Immediate Adjustments Oakland A's, Tampa Bay Rays Must Make Before It's Too Late
The Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers jumped out to 1-0 series leads in their respective ALDS series on Friday night, and while there is certainly still plenty of baseball to be played for their opponents, Game 2 will be crucial.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A's will be looking to even things up in Game 2, as the Rays look to avoid falling behind 0-2 prior to heading back home and the A's look to make the most of their home field advantage.
There are a few key adjustments for these two teams to make if they want to come away with a victory on Saturday, so here is a look at what they need to do before it's too late.
Oakland A's: Make More Consistent Contact
The A's struck out a whopping 16 times on Friday night. Starter Max Scherzer fanned 11 over seven innings of work, and the duo of Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit finished things out by striking out five of the last six hitters.
Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and Daric Barton each recorded three strikeouts, as the team managed just three hits on the night, with two of them coming from slugger Yoenis Cespedes.
The team's 1,178 strikeouts in the regular season ranked 20th in the majors, so the A's have done a nice job making contact for the better part of the season.
The trio of Moss, Cespedes and Josh Donaldson were the only three hitters with more than 100 strikeouts on the year, so they just need to return to what has gotten them to where they are and start putting the ball in play more.
Oakland A's: Jump on Justin Verlander Early
The Tigers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, and it was not until the bottom of the seventh that the A's finally got on the board om Game 1.
The Tigers have a dynamic offensive attack and terrific pitching staff, so if the A's are going to have any chance, they need to be the ones who jump out to an early lead.
Justin Verlander takes the mound for the Tigers in Game 2, and while he's not been the same dominant pitcher this season, he has finished the year strong. In six September starts, he has a 2.27 ERA and has struck out 48 in 39.2 innings of work.
The A's offense was fantastic in its own right this season, so the team is more than capable of getting things on track at the plate. The performance of rookie pitcher Sonny Gray will certainly be important, but getting the offense going looks to be the key now.
Tampa Bay Rays: Wil Myers Needs to Move Past the Error
The Rays jumped out to an early 2-0 lead through four innings, with Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez hitting solo home runs, but the momentum swung to the Boston side of things in the bottom of the fourth.
After a Dustin Pedroia single to start the inning, rookie right fielder Wil Myers misplayed a David Ortiz fly ball when he thought center fielder Desmond Jennings was going for it.
The Fenway crowd jumped all over Myers, and the Red Sox went on to strike for five runs in the bottom of the fourth and three more in the fifth on their way to a 12-2 victory.
Myers finished the game 0-for-4, and that was after he fanned three times in the team's Wild Card Game. He has been a driving force in the Rays' lineup since he was first called up, and he needs to get back to being an impact presence.
Tampa Bay Rays: David Price Needs to Slow Down the Red Sox Potent Offense
The Red Sox piled up 12 runs and 14 hits in Friday night's game, with all nine starters recording at least one hit and scoring at least one run, as their MLB-best offense was on full display in the ALDS opener.
Boston certainly has the momentum heading into Game 2, but if anyone can slow it down, ace David Price may be the man for the job.
In five starts against the Red Sox this season, Price went 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 0.673 WHIP. He was particularly good at Fenway, where he was 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 0.582 WHIP in three starts.
Price threw a gem in Game 163 to get the Rays into the postseason, allowing two runs in a complete-game effort, and he'll be looking to duplicate that performance on Saturday.
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