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A's well aware of two Tigers starters

A's well aware of two Tigers starters

OAKLAND -- Every time Jeremy Bonderman gets a strikeout with his devastating slider, A's general manager Billy Beane has thoughts about slamming a chair through a wall. Well, not exactly. That was the scene in Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" when the A's drafted Bonderman out of high school in the first-round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.

Beane said that the chair wasn't even thrown because the A's drafted the 18-year-old Bonderman, but because the A's missed out on Chris Burke, who was drafted earlier. But regardless of what really did happen with Bonderman, Beane and the chair, the discussion will continue as the A's battle the Tigers for the American League Championship Series, which starts on Tuesday at Oakland.

"I know it makes for good theater," Beane said on Sunday during the A's off-day workout. "So I'll play along."

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Beane dealt Bonderman to Detroit in 2002 in a three-team deal that brought Ted Lilly to the A's and sent Jeff Weaver from the Tigers to the Yankees.

Bonderman was making his way through the A's farm system about the same time Rich Harden was turning heads, and the A's went with Harden.

"Rich was a little bit ahead of Jeremy," Beane said. "There's no surprise [about Bonderman's success] because he was establishing himself at a young age when he was here."

Bonderman, 23, has made 123 starts since coming up with Detroit in 2003 and went 14-8 this year with a 4.08 ERA.

Bonderman, who should start Game 3 or 4, has one start against the A's this season. It came on April 20, when he limited Oakland to three runs over seven innings for a no-decision. He led the Tigers with 214 innings pitched this year and is 3-3 lifetime against the A's with a 3.77 ERA.

Kenny Rogers is another Tigers hurler that was in Beane's grasp. Rogers went 21-11 during 1998 and half of 1999 with the A's.

Beane traded Rogers to the Mets for Terrence Long, even though Beane said that Rogers was a big part of where the team was headed at that time.

"When he came here, he reminded us of how to pitch in the big leagues," Beane said of Rogers. "He was one of the reasons we drafted Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. Rogers showed us what an athlete can do on a mound. He can be a power guy and a control pitcher."

Rogers is probable for Game 2 at Oakland and is 21-7 against the A's with a 4.33 ERA during his 17-year career. He is also 25-4 at McAfee Coliseum with a 3.46 ERA.

Rogers and Bonderman are two big reasons why the Tigers led the Majors in ERA (3.84) and were able to take out the Yankees in four games during the AL Division Series. They combined to hold the Yankees to two runs over 16 innings during Games 3 and 4.

"Those two pitching performances were just really impressive," said A's starter Dan Haren. "[The Tigers] didn't finish that well. I think it is a testament to their team and their manager to beat one of the best lineups ever put together."

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The Tigers ended their season on a sour note when they were swept by the Royals and lost the AL Central title on the last day of the season. They proceeded to lose Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees, but the Tigers stunned just about everybody by winning three games in a row. That is, everyone except for Frank Thomas and Ken Macha.

"They're not a surprise team to me," Thomas said of Detroit. "I think that we're the bigger surprise team. They've been playing the same good baseball the entire season."

"Them being here is not an accident," echoed Macha. "They're a darn good team and they deserve to be here. You can't let what happened yesterday affect tomorrow and I'm sure that's what they did."

Barry Zito is scheduled to start Game 1. He has one start against the Tigers this season, when he held Detroit to one run over seven innings. Esteban Loaiza will go for the A's in Game 2. During two starts against the Wild Card team, he is 0-1 with a 8.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.

The A's, who swept the Twins in the ALDS, went 4-5 against the Tigers this season and were outscored 52-39. The A's hit .229 against Detroit pitching, while the Tigers countered with a .297 average against the AL West champions.

One of the A's key victories this season came on July 22 against the Tigers when Oakland came back from five runs down in the first inning to win 9-5.

The A's bullpen has been solid for most of the season with a 3.60 ERA. It yielded two runs over eight innings during the three games against the Twins. But on April 20, reliever Justin Duchscherer blew a two-run lead against the Tigers in the ninth inning when closer Huston Street wasn't available.

Milton Bradley, who went deep in Game 3 against the Twins, is hitting .348 against the Tigers.

Ryan Quinn is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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