Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends

Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends
October 12, 2012, 4:35 am
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OAKLAND -- Six years ago to the day, Justin Verlander pitched Game 4 of the 2006 American League Championship Series and the Tigers swept the A's. Six years later he shut down the A's to again end Oakland's season, this time in the American League Division Series. Verlander was too good, and the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs in the seventh inning en route to a 6-0 win. Okay, now it's over. The A's offseason may be starting on Friday, but this team accomplished much more than anyone in their right mind expected. The A's won 94 games, the American League West, and clawed their way back from a two-game deficit to force a Game 5. This season led to the emergence of rookies Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Ryan Cook, Yoenis Cespedes, and Sean Doolittle as well as the breakout performances of Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, the late arrival of Josh Donaldson, and the return of Brett Anderson. And of course, the walk-off pies. 2012 may be over, but 2013 looks like it may pack some promise. The core of this A's team is intact for the future. Don't expect a firesale after this season. With the payroll at 52 million, they could potentially make additions. At the PlateThe reigning American League Cy Young and MVP flat out dominated the A's hitters. Verlander only allowed four hits in nine innings. He struck out 11 batters. The A's 50 strikeouts in this series broke the previous Oakland strikeout record of 43 for a five-game playoff series. Starting Pitching Report Jarrod Parker became the youngest pitcher in the last 15 years the start a deciding game in the playoffs. He looked like a veteran on the hill. Parker allowed four runs, in six and one-third innings of work. Two of those runs scored after Parker left the game. In two postseason starts he performed admirably. The A's can rest easy knowing they have an ace in the making in this talented young righty. Parker allowed a one-out double in the first inning to Quintin Berry. With Berry in scoring position Miguel Cabrera was on deck and Prince Fielder was in the hole. Parker got both of them to ground out to end the inning. In the second, Parker dispatched the Tigers with relative ease. He gave up a single to Andy Dirks on a controversial call. Replays showed that Dirks was actually out at first. The Tigers right fielder stole second to put some pressure on Parker. He responded by striking out Alex Avila to end the inning. The A's ran into trouble in the third inning. Parker allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante and was charged with a wild pitch that moved him to second. Infante became the third Tigers player to reach second in as many innings. Austin Jackson ripped a double to left-center to put the Tigers on the board. He was bunted over to third and ended up scoring on a wild pitch. Parker pitched a three up, three down fourth inning, his first clean inning of the game. The Tigers got a runner on second in four of the first five innings. The young righty remained poised in big situations. He only had 70 pitches through six innings. In the seventh inning Parker allowed two singles and was lifted from the game with one out. He was pulled with 85 pitches and runners on the corners. A's manager Bob Melvin elected to go with Ryan Cook instead of Parker. That decision proved to be problematic. Bullpen ReportCook allowed an RBI single to Jackson to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. He then walked Berry to load the bases before plunking Cabrera in the shoulder with the bases loaded to make it 4-0. Jerry Blevins entered the game next. He allowed a bloop single to Fielder to make it 5-0. Young hit a sharp ball to Stephen Drew next and couldn't field it cleanly. Instead of a potential inning-ending double play the Tigers ended up scoring their sixth run. Blevins got a ground ball out of Dirks that allowed Pennington to throw Cabrera out at home. He then got a pop out to end the inning. Evan Scribner pitched a three up, three down eighth and ninth innings. Scribner didn't allow a run in his final six regular season appearances. He didn't disappoint on this evening. He might be a solid weapon for the A's next season. In the FieldPennington made a nice play on a ball hit up the middle by Dirks. He ranged to get to the ball and made a perfect off balance throw to first. First base umpire Scott Berry called Dirks safe. Replays showed he was out by a step. Dirks reached second with a stolen base. He ended up stranded there. Norris struggled in the third inning. Omar Infante led off with a single and advanced to second on a ball that got away from Norris. The passed ball issue popped up again when Norris wasn't able to block a ball that allowed Jackson to score. The Tigers only stole 59 bases this season but they ran all over the A's on Thursday night. They stole three bases against Parker and Norris. AttendanceThe A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,393. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's pack their bags and get to enjoy some well-deserved time off with their families. It's never easy getting bounced out of the playoffs but the A's had a heck of a season. They have a lot to build on for the future. If the success of this team is any indicator, you can expect the A's to be back in contention. That's a lot more than anyone expected entering 2012. Free AgentsBrandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, and Jonny Gomes are the A's only free agents. Stephen Drew can elect to test the open waters of free agency this offseason if he wants. The A's and Drew have a mutual option for 2012.

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