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Chess Match: Tigers sweep away A's

Chess Match: Tigers sweep away A's

DETROIT -- The best game of the American League Championship Series not only provided more drama than the first three games, it also tested managerial strategy on both sides, as Oakland manager Ken Macha and Detroit's Jim Leyland both went to their bullpens and benches more than they had in any of the previous games.

One-way Street
The situation: The Tigers load the bases with one out in the seventh and the game tied, 3-3.

The decision: Macha decides to summon closer Huston Street from the bullpen to face Carlos Guillen.

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The outcome: Street gets Guillen to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Missed opportunity I
The situation: Game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, two outs and runners on first and third with Detroit shortstop Ramon Santiago at the plate against Oakland left-hander Joe Kennedy.

The decision: Leyland lets Santiago bat instead of pinch-hitting, even though the switch-hitter batted .208 against lefties during the regular season. Leyland had options like Marcus Thames, a career .250 hitter against lefties who hit eight of his 26 homers against southpaws this season, available on the bench.

The outcome: Santiago flies out to left as the Tigers left the go-ahead run at third.

Missed opportunity II
The situation: Game tied, 3-3, in the top of the eighth, the A's load the bases with two outs.

The decision: After 13 straight pitches out of the strike zone, Leyland replaces Jason Grilli with Wilfredo Ledezma.

The outcome: Ledezma gets Oakland's Marco Scutaro to pop up in foul territory to Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez to end the threat.

Taking the fifth
The situation: The Tigers trailed, 3-0, entering the bottom of the fifth, but a infield hit by Brandon Inge, Eric Chavez's throwing error and a one-out double by Curtis Granderson ended the shutout and brought Craig Monroe to the plate. Monroe hit a sinking liner to left field.

The decision: Oakland left fielder Jay Payton tries to make a diving stop instead of playing it on the bounce.

The outcome: The ball gets by Payton and Monroe motors into second with an RBI double to cut the lead to 3-2. Only a lineout double play off the bat of Placido Polanco prevented the Tigers from doing more damage in the fifth.

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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