Justin Verlander thinks the Tigers influenced the Athletics’ recent pitching acquisitions

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The Athletics made headlines yesterday when they acquired starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. The A’s, who have won the AL West two seasons in a row, are leading the division again by 3.5 games and are 20 games over .500. There’s no doubt that GM Billy Beane is trying to put his team in a position to win a championship.

Tigers starter Justin Verlander thinks his team influenced the A’s to bolster their starting staff. The Tigers, of course, booted the A’s out of the ALDS in a nail-biting fifth game in each of the last two seasons. Verlander threw a complete game shutout against the A’s in Game Five of the 2012 ALDS and threw eight shutout innings in Game Five of last season’s ALDS.

Via MLB.com’s Jason Beck and Matt Slovin:

“I found it very interesting,” Verlander said Saturday. “Really, when I saw that trade, I thought that they made that trade for us. No doubt about it in my mind. If they want to win a World Series, they’re envisioning that they have to go through us, and even though it’s been two fantastic series, it’s been heartbreaking for them the last two years.”

[…]

“When you have a team like ours, somebody’s going to go out there and dominate,” Verlander said. “And it just happens the last couple years [against Oakland in Game 5], it’s been me. And I think they felt like they needed that person. Star power in the playoffs goes a long way. Power pitching in the playoffs goes a long way.”

Though the Athletics had done well in the starting pitching department prior to the trade — their 3.30 rotation ERA is fifth-best in baseball — rotation depth was one of their more obvious weaknesses. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir have been among the best one-two punches in baseball, but the A’s couldn’t feel comfortable relying on Jesse Chavez and Tommy Milone in the post-season. Due to injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, Chavez is a full-time starter for the first time in his major league career. And despite good results, Milone has had trouble missing bats, something the A’s likely realize is not a good thing in post-season baseball.

Report: Felipe Vázquez arrested on child sex charges

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Jeff Passan of ESPN is reporting that Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vázquez has been arrested and charged with one count of computer pornography, the solicitation of a child, and one count of providing obscene material to minors.

The details, from a report from the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Department are ugly.

According to authorities, Vázquez has allegedly been engaging in sexual activity with a now-15-year-old girl from the time she as 13 years-old. As recently as this July Vázquez allegedly sent the victim videos of him engaging in an unspecified sex act. Vázquez also allegedly sent the victim texts saying that they would meet for sex after the baseball season was over.

The age of consent in the State of Florida is 18. While, like many states, Florida has “close-in-age” exceptions, they do not apply to the 28-year-old Vázquez and someone as young as his alleged victim. Non-legally speaking, the allegations amount to what can and should be called rape — sexual activity without consent due to the impossibility of consent in these allegations — separate and apart from the specific counts with which Vázquez has been charged. It is possible, of course, that authorities could amend and/or add to the charges he currently faces.

Vázquez has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball while the case is pending against him.

We will, without question, be following this story as it develops.