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.

Michael Young has some opinions on brushback pitches

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A lot of people in the comments to Bill’s posts on the Urena-Acuña posts last night and in response to my rant about it in the recaps and on Twitter this morning, have talked about how silly writers don’t understand the culture of baseball and how pitchers have been brushing back batters for years. One guy said that old players would laugh at me for my naive notions about such matters and that, to make it as a pitcher, you have to brush guys back and reclaim the inside of the plate and make the hitter uncomfortable in the box.

I think that’s all b.s. obviously, but they are right about one thing: I don’t play baseball and baseball players probably know this stuff better. With that in mind, I’m going to defer to seven-time All-Star Michael Young’s thoughts on the matter of brushbacks and purpose pitches:

If you think you know more about this than Michael Young, you now have his Twitter handle and can tell him yourself.