OAKLAND -- The A's just finished taking batting practice on the field, getting ready for tonight's Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tigers -- which manager Bob Melvin said felt like it couldn't come soon enough.
"Relief," Melvin said when asked about the series finally getting underway after a five-day layoff, a seeming eternity by baseball standards. "You deal with an off-day or two, but when you're on the verge of a playoff series like this, you start to get antsier and antsier as it goes along. Come yesterday, everybody was ready for this day to come."
The good news already for the A's -- Yoenis Cespedes arrived at the Coliseum today feeling OK and will start in left field tonight after sitting out the final two games of the regular season with a sore right shoulder. That means Brandon Moss will DH with Daric Barton starting at first base.
Here's the full A's lineup against Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer:
And the Tigers' lineup against Bartolo Colon:
Melvin said he arrived at the park today around 10 a.m. to make sure he had time to deal with extra pre-game obligations. Players started filtering in a short time later. As opposed to last year, when the A's were the upstarts crashing the playoffs with their final-day clinch, Melvin said he really has noticed a more business-like feeling in the clubhouse over the past week.
"I don't want to say it's matter-of-fact, but I think the expectations were different over the course of the season," Melvin said. "But I do feel some excitement today. Maybe the days we had off were one or two too many."
As for whether he'll alter his managing style for a short postseason series, Melvin said it will largely depend on how the game unfolds. He said he won't automatically be inclined to play for single runs early in the game -- his belief is that sometimes starting pitchers are at their most vulnerable early, and if the A's give away outs against a pitcher like Scherzer, they might be playing themselves out of a rally.
"But that's all kind of feel," Melvin said.
Scherzer led the majors this season with 21 wins. Close behind was Colon, who tonight will become the oldest A's pitcher in the Oakland era to start a postseason game at 40 years and 133 days. The previous oldest was Bob Welch, who was 35 years, 343 days when he started Game 4 of the 1992 ALCS. Welch, incidentally, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch before Game 2 tomorrow night.
* Major League Baseball announced start times for the rest of the series -- Game 3 in Detroit will begin at 10:07 a.m. PT, while Games 4 and 5, if necessary, will be at 2:07 p.m. PT and 6:07 p.m. PT, respectively. Game 5 in Oakland next Thursday could move up an hour if the other ALDS between the Rays and Red Sox were to be done already.
-- Matt Kawahara