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Changing Their Stripes

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Sometimes you just have to pause and tip your cap to your opponent. The Tigers have done something in this series that no one expected. They've shown patience and have approached the A's pitchers in a method more reminiscent of the Yankees than the free swinging Motowners from the regular season.

They had an outstanding approach in every single game. And Rogers obviously had a great plan on how to pitch against the A's. It also helped that the A's approach was just miserable and as though the A's didn't get a scouting report before the game.

If you had told me before the series started that the A's wouldn't get a hit from Frank Thomas for the first three games, I would tell you they would be down 0-3. And that's exactly the case. Thomas carried the A's offense for the latter half of the season and maybe people have learned how to pitch to Frank a little more effectively or he's tired or he's pressing. Maybe it's a little of everything. But Thomas and Swisher are keys to this team's offense. But Thomas more than anyone.

Stop the D'Angelo Jimenez complaining too. No one wants Jimenez out there, but you're essentially down to your fourth infielder. The truth is that you win and lose as a team. The A's approach at the plate was awful, especially for an ump who had a very tight strike zone. The Tigers looked like the green and gold today. And you're never going to win a game without scoring runs.

The only objective the A's should have at this point is to try to get some respectability. It's easy for all the columnists who were saying the A's were going to win this series to jump ship. And even though the A's beat a team that was probably superior to them in the first round, expect to start to hear the familiar refrains about the team. People love to hate our lovable muppets.

Congrats to Rich Harden on a successful postseason start. You had an excellent game after an understandably rusty first two innings. I truly hope that if we don't see you again in 2006, that we'll have you for an entire 2007. The prospect makes me very excited.

Any way, the season comes down to Danny Haren against Jeremy Bonderman, the kid who will look to stab the organization that traded him away in the heart. Expect to see an amped Bonderman tomorrow as he's always loved beating the A's. This would be an ultimate victory for him. Haren remains the A's hope to extend the series one more game and give Barry Zito a chance to end his career in green and gold on a much brighter note.

But truthfully, the A's need to be the patient hitters they've been all season long. Make Bonderman throw strikes. Take a lesson from the Tigers who've gone against the old saying and have been able to change their stripes.