Friday, October 4, 2013

Detroit vs. Oakland in the Postseason

For the second consecutive season, the A's and Tigers will square off in the ALDS. This will be the fourth postseason meeting between the two clubs and the 11th between Detroit and Oakland in the four major sports (I'm counting the Sharks).

Year Round Detroit Oakland Result
1972 ALCS Tigers Athletics Athletics 3-2
2006 ALCS Tigers Athletics Tigers 4-0
2012 ALDS Tigers Athletics Tigers 3-2
Year Round Detroit Oakland Result
1976 West Semis Pistons Warriors Warriors 4-2
1977 First Round Pistons Warriors Warriors 2-1
Year Round Detroit Oakland Result
1994 West Quarters Red Wings Sharks Sharks 4-3
1995 West Semis Red Wings Sharks Red Wings 4-0
2007 West Semis Red Wings Sharks Red Wings 4-2
2010 West Semis Red Wings Sharks Sharks 4-1
2011 West Semis Red Wings Sharks Sharks 4-3

The 1972 ALCS began with a terrific duel between Catfish Hunter and Mickey Lolich. Hunter allowed a single tally in eight innings on a Norm Cash homer while Lolich held the A's to one run in ten innings of work. Al Kaline cracked a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the 11th off Rollie Fingers and Lolich came back out in the bottom of the inning to try and finish the game. Sal Bando and Mike Epstein opened the frame with singles to knock out Lolich. Chuck Seelbach relieved Lolich and he put down Gene Tenace on a botched sacrifice bunt. With runners at first and second, pinch-hitter Gonzalo Marquez punched a single to right that brought home the tying run. Tenace went from first to third on the play, and Kaline's throw to nab him at third got away, allowing Tenace to scurry home with the winning run.

Blue Moon Odom pitched a three-hit shutout in Game Two to give the A's a 2-0 series lead, but the 5-0 game was not a snoozer. Bert Campaneris was enjoying a three-hit two-steal afternoon in the seventh inning when Tigers reliever Lerrin LaGrow drilled him in the ankle. Campaneris responded by hurling his bat at LaGrow, and both benches cleared. Both pitcher and batter were ejected and suspended for the remainder of the series.

The Tigers recovered with a pair of home victories behind Joe Coleman's 14-K shutout in Game Three and a huge extra-innings comeback in Game Four. The A's scored twice in the top of the 11th to move within three outs of the pennant. Detroit roared back with a run and loaded the bases with nobody out. Dave Hamilton was called on in a brutally tough spot for Oakland and he walked his first batter, Cash, to force in the tying run. Jim Northrup followed with a walk-off single that forced a fifth and deciding game at Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers struck with a first-inning run off Odom in the second inning, but the A's evened the score in the second against Woodie Fryman. Reggie Jackson walked, stole second and moved to third on a flyout. With two down, Epstein broke from first base on a double steal and Jackson was able to score the tying run by swiping home. It was a Pyrrhic victory however, as Jackson tore his hamstring on the play and was done for the season. His replacement, George Hendrick scored the go-ahead run in the fourth on Tenace's RBI single. With a 2-1 lead, Odom posted two more zeroes before Vida Blue came on in the sixth for a 12-out save to clinch the A.L. crown. The A's moved on to win the first of three straight World Series titles.

The two clubs wouldn't meet in October again until the 2006 ALCS. Detroit was only three years removed from a 119-loss season, but they won the wild card and took down the Yankees in the ALDS to get to Oakland. After two wins on the West Coast, Detroit took a 3-0 series lead behind seven and one-third innings of two-hit ball from Kenny Rogers.

Going for a sweep, Detroit dug out of a 3-0 hole and tied Game Four on a Magglio Ordonez solo shot in the sixth inning. 

The Tigers stormed into the World Series, but were bumped off by the Cardinals in five games.

The A's and Tigers would meet again in last season's ALDS. Detroit won Games One and Two at home, the first behind seven strong innings from Justin Verlander and the second thanks to two late-inning comebacks and Don Kelly's walk-off sacrifice fly. Brett Anderson and the A's bullpen pitched a Game Three shutout to keep the A's alive, but the Tigers were on the verge of closing it out with a 3-1 lead in Game Four. Down to their final three outs, the A's rallied against Jose Valverde. Three straight hits, the last a two-run double by Seth Smith, tied the score. With two outs, Coco Crisp singled to right field that forced a fifth game.

Oakland had the momentum, but Detroit had Verlander. The reigning A.L. Cy Young and Most Valuable Player pitched a complete-game four-hit shutout to send the Tigers to the ALCS. They would sweep the Yankees for the pennant before being swept away themselves by the Giants in the Fall Classic.


The Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons met in consecutive NBA postseasons in 1976 and 1977.

Golden State won 59 games in '76 to claim the Western Conference's top seed (16 games better than any team in the West). The Pistons only went 36-46, but they snuck into the playoffs and beat Milwaukee in the 4-vs-5 opening round to proceed to Oakland. Despite the 23-win gap, the Pistons split the first four games despite the Warriors winning their two games by an average of 20 points. The better team pulled away in the fifth game, with Rick Barry's 25 points, 11 assists and seven steals leading the Warriors blowout. They closed it out in Game Six on a Jamaal Wilkes bucket in overtime.

They met again the following season, one round earlier than before. Fourth-seeded Golden State hosted fifth-seeded Detroit in the best-of-three first round set. A 12-0 Pistons run in the final six minutes gave them a road victory in the opener, but the Warriors rolled to a 30-point win in the Motor City to force a third game back at home. After a benches-clearing fight the third quarter, Golden State went on a 14-3 run (with Rick Barry scoring eight of his 35 here) en route to a 109-101 win. They pushed the top-seeded Lakers to a seventh game before bowing out in the West semis. After one more season in the Western Conference, the Pistons moved to the East when the Buffalo Braves moved to L.A. to become the Clippers.


For the purposes of these city vs. city histories, I count the San Jose Sharks for both Oakland and San Francisco as the Bay Area's professional hockey team. They have battled the Detroit Red Wings five times in the playoffs.

The Sharks only tallied 24 points and were tied as the NHL's worst team in 1993. A year later, they worked their way up to an eight-seed and matchup with the #1 Red Wings. The Sharks made it a series and pushed Detroit to the brink. Despite being outscored 25-18 in the first six games, San Jose pulled off a stunning road upset in Game Seven to knock out the West's best and nab the franchise's first series win. They even took a 3-2 lead in the next round before dropping two games in Toronto.

The Red Wings would exact revenge the following spring. San Jose reached the conference semis to set up another meeting with the top-seeded Wings. Detroit wiped out the Sharks 6-0 in the opener before running off three straight 6-2 wins to complete a dominant sweep.

It would be 12 years until the next Wings-Sharks series when San Jose was again an underdog to top-seeded Detroit in the West semis. The Sharks won two games this time, but the Wings won in six games thanks to a Domenik Hasek shutout in the clincher.

2010 and 2011 brought two more series in the round-of-eight. San Jose was the higher seed this time, and it showed in a 2010 five-game romp. The Sharks ran out to a 3-0 lead in 2011 as well, but they had a harder time closing this one out. The Red Wings won three straight to become the eighth team to go from 0-3 to 3-3. They couldn't seal the deal, however, as San Jose hung on for a 3-2 win in Game Seven to reach the West Finals and avoid the choke.

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