Fittingly for a team that has relied so heavily on rookie pitchers all season the A’s have picked the youngest starter on the staff, 23-year-old Jarrod Parker, to take the mound in Game 1 of the ALDS against Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
Parker, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks as part of the Trevor Cahill deal in December, threw 181 innings with a 3.47 ERA and 140/63 K/BB ratio while allowing just 11 homers.
Fellow rookie Tommy Milone will get the Game 2 start after the 25-year-old left-hander acquired from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez trade logged 190 innings with a 3.74 ERA and 137/36 K/BB ratio.
Oakland kicking off its first playoff series since 2006 by relying on a pair of rookie starters acquired in offseason trades for established starters sounds just about right.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.