin said. “Smitty is probably swinging it a little bit better, but that doesn’t mean Moss’ spot doesn’t come up in a bigger situation. We still have a lot of confidence in him.”
–Melvin said he doesn’t foresee needing any of his starting pitchers for relief duty tonight, unless the game “goes 15 innings,” in his words. Hey, I’m not putting anything past these teams in this winner-take-all Game 5. Were the A’s to win tonight, we may not know who they will be playing in the A.L. Championship Series until Friday. If the A’s win and the Yankees win, we know Oakland will play Game 1 on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. If the ORioles win tonight, Baltimore and New York play Game 5 on Friday, and the A’s will be waiting and watching to see who wins. If it’s New York, they will fly across the country to begin the A.L.C.S. Saturday. That would be a brutally quick turnaround, as the A’s probably wouldn’t get to New York until the wee hours of Saturday morning. If the Orioles win the series, the A’s will have home field advantage and host Baltimore on Saturday. That’s much more simple.
So much unknown drama still to play out.