Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers: Key Players to Watch in Game 1 of ALDS

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 6, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 28: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers hits a single against the Minnesota Twins during the fourth inning of the game on September 28, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Is it possible to lose your first postseason game when your starting the reigning American League MVP on the mound, and a Triple Crown winner at third base? 

The Detroit Tigers will attempt to answer with a definitive "no" on Saturday night when they host the AL West champion Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of their American League Division Series at Comerica Park in Detroit.

The AL Central champion Tigers are on fire as they enter the postseason, having won eight of their last 10 games overall. However the Athletics are every bit as hot coming into the playoffs. Oakland has won six games in a row and had to rally from a five-game deficit with less than two weeks to play to win the division.

Here we get you set for Saturday's matchup and break down some key players to keep an eye on for both sides. 


Where: Comerica Park, Detroit, MI

When: Saturday, October 6 at 6:07 p.m. ET

Watch: TBS


Justin Verlander

Detroit will open up Game 1 with their ace, reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander on the mound.

Verlander, who is 17-8 this season in 33 starts, has struck out 239 and boasts an impressive 2.64 ERA. Unfortunately for the A's, Verlander went 9-2 at home during the regular season with a ridiculous 1.65 ERA. He allowed just eight home runs in 15 starts at Comerica Park.

Verlander will face off against A's starter Jarrod Parker in Game 1. Parker is just 7-3 on the road this season with a 4.54 ERA. Clearly the advantage goes to Verlander and the home team in Game 1. No offense to Parker, but Verlander is a game-changer on the mound. 

One final statistic to guarantee the reigning AL MVP's dominance Saturday night: Verlander went 2-0 in two starts vs. Oakland this season with a 0.69 ERA, his best against any team in 2012.


Yoenis Cespedes 

Oakland Athletics' rookie outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was a huge reason the A's rallied to win the AL West this fall. Cespedes hit seven home runs in the month of September, and recorded eight hits in the last six games for Oakland, all of which were wins. 

The 26-year-old Cuba native is batting .292 this season and boasts 82 RBI and 23 homers in only 129 appearances in the A's outfield. Look for Cespedes to be the guy who shows up with runners on base for Oakland.

Cespedes batted .400 against the Tigers during the regular season. He only struck out once and recorded two RBI in 10 appearances at the plate vs. Detroit.


Miguel Cabrera 

Of course, MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera has to be a player to watch in Saturday night's ALDS opener. Cabrera won the elusive Triple Crown this season, finishing atop the three major statistical categories in the American League.

Cabrera finished the year batting .330, with 139 RBI and 44 home runs. The 29-year-old third baseman is in his own world right now, and is as hot as ever. He has 11 homers since the start of September.

Miggy is a huge reason why the Tigers are even playing for a World Series title in 2012, and will be a key player in Game 1 in Detroit as he attempts to get the Tigers on the board early and often in hopes of taking an early 1-0 series lead on the Athletics. 



I think the combination of Verlander on the mound and Cabrera at the plate will be too much for Oakland to overcome on the road in Game 1. Tigers win easy and cool the surging A's.


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter for more 2012 MLB Postseason give and take. 

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