OAKLAND — Part of the problem with Justin Verlander for the A's is the Detroit starter is very good.

Part of the problem with Verlander from Oakland's point of view, however, is that the A's have not been very good about getting him out of his comfort zone.

The 2011 Cy Young Award winner, who pitches tonight in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the A's, likes to get the ball and throw it. He establishes an early rhythm and once in it, he's likes to turn to his bullpen and say, ``Guys, I got this one. Take the night off.''

Chili Davis, the A's batting coach, said he spent some of time with his hitters in the last 48 hours making suggestions as to how to combat this.

``He likes to get (the ball) and go,'' Davis said. ``We have to find a way to change that.''

One old standby is to step in and out of the batter's box, but with a veteran like Verlander, home plate umpire Tom Hallion may be less inclined to grant repeated time outs than he would if a rookie, say the A's Sonny Gray, was on the mound.

Another option is to bunt. The talk the whole series is how to challenge ailing Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera's ailing legs by bunting on him. But in Game 5, the A's might be better served with a few bunts forcing Verlander to cover from the mound to both foul lines, get him out of the groove that way.


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And then the A's could take away in inner part of the plate. The A's hitters could stand on the very inner portion of the plate and dare Verlander to come inside with the chance of putting men on base by hitting them.

Getting hit by a 96 mph fastball is nobody's idea of a good time, but for the first time this season the A's are playing in a game that will be the club's last if they don't win, so timidity need not apply.

``If they break out the big gun (Verlander),'' Davis said, ``the you break out the napalm.''