Notes: Verlander's strike zone, McCarthy still an option?

Notes: Verlander's strike zone, McCarthy still an option?
October 12, 2012, 12:10 am
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OAKLAND -- With the Oakland Athletics in win-or-go-home mode it is still business as usual at the Oakland Coliseum. For the third day in a row A's manager Bob Melvin met with a select few daily beat writers in the clubhouse after his press conference. Why is this news? Because for the third day in a row he stood in the exact same spot in the hallway, and so did we the media. Melvin is a man that never hides his superstitious nature. The A's may need all the supernatural assistance they can get. Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is 3-0 against the A's this season. He has only allowed two runs in his three starts against the A's this season. Six years ago today, Verlander started Game 4 of the American League Championship Series as the Tigers swept the A's. So how do the A's beat Verlander? "One of the things you try and do is drive his pitch count up," Melvin said. "Sometimes it's tough to do. And a lot of times he is out there for 130 pitches."In Verlander's three starts against the A's he has never gone past the seventh inning. He has thrown 121, 122, and 104 pitches in those starts, so they have been able to work his count up and get him out of the game. One key factor will be the strike zone. Verlander is the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner so he tends to get a favorable strike zone. In Game 1 the A's hitters looked to be a bit frustrated with some of the called strikes home plate umpire Jim Reynolds awarded Verlander. In Game 5 it will be Wally Bell behind home plate. "I think there's always the reputation involved," Melvin said of Verlander's strike zone. "I'd rather be on the other end of that where we felt like we got some. I'm not going to say it was significantly different but it's something you have to be aware of."Either way, Melvin says he is hopeful the strike zone gets established early. The A's have some advantages of their own in Game 5. The sellout crowd at the Oakland Coliseum has been a factor for the A's in this series and that won't be changing. "I was having a tough time communicating with my coaches in the ninth inning it was so loud," Melvin said. With the series evened up at two games a piece this series is tough to call. "We're at home, they have their ace on the mound, we have a guy that we are very comfortable with too, he's pitched very well for us this year," Melvin said. "It's like a pretty even draw at this point. Our fans are definitely a plus for us and we feel it." Jarrod Parker went six and one-third innings in Game 1. He allowed three runs on seven hits. He will become the youngest pitcher in 15 years to start in a deciding game. The A's already set a Major League record by starting three rookie starting pitchers in this series. The A's young pitching staff has held its own against a tough Detroit lineup. They have 30 strikeouts in this series and have issued just five walks. A's starting pitchers are 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA and .244 opponents batting average in this series. Injury UpdatesBrett Anderson said he felt his right oblique pulling a little bit during his Game 3 start. He threw a bullpen on Thursday. If the A's advance to the ALCS he will be on track to pitch. "From what I heard I think he feels pretty good," Melvin said. "Yesterday it was a little sore which you can understand and today it was much better." Jordan Norberto has thrown from 120 feet but has yet to throw from a mound. "It would be tough to consider him an option no matter where we go at this point," Melvin said. Brandon McCarthy is throwing from 120 feet. He has yet to return to a mound. He is working very hard to make a return to the rotation a possibility if the A's can make it to the World Series. "I'd hate to rule anything out as far as that goes because he is trying so hard to get back," Melvin said. "Until he gets on a mound we are not sure."McCarthy's return would be of miraculous nature. On September 7, his situation was described as "life threatening" by athletics trainer Nick Paparesta. McCarthy underwent brain surgery after getting hit in the head by a line drive on September 5. "He'd have to get off a mound," Melvin said. "We'd potentially have to get him some hitters. There's a ways to go but I am certainly not going to be the guy that's going to says there's no way."