OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Billy Beane has the perfect solution for his Oakland Athletics to advance in the playoffs, to get past Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
Clone Verlander and put him in green and gold.
The A's realize they let a great chance to win the AL division series get away in Game 4 at Comerica Park. That sent them back to the Oakland Coliseum to face Verlander once more in Game 5.
Verlander pitched another gem and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning during a 3-0 win, not much different from his four-hit, 6-0 shutout here 364 days earlier to end the A's season.
"Short of cloning our own Verlander and having him on Game 5 to go toe to toe ... we want to put ourselves in position to have those days and hopefully come out on top, or win Game 4," Beane said.
The Oakland general manager plans to keep his club as close to intact as possible to make another run at the playoffs next year, and that starts with exercising a $7.5 million option for leadoff hitter Coco Crisp.
"Before you ask, it's pretty apparent that we would pick up Coco Crisp's option," he said. "Beyond being one of the GM's personal favorites, he's also been a very good player, and my kids' favorite."
Crisp, who hit a career-best 22 home runs in the leadoff spot, declined to speak to reporters while cleaning out his belongings and saying his clubhouse farewells.
The sting from this year's finish was a little bit stronger considering how the A's won the West this time compared to stunning the Texas Rangers in game No. 162 last year.
"It's hard to sort of rank disappointment in playoffs, they're all disappointing," Beane said. "It's always risky to put the fate of your hands in somebody like Justin Verlander. You'd prefer not to be in that situation. He's one of the best pitchers of his generation, he's proven it to us in Game 5 two years in a row. ... It's like asking which hangover is the worst, the one on New Year's Eve or whenever you decide on another one. They're all bad."
Still, Beane wouldn't trade the opportunity to be in such meaningful games this time of year.
Manager Bob Melvin expects to contend again.
"I think we'll have the same mindset, we're awfully disappointed how this season ended," Melvin said.
Small-budget Oakland, coming off consecutive AL West crowns, also plans to try to re-sign Bartolo Colon. The 40-year-old 18-game winner lost Game 1 of the division series, and Melvin started rookie Sonny Gray in in Game 5 against Verlander.
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