American League Division Series capsules
TIGERS VS. ATHLETICS
When: Today at Athletics, 9:37 (TBS);Tomorrow at Athletics, 9:07 (TBS); Monday at Tigers, TBA; *Tuesday at Tigers, TBA; *Thursday at Athletics, TBA (*-if necessary)
What's next: Winner plays winner of the Rays-Red Sox in the ALCS.
History: This is the second consecutive year these teams have met in the Division Series. The Tigers won in five games last year. They have met three times in the playoffs, both other times coming in the ALCS. In 2006, the Tigers swept the A's on their road to the World Series, and in 1972, the A's took the ALCS, 3-2.
About the Tigers: Detroit has the most prolific offensive weapon in baseball by far. Even though he has been playing through injuries, Miguel Cabrera still managed to contend for another Triple Crown. He led the team in average (.348), home runs (44), runs batted in (137) and runs (103). Pitching ace Justin Verlander was not up to his normal standard all year, but Max Scherzer stepped into the ace role, with 21 wins and 240 strikeouts on the year. He will start Game 1.
About the Athletics: Billy Beane has done it again. The Athletics are back in the playoffs, winning the AL West without any "star" players. Third baseman John Donaldson had the highest batting average (.301) and RBI (93) on the team, while Brandon Moss led in long balls (30). They did not have a great advantage in any one statistic, but they found a way to win 96 games, and clear the dangerous Texas Rangers by 5 1/2 games. Bartolo Colon, 40, was the best pitcher on the A's all year, and will get the Game 1 start. His ERA was a superb 2.65, with 18 wins.
Fun fact: Neither team has won a World Series since the 1980s, with Detroit's last coming in 1984 and Oakland's in 1989. Detroit has been to the Series twice since, in 2006 and 2012, and come up empty, while the A's have not seen late October since 1990.
What to look for: This should be a high-scoring series, to say the least. In their seven regular-season games, they combined for 82 runs, more than 11 per game. It should be a very exciting series, and it could take all five games to decide who moves on to the ALCS. If Cabrera gets going, he will he hard to stop. His production, as well as the effectiveness of the Tigers starters, will be the keys.
RED SOX VS. RAYS
When: Today at Red Sox, 3:07 (TBS); tomorrow at Red Sox, 5:37 (TBS); Monday at Rays, TBA; *Tuesday at Rays, TBA; *Thursday at Red Sox, (TBA)* (*-if necessary)
What's next: Winner plays winner of the Tigers-A's in the ALCS.
History: The teams have met only once in the playoffs. In 2008, the Rays took down the defending champion Red Sox in the ALCS to get to their first World Series in franchise history, which they lost to the Phillies.
This season: The AL East foes met 19 times this season. The Red Sox hold a 12-7 advantage over the Rays. The Sox went 6-4 at Fenway Park, and held a 6-3 edge at Tropicana Field.
About the Red Sox: The Red Sox had probably the best offense in baseball this season. They ranked first in MLB in runs (853), on-base percentage (.349) and slugging percentage (.446), and ranked second in team batting average (.277). David Ortiz led them in all major offensive categories except runs, where Jacoby Ellsbury was leader. They won 97 games, and took the AL East crown.
About the Rays: The Rays reached the ALDS via a 4-0 win over the Indians on Wednesday night. They were middle of the pack in most statistical categories. They did not do anything outstandingly well, but they did not do anything poorly. David Price was their best starter, with a 3.33 ERA, and he led the team in strikeouts with 151. Evan Longoria was the shining star at the plate for the team that finished 5 1/2 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East. He led the team in home runs (32), runs batted in (88) and runs (91).
Fun fact: Both teams missed the postseason last year. The Red Sox had the bigger turnaround, as they went from losing 93 games last season to winning 97 games this year.
What to look for: The Red Sox should control this series. They hold the edge in almost every category, and they hold the season edge over the Rays. If Joe Maddon's club is to have a chance in this series, it must win Game 1 in Boston. Price must pitch a gem against John Lackey at Fenway, and the Rays' bats need to come alive throughout the series.