A’s can’t get big hit in Game 1 loss

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The A’s set out to make Justin Verlander work in Game 1 and were partly successful, boosting his pitch count early on. Verlander improved as the outing went on, but those early pitches resulted in his departure after seven, and once the A’s got into the bullpen, they came up just a couple of feet short of tying the game on a Brandon Moss fly to right in the eighth.

Unfortunately, that proved to be team’s only threat after the first few innings in the 3-1 loss to the Tigers. The A’s didn’t have a hit with a man on base during the game. They became just the 20th team in postseason history to strike out at least 14 times in a nine-inning game.

It feels like Oakland’s first defeat in a month or two. In reality, it had been nine days since they lost to the Rangers in the finale of a four-game series. They’d won six straight since to claim the AL West title.

The A’s still have home-field advantage in the ALDS, but they don’t want to go back to Oakland down 0-2. In Sunday’s Game 2, they’ll need to take a different tactic against Doug Fister, a strike-thrower who has handled them well in the past, going 5-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 starts. They’re going to need to be more aggressive and not let Fister get ahead with his fastball. Fister will throw his curve and changeup early in the count as well — he’s no easy assignment — but the A’s can’t miss the heater when it comes.

Personnel changes aren’t likely. While Fister has faced the A’s plenty, the only two current regulars he really has any track record against are Cliff Pennington (1-for-21) and Coco Crisp (6-for-12). It would make sense to sit Pennington and give Adam Rosales a try, though the A’s usually only do that against lefties. As hot as they’ve been, they’ll probably just stay the course.

Luis Severino ‘progressing well’ after Tommy John surgery

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In late February, Yankees starter Luis Severino was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He underwent Tommy John surgery and has spent the past three months rehabbing. Per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Severino says he has been “progressing well” and “making steady progress” in his recovery.

Severino has been working out at George M. Steinbrenner Field — home to the Yankees’ Single-A team as well as spring training — while baseball has been shut down due to coronavirus. He has been doing arm, bike, and dumbbell exercises as recommended by team trainers.

The 26-year-old made only three starts last year before being sidelined, allowing a pair of runs on six hits and six walks with 17 strikeouts over 12 innings. In 2018, Severino was an All-Star, going 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a 220/46 K/BB ratio over 191 1/3 innings. That prompted the Yankees to sign him to a four-year, $40 million extension in February last year.