OAKLAND, Calif. -- As a newcomer to the Athletics this year, Jed Lowrie doesn't really know the team's ugly 21st century history in potential series-clinching playoff games -- 1-11 since 2000.
Despite Tuesday's lost opportunities in an 8-6 Game4 loss in Detroit, the Oakland shortstop still believes that the A's can advance to the American League Championship Series simply by asserting their home-field advantage Thursday night in Game5.
"I think we have confidence, we're playing at home," Lowrie said Wednesday. "We know what we're up against in Justin Verlander. But I think we're all prepared and know that it's a winner"'take"'all scenario and everybody will be ready to go."
Lowrie said no one player should feel additional pressure to carry the load offensively. The key, he stressed, is making Verlander work long innings as he did in Game2. The A's didn't score against him, but they did force him out after seven innings and 117 pitches, climaxed by a 10-pitch battle against catcher Stephen Vogt.
"I think the strength of our offense all year has been to trust everybody up and down the lineup and not try to do too much," Lowrie said. "That's the easiest way to get to a guy like Verlander is give yourself as many opportunities to score as possible. Get guys on base and get him to throw those stress innings and pitches where he's not able to cruise."
Manager Bob Melvin hinted that third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is hitting just .176 in the series (3 for 17 with no extra-base hits or RBIs), might be one player who hasn't been following that mantra. The manager cited Lowrie as an example Donaldson and all of his players should follow in Game5.
"Maybe he's trying to do too much at times," said Melvin of Donaldson. "But look at Jed. Jed didn't get any hits the first couple of games and the next thing he's hitting a two"'run homer. It's just a matter of time before (Donaldson) breaks out and (Thursday) would be a good day for that."
Lowrie said the A's simply have to put Game4 behind them.
"It was a tough loss," Lowrie said. "We've had them before. What we have to do is do what we've done all year. We have to come out having put (Game4) behind us and play the best game we can. That's why we've come this far."
-- Detroit manager Jim Leyland hadn't decided on a Game5 lineup, but he made a one thing clear. Miguel Cabrera despite aggravating groin and abdominal injuries in Game4, will start at third base in the deciding game.
As for Jhonny Peralta, who didn't start either game in Oakland but did offensive damage as the left fielder starting Games3 and 4 in Detroit with five RBIs, Leyland seemed to be leaning toward having him in the lineup for Game5.
"I would say that Jhonny Peralta will play," Leyland said.
-- Melvin said "all hands will be on deck" with the pitching staff in Game5 but wasn't sure about Game3 starter Jarrod Parker.
"He was sore after the game he pitched and we don't want him going out there when he's not close to 100 percent," the manager said. "I'm sure he will be willing to, but we will have to see how he feels tomorrow."
There may be a question about Game4 starter Dan Straily's availability as well. Straily pitched with back tightness over his final three innings. Melvin said Straily suffered a mild cramp from pitching in the cold conditions in Detroit.
-- Verlander knows well the stakes of a deciding game, having thrown a shutout against the A's in last year's ALDS Game5 in Oakland. He maintains the mindset of the starting pitcher has to be different.
"Well, you don't pretend," he said. "It's not just another game. The season is on the line. This whole season, the way we battled and played as a team, comes down to one game, may the best team win. There is more to it."
Familiarity breeds confidence after last year's dominant performance, Verlander admitted.
"Yeah, and I just pitched there my last start. So I guess you know what to expect a little bit, what the crowd is going to be like, and it's going to be fun," he said. "It's what you play the game for. It's exciting. This is what you dream of as a kid, be on the mound in a clinching game."
-- Due to a concert at Oracle Arena on Thursday night, the A's are encouraging fans to arrive early or take public transportation to the Coliseum. Parking will be $25 for cars until lots are full or 6 p.m., space permitting, when it will change to the concert price of $35.
The parking lots will open at noon. Stadium gates will be open at 3 p.m.
-- Former A's pitching great Dave Stewart is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game5.
Staff writer John Hickey contributed to this report.
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