Bay Area Baseball

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October 5, 2013
A's, Tigers Game 2 lineups: Barton out, Smith in

OAKLAND -- The A's lineup has a slightly different look for Game 2 against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander. Daric Barton, who started Game 1, is out, with Brandon Moss at first base and Seth Smith starting at designated hitter.

Manager Bob Melvin said he intended before the series to have Smith start this game, and taking Barton out of the lineup isn't a reaction to Barton having a rough Game 1. Barton struck out in all three of his plate appearances and couldn't glove a couple grounders that Melvin said were plays he'll often make.

Smith does have a history of at least making Verlander work in at-bats -- he's 2-for-15 lifetime against the Tigers righty but with six walks in 21 plate appearances. The A's could benefit from getting Verlander's pitch count up earlier than they were able to get Max Scherzer's last night.

Here's the full A's lineup against Verlander:

CF Crisp
SS Lowrie
3B Donaldson
1B Moss
LF Cespedes
DH Smith
RF Reddick
C Vogt
2B Sogard

And the Tigers' lineup against A's rookie Sonny Gray:

CF Jackson
RF Hunter
3B Cabrera
1B Fielder
DH Martinez
C Avila
2B Infante
LF Kelly
SS Iglesias

* Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Friday that the "problem with Sonny Gray" for his team is the unfamiliarity aspect. The A's roster has a combined 222 career plate appearances against Verlander, so they'll at least have an idea of how Verlander's pitches look and a sense of what to expect. None of the Tigers hitters have seen Gray in a major-league game. Melvin said that could be an advantage for the A's -- to an extent.

"Usually a pitcher will have a little bit of an advantage, but nowadays with technology, you get a pretty good look at a guy and know what he throws in certain counts," Melvin said. "But until you get in the batter's box, you're not sure how the ball plays.

"Sometimes the velocity, the ball gets on you quicker with the velocity, late movement, whatever. But that takes maybe all of one time around the lineup."

It's one more reason the A's would benefit from jumping on Verlander early -- give what figures to be another large crowd something to get excited about early on, avoid having to play from behind as they did in Game 1 and take some of the pressure off Gray.

* Melvin said Coco Crisp, who cramped up late in Game 1, is back to normal today. He also said Yoenis Cespedes had "no issues" with his right shoulder batting or throwing on Friday night.

* Melvin was asked today if the A's had considered trying to bunt on Miguel Cabrera in Game 1 knowing Cabrera is dealing with ailments including a sore groin that limit his movement. Melvin pointed out that Cabrera played almost on the infield grass when the A's most likely bunters -- Crisp and Eric Sogard, in particular -- were batting, and that when Sogard did hit a slow chopper to Cabrera's left, the third baseman made the play without any apparent issues.

"The ball that Sogie hit, (Cabrera) actually moved well side to side," Melvin said. "And if the issue is (moving) in and out, he's taking it away."

* Right-hander A.J. Griffin is not scheduled to play catch today and the A's won't work out on tomorrow's off-day after arriving in Detroit early in the morning, Melvin said. So the earliest Griffin would throw is Monday.

The A's will fly out immediately after tonight's game and are scheduled to land in Detroit around 6:30 a.m. local time Sunday morning. They won't work out in part because it's then a quick turnaround to Monday's game -- a 1:07 p.m. start in Detroit, 10:07 a.m. on the West Coast.

"It's an interesting turnaround," Melvin said. "It's one that's unique. But there's not a problem with adrenaline in the postseason."

* A little history -- the A's have lost the first game of a postseason series now 14 times. They've come back to win the series in just three of the previous 13 -- the 1911 World Series, the 1973 ALCS and the 1974 ALCS. The latter two were five-game series.

Eight times, the A's have started a series by losing the first two games, and they've never come back to win one of those series. So there's that. First pitch tonight at 6:07 p.m.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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