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NOTES

Thomas Calls It an On-Purpose Pitch

October 14, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — Frank Thomas wasn't angry after Friday's game, but the Oakland designated hitter did think Tigers left-hander Kenny Rogers threw at him on purpose in the first inning, when Thomas was hit in the hip by an 0-and-2 fastball.

"Kenny has pinpoint control, and I was way off the plate," said Thomas, who is 0 for 10 in the series. "He was just trying to frustrate me. It was 0-2, it was a good time to come way in. I looked at him like I knew what it was all about. I saw him hit Alex Rodriguez last week. I'm not saying he's dirty. It's just the game within the game."

Rogers, 41, and Thomas, 38, have a long history -- Thomas is a .345 hitter (20 for 58) with six homers and 16 runs batted in against Rogers over his career -- but the pitcher said there is no bad blood between the two.

"The reason the pitch was in -- I tried to throw it as hard as I could, which isn't that hard, but I was making sure I got it in," Rogers said. "I overcooked it in there, but I would never try to hit him. I'm not putting anybody on base if I don't have to.

"I'm sorry he feels that way, but it's not going to be the last one I miss inside. But it's because he's a good hitter, and if you miss over the plate he can hurt you as much as any player in the game."

*

Oakland center fielder Mark Kotsay made two outstanding plays in the fourth inning, racing in to make a sliding catch of Ramon Santiago's flare and then to the warning track to catch Curtis Granderson's long drive.

But the A's have still been overshadowed defensively by the Tigers, who have not forced their pitchers, because of errors, to get four outs in an inning in the playoffs and made another superb play Friday when third baseman Brandon Inge caught Kotsay's first-inning foul pop while crashing into the low wall behind the third-base dugout.

*

Baseball has no plans to expand the first round of the playoffs from a best-of-five series to a best-of-seven, but Commissioner Bud Selig acknowledged that he's exploring ways to make it more difficult for wild-card teams to advance. Among the options: Give the wild-card team only one home game in the first round instead of two.

"The wild-card team can't get home-field advantage now, but there are several ways to make it tougher," Selig said before the Tigers-A's game. "We're going to take a hard look at that after the World Series."

*

Infielder Mark Kiger, who replaced injured Mark Ellis on Oakland's ALCS roster, made his major league debut Friday, entering the game in the bottom of the eighth inning at second base. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player in history to make his big league debut in the postseason.... Detroit's shutout was the first in the ALCS since 2000, when New York blanked Seattle, 5-0, in Game 4.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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