A's, Tigers locked in AL arms race

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 4, 2014 at 2:44 am •  Published: August 4, 2014
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DETROIT (AP) — Maybe this year they'll play seven.

When the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers met in the postseason the last two years, they pushed each other to the limit — which in the Division Series means Game 5. Justin Verlander pitched the Tigers to victory both times, but that will feel like a mere prelude if there's another rematch this October.

The A's have baseball's best record, while Detroit has the game's biggest division lead. The postseason is familiar ground for both franchises, but it's been 25 years since Oakland's last World Series title, and 30 since Detroit's.

And if the trade deadline was any indication, the A's and Tigers are both willing to go for broke. Oakland acquired left-hander Jon Lester on Thursday, only for Detroit to answer a few hours later by trading for lefty David Price. It was all part of an arms race precipitated by two of the game's most successful general managers — Billy Beane of the A's and Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers.

"It didn't surprise me because Dave Dombrowski, he knows how to make big deals," Beane said. "He's been doing it for a long time. Dave is very good at what he does and he's very good at making big deals."

There's been nothing subtle about Detroit's pursuit of a championship. The Tigers may have baseball's most recognizable roster in terms of star power. Every American League Cy Young Award and MVP winner from 2011-13 currently plays for Detroit.

Oakland is known for its modest payrolls, but this year's A's look nothing like an underdog. They boldly traded top prospect Addison Russell to the Chicago Cubs in a deal for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Then Oakland decided that wasn't enough and added Lester too.

There's a long way to go before the A's and Tigers can start preparing for another postseason matchup, but if they meet this year, perhaps it'll be in the AL championship series — and if that happens, five games may not be enough.

Here are five things to watch around the majors this week:

ONE BY ONE: Those three Cy Young winners in Detroit's rotation are Max Scherzer, Price and Justin Verlander — and they'll start in that order at Yankee Stadium beginning Monday.

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