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A's, Tigers Unlikely to Change Their Rotations

October 09, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND — After considerable hand-wringing, it appears the Oakland Athletics will go with the same rotation in the American League Championship Series against Detroit that they used in their division-series sweep over Minnesota.

Manager Ken Macha announced Sunday that left-hander Barry Zito will start Game 1 on Tuesday in McAfee Coliseum -- no surprise there -- but only after a meeting that included 10 coaches and front office executives did the A's settle on right-hander Esteban Loaiza over Rich Harden for Game 2.

Dan Haren, who gave up two runs and nine hits in six innings to gain the clinching victory Friday over the Twins, is expected to start Game 3. Harden, the hard-throwing right-hander who returned in late September after missing more than three months because of a sprained elbow ligament, is scheduled to start Game 4.

Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said Saturday he was leaning toward keeping his division-series rotation intact, with left-hander Nate Robertson probably starting Game 1, followed by right-hander Justin Verlander, left-hander Kenny Rogers and right-hander Jeremy Bonderman.

Harden, who gave up seven earned runs and seven hits, struck out 15 and walked eight in 11 2/3 innings of three starts after coming off the disabled list, is scheduled to travel to Arizona to pitch in an instructional league game today.

"There were 10 guys in the room, and it was split, 5-5," Macha said of the decision on the Game 2 starter. "We just collectively made our minds up."

The determining factors were Loaiza's strong regular-season finish, his five-inning, two-run effort against Minnesota in Game 2, and Harden's performance in the regular-season finale, when he gave up six runs and three hits and walked six in 3 2/3 innings against the Angels.

The decision is significant "because whoever pitches Games 2 and 3 will start twice if the series goes seven games," Macha said. "Harden hasn't given us an indication he's the Rich Harden we're used to throwing out there. The three guys who have pitched in the playoffs for us, we know what we're going to get."


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