Series: 2-1, Detroit
Time/Place: 9:30 p.m., Oakland Coliseum
SB Nation Blog: Athletics Nation
Pitching Matchup: RHP Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (7-1, 3.06 ERA)
The Tigers handed Griffin his worst start (and only loss) of the season on September 18th, scoring five runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. Griffin was victimized by three Tigers home runs, a stat that contributed greatly to his 1.09 home runs allowed per 9 innings this season. He was fairly homer-prone in the rest of his starts as well, allowing 0.81 dingers per 9 innings in his other 77 2/3 innings in 2012. After leaving Detroit, Griffin struggled down the stretch, allowing nine earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.
Scherzer has put up some ridiculous strikeout numbers against the A's in his career. He is 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA against Oakland in his career, but has struck out an incredible 35 A's batters in just 19 innings. Of course, this is nothing new for Scherzer, who was second in the majors among starting pitchers with 11.08 strikeouts per 9 innings. Even more encouraging is the fact that his road splits improved considerably during the second half. He was 9-4 with a 3.92 ERA away from Comerica Park on the season with a 3.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
A quick tidbit on strikeouts that suggests good things to come
Remember how I said that the Oakland A's swing and miss more than almost every other team in baseball? Max Scherzer gets hitters to swing and miss more than every other starting pitcher in baseball, save for Francisco Liriano and Cole Hamels. While neither of those guys are available this evening, the Tigers are still in good shape.
Scherzer wasn't particularly great against left-handed hitters this season, but he is exactly the type of pitcher that the A's don't want to face right now. The A's will be relying heavily on Griffin to match Scherzer pitch for pitch in the early part of the game, something that I'm not 100% sure he's up to doing. He seemed worn down over his last four starts and may be starting to show why he was a fringe prospect before the season began.
The miracle run ends tonight behind 7 strong innings from Scherzer.