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American League Division Series Game 5 Thread: Tigers @ Athletics

The decisive game of the American League Division Series between the Athletics and the Tigers takes place in Oakland on Thursday night.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

All that Sonny Gray has to do is help his team be better than Justin Verlander and the Tigers. That would be the same Verlander who won the Cy Young Award two years ago and was the runner-up last year. Gray has faced 290 hitters in MLB games. Verlander has faced 7,656.

The Athletics are showing faith in the rookie, starting him over Game 1 starter Bartolo Colon. The shades are there to recognize a similar pattern from the NLDS matchup between the Pirates and Cardinals, with a struggling veteran from Game 1 being bypassed for Game 5 in favor of a rookie. Colon did not have a terrible Game 1 in the sense that he only gave up three runs, but he also surrendered ten hits. He was not fooling the Tigers. Gray, who struck out 67 batters in 64 regular season innings, gets the ball.

Oakland hopes that will work out better than Gerrit Cole did for the Pirates last night. Gray will have the benefit of pitching in his home park, where he had a 1.99 ERA in his few appearances this year.

Gray was the 18th pick in the 2011 draft and here he is in the playoffs two years later. Cole was the #1 pick in that draft. What do you think it is like to have a franchise draft a pitcher and they come up so fast and make an immediate, positive impact? Orioles fans would settle for drafting a pitcher who can eventually be at least a league-average starter.

Who are you rooting for tonight? There's no particular reason to hate either the Tigers or the Athletics. What leads you one way and not the other?

The game will air on TBS, with first pitch scheduled for 8:07.

Coco Crisp (S) - CF Austin Jackson (R) - CF
Josh Donaldson (R) - 3B Torii Hunter (R) - RF
Jed Lowrie (S) - SS Miguel Cabrera (R) - 3B
Yoenis Cespedes (R) - LF Prince Fielder (L) - 1B
Seth Smith (L) - DH Victor Martinez (S) - DH
Brandon Moss (L) - 1B Jhonny Peralta (R) - SS
Alberto Callaspo (S) - 2B Alex Avila (L) - C
Josh Reddick (L) - RF Omar Infante (R) - 2B
Stephen Vogt (L) - C Don Kelly (L) - LF